Canstar Blue’s inaugural black tea review has seen Tetley, Nerada, Twinings, Bushells, Dilmah, ALDI Diplomat, Madura, Lipton and Coles rated on their variety/range, taste, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Is tea your guilt-tea pleasure? Whether you like it hot or iced, a nice cuppa is the ‘go to’ refreshment in many households. So, it’s no wonder that 46% of the Australians who responded to our survey said they buy tea on their regular grocery shop to keep the cupboard stocked up. The good news is that there are many different varieties of black tea commercially available. Think English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Darjeeling, Ceylon and the list goes on. This means that irrespective of the brands and price points, you’ll always have plen-tea of black tea blends to choose from.
To find out which brand is brewing up best for Aussie tastebuds, Canstar Blue asked 1,250 adults to ‘spill the tea’ by rating the black tea they have purchased from a shop and enjoyed at home in the last three months. Respondents were asked to score their brand of choice on various factors, including the taste, variety/range, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. The idea is to give you an idea of which black teas are worth settling down with when you put your feet up for a quick cuppa!
In our first ever black tea specific review, nine brands received the minimum sample size to be included, but only two scored a five-star rating for overall satisfaction – Nerada and Tetley. The joint winners also achieved four stars for variety/range, value for money and packaging design. Read on for all the details.
Here are the best black tea brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
Tetley and Nerada both held top spot for the best-rated black tea, earning five-star ratings for overall satisfaction. Most of the remaining brands finished with four stars, while Coles rounded up the results on three.
There were a few noteworthy performances from other brands. Twinings and Bushells joined this year’s winners with top marks in the taste category, each receiving five stars. Twinings also earned top marks for variety/range and packaging design. ALDI Diplomat was the only brand to record five stars for value for money. Read on to find more about the brands compared.
Black tea is perhaps the most popular of all tea varieties and is what classic favourites such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey fall under. Black tea is fully oxidised, and is most commonly produced in India. There are three types of black tea produced in India – Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. Ceylon is another popular variety and comes from Sri Lanka. Even within this category there are many sub-categories – ones even the biggest tea enthusiasts wouldn’t know about. For a classic cuppa out on the deck, you can’t go wrong with black tea.
Tetley serves a variety of caffeinated and decaffeinated options for ‘thirst-tea’ Aussies, including several types of black tea. The brand also provides a wide selection of green tea, fruits and herbal tea, chai latte and Cold Infusions. Prices for Tetley’s black tea can range from $3.35 for a 100-pack of pure black tea to as much as $8 for the decaf alternative.
Proudly grown in Far North Queensland, Nerada’s selection of black teas is described as ‘Australia’s freshest, finest and most sustainable’. The organic range includes loose-leaf and tea bag versions of Aussie favourites such as Earl Grey, Royal Devonshire, English Breakfast, and the brand’s plantation blend. A tea from the Nerada range can cost between $2.50 for the standard Nerada Tea Bags, which come in a 50-pack, and can reach up to $5.30 for a 200-pack of Nerada Cup or Pot Tea Bags.
Twinings offers a variety of tea and herbal blends, as well as a Cold Water Infusions range. The brand also carries a line of Australian certified organic and Fairtrade teas in its Asha collection. When it comes to black tea, the blends available include English Breakfast (regular, extra strong and decaf), Australian Afternoon, Ceylon, Chai, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, Lady Grey, Lemon, Morning Tea, Russian Caravan and Traditional Afternoon. The pack sizes vary between 40, 50, 80 and 100 tea bags. Twinings also sells a Twinings Tea Chest, which includes either four or six packs containing 10 tea bags each. Its prices range between $2.70 for a 10-pack and $11 for an 80 or 100-pack.
Serving a range ‘blended for Australian tastes’, Bushells creates a line of full-flavoured and rich cuppas which you can enjoy from dawn to dusk. Both the Bushells Australian Breakfast and Bushells Evening Decaffeinated blends come in 100 tea bag packs, while the Bushells Extra Strong tea is additionally sold in 250g loose-leaf tea packs. Otherwise, you can get the classics Bushells Blue Label in either 50 or 100 tea bag packs, or 250g loose-leaf tea packs. The prices for Bushells tea is on the more affordable side compared to some brands, with products costing between $2.70 and $5.90.
Dilmah has a few varieties of tasty teas, including its Dilmah Gourmet Tea Selection, Vivid Selection by Dilmah, Dilmah Ceylon Green tea, Dilmah Infusions, Dilmah Fun Selection, Dilmah Real Tea Cordial and Dilmah Premium Tea Selection. When it comes to black tea, the brand offers blends like Ceylon and Earl Grey. Prices start from $3.40 for 50 tea bag packs and can reach up to $10 for 200 teabag packs.
While ALDI may be well-known for its Special Buys, another popular range is its ALDI ‘Diplomat’ tea selection. Available in tea bag and tea round varieties, you can find classic favourites such as English Breakfast black tea. ALDI’s Diplomat range is claimed to be certified sustainable.
Madura, a word which translates to ‘paradise’ in Tamil, was apparently established in 1978 when two third-generation tea planters created what is claimed to be Australia’s only tropical plantation. Since then, the brand developed a wide selection of black tea, green tea, Chai tea, organic tea and its own range of Herbal Infusions. Madura’s black tea blends include English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Pure Assam and the brand’s own premium blend. These are available in loose-leaf, silk infuser, or teabag varieties. Prices start from $3.05 for a pack of 20 teabags, and take you back $14.69 for a 120-teabag pack.
Lipton sells a range of hot teas and iced teas in a wide variety of flavours and tea types, including black, green, herbal, matcha, decaffeinated and diet. Its iced tea selection comes in 500ml or 1.5L bottles, while hot tea is available in 25, 50 or 100 tea bag packs. Its vanilla Chai latte line alternatively comes with 8 or 16 sachets. Prices start from just over $2 for a 25-pack and reach up to $6 for a 100-pack. If you prefer loose-leaf tea, the Lipton Quality Tips Loose Leaf Tea is sold for less than $5 for a 250g box.
For a budget-friendly cuppa, the Coles supermarket brand is one way to go. Its blends include English Breakfast, Earl Grey and pure black tea. The products are sold in either 50 or 100 tea bag packs, which generally cost around the $2 mark. There’s also the option for tagless tea bags.
While all teas come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), taste will vary between blends. Black tea is definitely bolder and more malty in flavour than white, green or yellow tea. Taste, aroma and colour will vary depending on the black tea variety, where and how the tea was cultivated and produced; as well as other factors like the year and season of harvest.
So, ultimately your choice will come down to personal preference. You may have to try different blends to find the one that best tickles your tastebuds. Here’s some popular black tea varieties and some lesser known ones you can try:
We wouldn’t normally encourage consumers to spend more than they have to, but when it comes to black tea, you’ll probably consider trying various brands and blends money well spent!
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com, Nik Merkulov / Shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and drunk brewed tea at home (i.e. using a tea bag or loose-leaf tea purchased from a shop) in the last three months – in this case, 1,250 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.