Somehow, we in America got stuck on a coffee kick that is difficult to shake. When you find yourself passing 17 Starbucks on your way to work, not to mention the coffee carts, drive-thru joints and other convenient ways to fill up your coffee mug, sometimes it isn't obvious that there are other options.

Tea is a big part of many cultures. It's part of routine, diet and in many cases, social gatherings. British folks have the right idea around 4 p.m. every day, when they gather around the tea pot for a snack and a spot of tea. The beverage that's been around for ages has tremendous benefits seeping from the tea bag.

Name your ailment and you can find a variety of tea that will help you heal it. Trouble sleeping? Try chamomile lavender. Upset stomach? Try ginger. Got the sniffles? Try echinacea eucalyptus.

Nowadays, the search for the right tea can get confusing. There are a myriad of types, colors, flavors and brands of tea. Black, Green, Red, White... what happened to Earl Grey and English Breakfast?

Let this be a guide to the types of tea available on the market today, as well as a selection of my favorites. I've sampled hundreds of teas over the years and these are--in my opinion--the best in quality, taste and nutritional value-broken down by type of tea and tagged by mood, flavor, and healing and health benefits.

Black Tea

black

black tea

Black teas generally have a strong, hearty flavor. Black tea is made when the tea leaf goes through complete oxidation, which is simply the process of darkening the tea leaves by exposing them to air. This process causes it to have the highest levels of caffeine compared to other varietals of tea.

Black tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, often consumed as iced tea or served with milk and sugar.

Black teas I recommend:

  •  Numi: Morning Rise Breakfast Blend of Black Teas
    • An organic blend of keemun black tea, darjeeling black tea, ceylon black tea and assam black tea--all in one tea bag.
  •  Numi: Golden Chai Spiced Assam Black Tea
    • A blend of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. This tea has a spicy and sweet flavor. I find it really spices up my morning.
  •  Tazo: Awake
    • A dark, rich tea. I drink this one when I need an energy boost.

Green Tea

green

green tea

Green teas have grown increasingly popular in the past several years, with headlines touting the health benefits of antioxidant-rich green tea. It generally has an earthy, grassy, sweet flavor and has become so popular you can now find green tea flavored ice cream and gum.

Green tea leaves undergo minimal amounts of oxidation, increasing the level of antioxidants and decreasing caffeine levels. Many green teas are about a third to half the caffeine of eight ounces of coffee.

Green teas I recommend:

  • Yogi Tea: Green Tea Goji berry
    • A blend of organic green tea leaf, green matcha tea leaf and goji berries. This is one of my favorite teas of all time. Unlike many berry-flavored teas, this one isn't overwhelmingly tart.
  • Yogi Tea: Green Tea Super Antioxidant
    • With grapeseed extract, emblic fruit extract, and herbs like lemongrass and green tea leaf, this tea has a very grassy flavor; it even tastes healthy.
  • Yogi Tea: Green Tea Energy
    • With Asian ginseng root, green tea, lemongrass, spearmint and kombucha. I drink this one when I need an energy boost.
  • Celestial Seasonings: Tropical Acai Berry Green Tea
    • A blend of green tea, hibiscus, natural flavors of acai berry, mango, banana, blackberry leaves, guarana and acai berry fruit.
  • Celestial Seasonings: Blueberry Breeze Green Tea
    • Green tea, hibiscus, blueberry flavors, and blackberry and blueberry leaves give this tea an extra fruity flavor.
  • Yogi Tea: Green Tea Pomegranate
    • A blend of green tea leaf, hibiscus flower, pomegranate juice powder and stevia leaf makes this one very tart and sweet.

Red Tea

red

red tea

Red tea, also known as Rooibos, comes from South Africa. It has a rich taste and no caffeine. Most red tea is picked by hand and goes through oxidation. Red tea is known for its variety of health benefits, including extremely high levels of antioxidants and generous doses of important minerals. In some parts of the world, red tea is used to help with headaches, insomnia, nervous tension, asthma, eczema and other medical conditions.

Red teas I recommend:

  •  Taylors of Harrogate: Rooibos With Vanilla
    • This is a sweet and aromatic tea. I like to enjoy this one with dessert.
  •  Twinings of London: African Rooibos Red Tea
    • This one is a basic red tea with a full-body flavor.

White Tea

white

white tea

White tea goes through no oxidation. To prevent oxidation, it is air-dried immediately after being picked, then steamed or fired. This tea has a much lighter taste and color than others. Because the tea is so subtle, it is best paired with lighter fruits, flowers and flavors to prevent overpowering the tea. It has also been noted in many studies to have the highest levels of antioxidants of the tea varieties.

