New To Tea

I’m a college student who just got into drinking tea and I’m hooked. Right now, it’s cheap liptons, saladas, etc. I’ve got a college student budget and sleeping habits so I’m looking for reasonably priced teas with relatively high caffeine content. I really like some of the black teas I have tried, are there any suggestions on where I could go from here?

18 Replies

First off: Welcome to Steepster!

I’m always keeping an eye out for new tea drinkers to help out. I just graduated college last year and I remember the struggle of budgeting. One of the things I enjoy is conversations over tea, so if you’re up to small chats about tea; I’ll send you some stuff for free if you’re in the US/Canada. Everything I have is loose leaf and if you need a steeping device I can send you one as well.

Besides that: There are a few places to look at. I’d recommend Yunnan Sourcing, What Cha, and Upton to start out so you can get some ‘daily drinkers’. Try some DianHong, Darjeeling, and Assam to find out what road of black tea to go down. There are a lot of people on here who can help you with finding the teas you like based on what you say about them as well.

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Black tea has among the highest caffeine content of the different varieties of tea made from the camellia sinensis plant. Mate and Gyayusa are from different plants and also have a high caffeine content (They’re often listed under herbal teas on websites).

Adagio and Harney and Sons are two companies I would recommend checking out. They both have a wide variety of relatively inexpensive samples, and their websites are very well organized. They both sell loose and bagged teas. Bagged teas are very convenient, but you might want to consider loose tea since it will be less expensive, and you will have a wider variety of options.

If you decide to try loose teas, you’ll want a teaball or two (my favorite of the two I have is similar to this: and this: You might also want to pick up some paper filters (these are my favorite:, and small ziplocks: (×3+ziploc+bags) so you can make your own teabags. I just write the name of the tea on the ziploc with a permananent marker so I know which tea it is. If you decide to go the loose tea route, Davidson’s sells super cheap bulk tea:

Good luck with exploring your new interest!

AllanK said

If you are going to try loose teas you might want to pick up an inexpensive teapot. They are much better than teaballs. Here is an inexpensive example of a great teapot.
Another option, better than a teaball is one of these. They are also available on Amazoon or EBay in slightly different varieties.

I just got one of those filters, and I really like it! It works really well for fine herbal teas that slip through teaballs

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Casey select said

These are all great suggestions! :)

I’m going to do the sacrilegious, and recommend what I drank during college: Red Rose with a cinnamon stick thrown in, and Bigelow’s varieties (when it comes to boxed supermarket brands, I leaned toward Bigelow over Stash, Lipton, etc). When I graduated from college and suddenly could work more than 20 hrs a week, I also graduated to loose leaf tea. Until then, I had neither the money nor the space to keep loose leaf tea and its few accessories. :3

That isn’t to say you can’t enjoy loose leaf tea on a budget or when you’re tight for space—in some respects it could very well be cheaper than bagged teas. And they do make tumblers for loose leaf tea. I just remember the whirlwind that life can be in college. ;)

I agree that Bigelow has some of the better Black teas among the supermarket brands I’ve tried (I haven’t had Red Rose). I drank a lot of their Vanilla Chai and the Orange Spice one (Constant Comment?) in college.

Casey select said

Red Rose, as far as super cheap black tea goes, is better than Lipton IMO, but I really can’t love it without adding something to it (cinnamon, cream, etc.) Constant Comment is still something I keep in my cupboard for my tea-on-the-go ziploc. lol

I agree with the Bigelow being a good cheap tea. I only use Lipton for making ice tea we make by the half gallon a couple times a week so it’s most economical.

Casey select said

That IS a lot of ice tea. ;)

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I’m relatively new to tea also and I’ve been trying to get my hands on all the different types of tea I can in order to try them all, which is difficult to do on a budget. So I’ve been using a few different strategies: first, trying out the most inexpensive sampler packs, like Verdant’s 5 for $5 sampler and Yezi’s 6 for $6 sampler. (You can find more sampler ideas on the sampler thread.)

Second, I’ve been taking advantage of opt-in opportunities, like’s free $5 coupon (Adagio also has a great system where you can earn points that translate to about 60 cents per review and 10 cents every time you share on social media that you’re having a cup of tea from Adagio. It’s kind of cool. Oh, and they like to send free samples). Third, I’ve been following the sales thread:

Whenever a tea company has a good sale I go check out their website and see if they have anything that looks interesting.

And if you’re looking for lots of caffeine, I think matcha would be your best bet because (depending on how much powder you use per cup) it can actually have as much caffeine as coffee, although generally it tastes better in a more diluted form. (Don’t ask me how I know.) :P Of course, matcha is totally unlike other types of tea, and if black tea is your thing, you might not like matcha at all. It’s also really expensive, but if you want to try it on the cheap you can do what I did: go to and put a sample of their deluxe matcha into your shopping cart, then use their deluxe matcha $5 off coupon and you should end up only having to pay about 57 cents. They also claim to give you an extra $5 off coupon for every product you review, but I haven’t got that far yet.

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AllanK said

Try a website called, or Simpson and Vail. They have excellent quality teas at very reasonable prices. They have something like 350 different teas available for purchase. I have probably ordered from them ten times or so. They are perhaps not quite as good as someone like Whispering Pines but they are less than half the price and are definitely not half the quality. I have gotten good black teas, oolongs and greens from them. They don’t sell much in the way of puerh.

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LuckyMe said

Aliexpress is the ultimate for cheap tea. It can be a gamble but you can pick up tons of black tea for wholesale prices.

Yunnan Sourcing and Teavivre are also good options for reasonably priced tea.

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mrmopar said

Welcome in here with all us tea nuts!

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Hi Nick,

Welcome to steepster

For all black teas go through this first of all try some sampler first then decide which one is good for you.

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Earl Grays from any company tend to be high caffeine with low cost. I work at Teavana and ours is $4.99 for 2 oz and can be resteeped. IDK, I do like the sweet and spicy by good earth but I don’t know how much caffeine is in it, but there is a black tea version. That one is the teabag I feel in love with first before I ever discovered loose leaf so I hope you get a chance to try it!

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Okay, since nobody has mentioned it yet, I have to say that one of the best sites I’ve found price-wise is (especially when they’re having a 30% off sale, which they are right now! It ends tomorrow, I think). I don’t know how their quality compares to other tea companies ‘cause I’m not that experienced, but I’ve been happy with the teas I’ve ordered from them, so if budgeting is a big concern maybe you could check out their website. You can get really cheap samples of pretty much all their teas, too (like a dollar or two), which is better than a lot of other places.

(Oh yeah: AND they have FREE tea sometimes that they give away because it’s expired or something. Right now they have a ginger peach flavored black tea that they’re giving away for free.)

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