Brewing your own tea is just as easy as standing in a line and waiting for your drink — and no one will spell your name wrong on your cup (Starbucks, we’re looking at you). Making it at home is far more cost-effective than buying a daily beverage to-go, so we’ve rounded up a list of places to get some loose-leaf tea for you to make yourself. Read on for a beginner’s guide including where to try different teas in Hoboken, and a guide to the best off-the-beaten-path tea shops in NYC for tea enthusiasts.
Many teas, including black, white, green, and oolong, come from the same plant, camellia sinensis, but the difference between them comes from how the teas are processed. As a general rule, darker teas, like black, tend to have higher amounts of caffeine, and lighter teas, like green and white, have lower amounts of caffeine, but both have high antioxidants.
A Doctor’s Endorsement
Hoboken’s Dr. Brian Chang recommends white and green tea because they both contain calming amino acid L-theanine, which can reduce anxiety and promote steady, focused attention. For healing herbal teas, Dr. Chang likes the Traditional Medicals line (e.g., Gypsy Cold Care, Breathe Easy) which often on sale at Basic Foods. If you feel like you’re about to catch something, Dr. Chang’s favorite immune booster tea is Oregon’s Wild Harvest Immuni-Tea.
How Much Caffeine Does Tea Contain?
By comparison, coffee has about 145 mg of caffeine per cup, while black tea contains about 65 mg (just under 50% of the caffeine of coffee), and green tea contains about 30 mg (just over 20% of the caffeine of coffee). If you’re worried about your caffeine intake, you can literally rinse away the majority of caffeine in tea by running the leaves through hot water before you brew it. Herbal teas, which have no caffeine at all, sometimes called tisanes, do not contain tea leaves and are composed of dried fruit and herbs.
A word of caution for you matcha-lovers: Matcha is higher in caffeine than many teas because it consists of powdered whole green tea leaves that get mixed into water and ingested, as opposed to traditional teas, where the leaves are steeped for a few minutes and then discarded.
Teabags are not good for tea leaves. Tea leaves need space to open and blossom in hot water. If you’re going to join the big leagues and brew your own tea, invest in an infuser that gives the tea some space to spread out as it steeps — a tea ball is too cramped. And don’t forget to store your loose tea in an air-tight container.
Each kind of tea has its own correct brewing temperature. Most teas should be steeped below boiling, as overheating or over-steeping them can result in a bitter, astringent taste. If you boil your water, let it cool a bit before you pour it over the leaves. Or, take the plunge and invest in a kettle that will reliably heat your water to the perfect temperature in seconds. It’s pricey but worthwhile if you’re a daily tea drinker. Even if you don’t have a teapot, you can make perfectly delicious loose tea with a regular pot if you McGuyver an infuser out of a coffee filter.
A Guide to Locally-Bought Tea in Hoboken
If you’ve only had Lipton black tea, you’re missing out. Tea offers something for everyone, from dark and spicy chai to light and fruity greens to soothing, after-dinner herbals like peppermint. To try your hand at home brewing, walk over to Basic Foods and head down the tea aisle. It offers dozens of discounted boxes, which makes it easy to pick out a few options to try.
bwè kafe | Multiple Locations in Hoboken + Jersey City
bwe kafe has a large selection of loose leaf teas to choose from in either regular or large. bwe provides loose-leaf options in chamomile, Earl Grey, English breakfast, oolong, lavender, and more.
CLO Coffee Co. | 97 Newkirk Street, Jersey City
(Photo credit: @clocoffeeco)
CLO is Journal Square’s go to spot. This cafe serves hibiscus berry, guava, peach blossom, ginger, and Early Grey lavender loose-leaf coffee.
Empire Coffee and Tea Co. | 338 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken
Empire has an amazing selection of loose-leaf coffee including Earl Grey, black currant, vanilla cream, apple cinnamon, hibiscus, strawberry, and many more!
Gaia’s Cavern |140 Wayne Street, Jersey City
Gaia’s Cavern is a beautiful spa with good vibes and even better facials. This gem offers loose leaf tea options like an organic rosebud and other unique blends.
Hidden Grounds Coffee | Multiple Locations in Hoboken + Jersey City
Hidden Grounds offers a variety of loose leaf tea options. The shop sources from Steven Smith tea maker in Portland. It offers green tea, which is jasmine silver tip as well as Lord Bergamot which is in the black tea selection. Additionally, there’s Assam black tea and herbal tea which is green rooibos.
Places to Shop in NYC
Sullivan Street Tea and Spice Company | 208 Sullivan Street, NYC
(Photo credit: @sullivanteashop)
A five-minute walk from the 9th Street PATH station, Sullivan Street Tea and Spice Company is another store you could easily get lost in. It offers an impressive range of teas at affordable prices, but the true allure of this store is the spice collection. The store is chock-full of large glass canisters holding oddities like dried ghost peppers, vanilla sugar made with vanilla beans, and an organic salad sprouting blend to grow your own bean sprouts on your kitchen counter. This is a fun shop to visit if you enjoy cooking, baking, mixology, or poking around a cool shop filled with curiosities. It’s easy to keep things affordable because you use a metal spoon to take as much or as little of the spices as you’d like.
T2 Tea | 67 Prince Street, NYC
This shop is a high-energy, giant space, with walls lined with pre-packaged 3.5 oz. boxes of tea averaging $12 – $14 per box. The friendly employees will brew you up a sample of anything you’d like to try for free — perfect if you’re in the mood to experiment.
McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co. | 109 Christopher Street
^ Ready to brew the perfect morning to-go cup of Dragonfruit Rose green tea from McNulty’s
Located one minute away from the Christopher Street PATH station, this shop has been selling tea and coffee out of this location since 1895. People travel from far and wide for the coffee, but the tea collection is extensive and varied. The teas are all laid out on tables within reach, so you’re free to open the canisters and smell them yourself.
Porto Rico Importing Company | 201 Bleeker Street, NYC
Just a few minutes away at 201 Bleeker Street, Porto Rico Importing Company has been selling coffee since 1907. The floors of the shop are covered in giant bags of beans But if you look upward, the walls are lined with shelves displaying large, metal tea canisters. An employee will take down anything you’d like to smell, but you’ve got to know a bit about your tastes to navigate their tea section, which is organized by type (e.g. herbal, black, oolong, white, green).
T Shop | 247 Elizabeth Street, NYC
(Photo credit: @tshopny)
This spot is another hidden gem where you can treat yourself to a private tasting of Taiwanese tea that you’ll never forget. A tea expert will brew you five different steepings of the same tea leaves. This may sound redundant, but you’ll be amazed by how the flavor changes with different steeping times. This is a slow, informative demonstration, so be prepared to put down your phone and soak up the experience.