White teas I recommend:

  •  The Republic of Tea: Honeydew Melon White Tea
    • The simple mixture of pure white tea and natural honeydew melon flavor make this one of my favorite teas.
  •  Celestial Seasonings: Antioxidant Plum White Tea
    • This tea has a sweet, subtle flavor--another one of my favorites.
  •  Numi: Velvet Garden White Rose
    • The subtle, flowery flavor of this tea is soothing and relaxing.
  •  Trader Joes: Pomegranate White Tea
    • I recommend this tea for those who like very tart flavors.

Yerba Mate

yerba

yerba mate

Mate contains half the caffeine of coffee and twice the antioxidants as green and black tea. The yerba mate plant comes from South America-its leaves and stems are dried and brewed to make the healthful drink that is gaining popularity in America. The combination of caffeine, antioxidants, and a wide range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytonutrients makes mate the most balanced stimulant. Mate has a unique flavor, sometimes bittersweet and sometimes smoky, depending on the way it is processed.

Yerba mate I recommend:

  •  Guayaki Yerba Mate: Traditional Mate
    • This is the basic mate--all organic with an earthy flavor. This one gives me a great energy boost without the jitters I often get when I drink coffee.
  • Guayaki Yerba Mate: Mate Chocolatté
    • A blend of cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and stevia. This one is sweet and rich, without the calories and additives of hot chocolate. I like it with milk or soy milk for a mate latte.
  • Eco Teas: Organic Yerba Mate
    • Another basic mate that offers a healthy boost of energy.

Herbal Tea

herbal

herbal tea

Herbal tea does not contain any caffeine. To be completely accurate, it is not actually tea but rather an infusion or blend of various herbs. It is made from plants, flowers, herbs and fruits to infuse flavor, and often health benefits, into a decaffeinated drink.

Herbal teas I recommend:

NOTE: All of the Traditional Medicines Teas are quite good. Each have a specific purpose-many even act as herbal dietary supplements.

  • Traditional Medicinals: Organic Golden Ginger
    • With organic ginger rhizome and organic chamomile flower. This tea is a great help when my stomach hurts or when I've eaten too much, as it supports healthy digestive function. It helps with indigestion, bloating and flatulence and has a strong and spicy flavor.
  • Traditional Medicinals: Organic Chamomile With Lavender
    • I drink this one before bed or when I'm stressed out. The mellow flavor of chamomile and lavender helps me relax and soothes my stomach.
  • Stash Tea: Mango Passionfruit
    • With rosehips, orange peel, safflower, hibiscus and lemongrass, this tea is sweet and fruity.
  • Trader Joes: Organic Mint Melange
    • A blend of peppermint, lemongrass and spearmint. Peppermint is a great tummy-soother and one of my favorite flavors, so this one is definitely a staple.
  • Yogi Tea: Honey Throat Comfort
    • With many herbs including honeybush, lemongrass and echinacea root to soothe the throat and boost the immune system. I get chronic sore throats and use this often to help soothe my throat.
  • Yogi Tea: Cold Season Sampler
    • With four different tea varieties, including:
      • Echinacea Immune Support: With a wellness formula including various types of echinacea and many other herbs like peppermint, lemongrass, cinnamon and ginger root to strengthen defenses and promote clear breathing. I drink a lot of this when I'm starting to get a cold and usually my colds only last a few days.
      • Cold season: A blend of ginger, cardamom and clove to support nasal and bronchial function, and eucalyptus and peppermint to promote free breathing.
      • Breathe deep: With thyme, eucalyptus, basil and mullein to soothe the respiratory tract and promote easy healing.
      • Throat comfort: Slippery elm and mullein relieves minor throat irritation and coats the throat to protect.
  • Yogi Tea: Rest and Relax Sampler
    • With four different tea varieties, including:
      • Kava Stress Relief: A blend of kava root, cinnamon bark, ginger root and sarsaparilla root to ease the mind and promote relaxation.
      • Chamomile: With nothing but chamomile to offer a simple, subtle flavor.
      • Bedtime: With valerian root, passion flower, spearmint, chamomile, skullcap, st. john's wort leaf and flower, and other herbs to promote healthy sleeping.
      • Calming: With licorice root, chamomile flower, hibiscus flower, lemongrass and other herbs to calm the mind and body.

Bonus: Yogi teas come with inspirational quotes on their boxes and tea bags. I was always a sucker for fortune cookies and really love the idea of getting a dose of inspiration along with my cup of tea.