Canstar Blue’s specialty tea review sees Nerada, Twinings, Lipton, T2 and Dilmah compared on their taste, packaging design, variety/range, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Specialty tea isn’t your run-of-the-mill supermarket herbal tisane. Whether it’s loose-leaf, single estate, fair trade or rare tea, there are plen-tea of unique blends to fill your tea cup with. It’s no surprise, more than half of Australians who responded to our survey (52%) admitted to having multiple tea flavours at the ready in their cupboards. While there are lots of different varieties of tea available, it can be hard to decide which brands or type of specialty tea will satisfy your taste buds. That’s where we come in, so put the kettle on!
Canstar Blue asked 572 Australian adults to ‘spill the tea’ by rating the specialty tea they’ve purchased from a shop and brewed at home during the last three months. This includes herbal tea and fruit tea. Respondents were asked to score their brand of choice based on various key factors, including the taste, variety/range, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. The idea is that our ratings give you an idea of which brands are worth settling down with when you put your feet up for a quick cuppa!
In our first ever specialty tea specific review, five major brands received the minimum sample size to be included, with two scoring five stars for overall satisfaction – Nerada and Twinings. While both received four stars for variety, they also managed a sip of their own five-star success as Nerada came out on top for value for money, while Twinings shined when it comes to packaging design. Importantly, both brands got the maximum five stars for taste!
Here are the best brands for specialty tea in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
Nerada and Twinings came in hot in our first ever specialty tea review, achieving five stars for taste and overall satisfaction. Lipton and T2 followed behind on four stars, with Dilmah on three stars overall. T2 impressed when it came to variety/range, beating out the winners with the only five-star result in this category. Read on to find out more about the brands compared.
Nerada has few ‘pesticide-free’ options of loose-leaf and tea bag varieties to drink up. These include Australian grown teas like the loose-leaf Royal Devonshire with Smooth Vanilla and the organic tea bag pack of Hibiscus & Lemongrass. The cheapest Nerada option is a 50 tea bag pack costing $2.50. Although the priciest alternative isn’t that much more expensive, retailing for $4.70.
Aussies can sip a few varieties of tea from Twinings, including black tea and green tea as well as its Infusions and In’fuse range. The brand additionally has the ASHA collection, which offers Australian certified organic & Fairtrade teas. Twinings teas typically retail between $2 and $11. But ranges like ASHA often sell for $6, while the In’fuse range usually costs between $2 and $5.50.
Lipton is a popular brand on everyone’s lips, which is unsurprising considering its wide range of hot tea and iced teas. The brand offers various tea types, including black, green, herbal, matcha, decaffeinated and diet. The products also come in flavours like tropical, raspberry, fruity, English Breakfast, chamomile and mint. Lipton teas typically cost between $2.20 for a 25 tea bag pack and $7.70 for a 1L bottle of one of their iced teas.
T2 brews up a wide selection of teas just as colourful as its range of flavours and tea names, such as Gorgeous Geisha and Baxter’s Buns. Various tea types include Oolong tea, herbal & floral, Rooibos & honeybush, fruit and veggie, matcha, black tea, green tea and white tea. Prices typically start from $10 for 25g worth of loose-leaf tea and reach up to $55 for a tin containing 20g worth of loose-leaf green tea.
Dilmah provides tea lovers with a wide selection to choose from, with 12 ranges available, such as the Dilmah Fun Tea Selection, Dilmah Real Teal Cordial, Dilmah Infusions, Dilmah Premium Ceylon Golden Pekoe and the Dilmah Gourmet Tea Selection. Depending on the collection, these come in the form of loose-leaf tea, pot bags or tagless bags, string & tag bags and individually foil wrapped bags. Dilmah’s tea usually starts from $3.30 for 50 tea bag packs and can reach up to $8 for a family pack containing 500g worth of loose-leaf Ceylon tea.
There are many different types of tea out there, with brands getting more experimental by adding in different flavours, fruits and spices to jazz things up a little. Aside from your classic black tea, here are some of the most common types of teas explained. Whichever type of cuppa tickles your fancy, tea can be a great alternative beverage to coffee and soft drink, and can be a relaxing way to start or end your day, or enjoy as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. We hope you find our ratings helpful.
Green tea is – as you guessed it – green in colour, which is because it doesn’t go through an oxidisation process. To get the most out of green tea you have to pay more attention to the brewing process, often letting the tea brew for quite a while to unlock the full flavour. Specific profiles of green tea rely on the tea’s origin, time of harvest and various processing methods. Green tea is commonly used as a soothing remedy or as a calming beverage before bed.
Oolong tea is perhaps the most complex tea out there to perfect, and there’s a lot of variety. Oolong tea can be very lightly oxidised, or heavily oxidised to give the desired characteristics and profile. Oolong tea generally needs to be steeped multiple times to get the most from it, with aromas and tastes commonly fruity. As a fun fact, ‘oolong’ comes from the term ‘Wu-long’, which is Chinese for ‘black dragon’. So, get some fire in your belly and sip on an oolong.
Gaining in popularity in Australia are herbal teas, so what are they? Well, herbal infusions are extra ingredients added to the process other than tea leaves. The technical term for herbal tea is ‘lisane’. Here you’ll find teas such as chamomile, peppermint and lemongrass and ginger among other flavours. Really, the possibilities are endless, with flavours as exotic as rose, liquorice, choc mint and beyond.
Your starting base should be the type of tea you prefer. Black, white, green, or yellow! Specialty tea is just a premium version of your common tea. It’s usually produced from single tea gardens and consists of whole leaf or partial loose-leaf tea, while commodity tea is cut and blended to use in tea bags.
Specialty tea comes in different aroma and colour variations based on the tea leaf, the region where it was cultivated and the production method; as well as other factors like the year and season of harvest. So, ultimately your choice of herbal infusion will come down to personal preference. You may have to taste-test a few before you find one that suits you. Here are some popular specialty tea varieties you can try:
Now, because specialty tea is considered a premium tea, you’re likely going to pay a premium price for it, as opposed to commodity tea which is cheaper. Work out how much you’re willing to pay for a box of tea and from there, narrow down your options based on flavours and brands you like.
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.
Image credits: Erhan Inga/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, 572 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.