Most who know me, know that I like tea. I have a cabinet full. I have teacups on hand, ready for company. My favorite teas are flavored black teas. I’ve always had a few favorite tisanes, and I definitely know my way around the dried herbal options. But until now I hadn’t really taken stock of quality caffeine-free herbal teas.
Let me point out, if you’re not aware, that “herbal tea” is really a misnomer. True tea is made from tea leaves which are not included in what we should really call herbal infusions or tisanes. But I’m not really going to split hairs here. Since we all know what I mean by “herbal tea,” I won’t be picky about how I use the term. And one of my favorite, hot, caffeine-free teas isn’t really what I’d call an herbal tea at all and can be either brewed or steeped. More about that in a minute.
My Top Picks – in descending order
Generally speaking, what I like and dislike in herbal teas
My favorite tea flavors tend to include:
Personally not always a big fan of:
That being said, I do have several favorites that include rooibos, so go figure! You can’t embrace much in the way of herbal teas if you completely rule out rooibos. I guess there are no hard and fast rules for my finicky taste buds.
Flavor in the bag
Generally speaking loose tea tends to be a fresher and more flavorful option. I have both on hand, but most of the ones I discuss in this post will be available as tea bags. When purchasing tea bags, I always-steer toward good brands that have foil-lined packaging which helps maintain the freshness. The exception would be Tazo teas. Don’t know why they don’t use foil, but they are superb nonetheless.
Good minty morning
Because I drink tea daily, I decided to go caffeine-free during a fast in September. I often look forward to a morning cup of Bigelow’s Perfectly Mint, and thought this would work for most of my morning tea drinking. Until I looked at my box and discovered it was a flavored black tea! Whoops!
I’m a little picky about mint. And that’s because there really are several kinds, each with a slightly different essence. You’ve most likely developed the palate to differentiate between spearmint and peppermint, but the tea world also includes wild mint, Morrocan mint, and more.
After realizing that Perfectly Mint wasn’t an option, I decided to do some side-by-side testing. Contenders were Twinings Pure Peppermint, Stash Peppermint, Tazo Juniper Mint Honey, and Tazo Refresh-mint.
My personal favorite is Juniper Mint Honey! A great find, I could drink this every day. The flavors I taste are a sweet berry similar to strawberry and mint. Such a fun combo!
Refresh-mint was very similar to Pure Peppermint, but Pure Peppermint tastes like what I want a peppermint tea to be! It has a classic, but not too potent, peppermint flavor that doesn’t end bitter as some mint teas will. It’s a little warm and buttery.
If you’ve tried mint tea and didn’t like it, don’t give up. You may just need to find a different one.
Most herbal teas boast some health benefits. I find that mint is a bright and refreshing way to start the day, but it is suitable at any hour. I’ve also felt that mint tea whitens my teeth! I’ve only found one other source to suggest this. So I could simply be comparing my regular tea drinking teeth (black tea stains) to the mint tea that is tannin free.
The other herbal that I mix into my everyday drinking is Stash’s Lemon Ginger. A great caffeine-free herbal tea, it also has much to offer your health. Why not boost your immunity, fight heart disease, and improve brain function? But of course I drink it because it tastes wonderful! In all honesty I rank ginger as my favorite spice in the universe, so of course I will be drinking it with lemon! And I love Stash’s variety which is warm and bright. But it’s hard to mess up this dynamic duo. (Did have a disappointing store-brand one, so I guess it’s possible.)
Orange you glad you asked
Along with lemon, I feel that orange tea is hard to get wrong. There are many great caffeine-free herbal teas featuring orange. One herbal infusion I love is Good Earth Sweet and Spicy which is readily available almost anywhere you can find tea. It comes made with black tea, but also has a yummy caffeine-free version which I’ve linked. This is a nice, zingy flavor and is one of those strange instances where I forget I don’t like rooibos. Other ingredients include cinnamon, lemongrass, rosehip, peppermint and ginger. Which may sound like a crazy, strange blend, but somehow it actually works!
Chai do I like this?
Once again, although it’s rooibos-based, Spice Dragon Red Chai makes my list of top ten caffeine-free favorites. I like the warmth and heat of this chai. Again, I should probably note the irony of the name because “chai” just means “tea” in several languages. Generally what we really mean is Masala Chai referring to a Hindi black tea with milk, sugar and aromatic spices. Spice Dragon Red Chai’s caffeine-free herbal tea is made with four simple, but strong, flavors – cinnamon, rooibos, ginger root and clove.
Ooo mommy, you deserve this!
You can lose the rooibos, embrace umami, and find a caffeine-free chai in Golden Tumeric Chai. Very warm and comforting if you welcome tumeric, another super food. Why not enjoy tumeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in this lovely, comforting caffeine-free herbal tea blend which invites other health giants like ginger, cinnamon, orange, cardamom and clove. Golden Tumeric Chai is the one I take with me to snuggle with in a cozy blanket! It’s relaxing and soothing.
Color me ginger
Another favorite caffeine-free infusion is Organic Spicy Ginger. A wonderful tea, but I personally wouldn’t call it spicy. Ginger is by nature, quite spicy, but this one is very tame and balanced with the citrus. So rather like the Lemon Ginger, except that this tea also contains green rooibos and licorice root.
The sweet one
I couldn’t resist picking up a package of Teeccino Dandelion Caramel Nut tea as I shopped. Not only is it a caffeine-free herbal tea, it is also prebiotic! This is a wonderful dessert tea that you can serve black or dress up with your favorite sugar or creamer. No surprise here, but it does contain nuts as the title suggests. Specifically almonds and possibly hazelnuts. But I love that they packed in the fun sweetness of dates and figs with chocolate-like carob and chicory and healthy dandelion root.
Terms of endearment
Speaking of chicory, we have now arrived at one of my personal favorites! Chicory is not actually a term of endearment, but a plant root that is included in many caffeine-free herbal teas.
Chicory is sometimes used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute or added to flavor coffee. But if you’re expecting coffee and are given chicory, there’s no way you’d be convinced. Just imagine you’re a tea drinker trying to describe the flavor of chicory, and then the coffee connection makes perfect sense. Just as a chocolate lover would never suggest that carob is a substitute, neither would a coffee drinker buy that chicory tastes like their beloved coffee. They are similar but distinctly different.
That being said, chicory has a bitter appeal similar to coffee. It steeps or brews into a richer, darker loveliness than your traditional herbal tea. You can brew it like coffee in a coffee pot, steep it in a tea ball like tea, but I prefer to place the ground chicory in a tea infuser basket and simply pour hot water over it. I find the grounds turn more bitter if I let them brew or steep for very long.
Sometimes I want a caffeine-free herbal tea. Sometimes I just want caffeine-free chicory! The two do not feel the same. For me chicory is all about the loveliness of coffee without the caffeine and without the fuss of an entire coffee maker. Ah, chicory, sweet chicory! Feel free to add flavored creamers.
If you’d like to delve into some loose leaf, caffeine-free herbal teas, I suggest heading over to Adagio Teas and trying their 5-star Honeybush Banana Nut. Can’t say I’m as convinced as some of the commenters that this tastes like a muffin, but I do agree that this tea is sweet and smooth and fabulous! Search under “herbal teas” for many other delicious options from this seller.
(As you have guessed, honeybush is not a bush that grows honey. Rather it is a South African plant that smells like honey and is harvested like rooibos. Read more. )
Hips and lips
Rosehips and hibiscus blend with orange in Tazo’s Passion. I love all these flavors, so of course I love the blend. This is an easy to find caffeine-free herbal tea if you’d like to taste-test hibiscus and rosehip. Very perky!
Fun and fruity
Although fruity is where most herbal tea enthusiasts go, this is not usually where I park. But a few of these fruits, beyond citrus, do register in the realm of greatness when it comes to caffeine-free herbal teas.
Though I’m not always a fan of raspberry teas, raspberry does pair well with hibiscus in Wild Raspberry Hibiscus by Stash. Those two sweet-tart flavors make a beautiful, bright blend.
Don’t hate me! It’s licorice
Say black licorice and people start running! But hold up, there are several nice tea blends that contain licorice root. Nothing to be scared of because it doesn’t always taste exactly like black gum drops or jelly beans.
There are a small number of people who will appreciate the potency of Stash’s Licorice Spice, and I am on the outskirts of their camp. Every once in awhile, this caffeine-free herbal tree is invitingly exotic. What I find here, is a blend of several of my favorites like orange, cinnamon, clove and anise as well as some comforting vanilla, surprising sarsaparilla, and mellow cardamom. This tea is especially thick and soothing for congestion.
Tea for all
I’m personally convinced that if you don’t enjoy tea, you just haven’t found the right one yet! There are so many types of flavors and blends. I’ve won over one of my non-tea friends so far, and I’m on a mission to win over more! Keep trying and tasting. And keep in mind that drinking tea has health benefits as well, especially when you’re in the realm of caffeine-free herbal teas.