Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

Which brand of tea bag makes the best tasting cuppa?

Our experts taste test tea from Lipton, Dilmah, T2, Twinings and more, and we also take a look at health benefits.

making black tea with a tea bag
Last updated: 07 March 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Tea is one of the oldest beverages, and the second-most commonly consumed drink in the world after water. In 2022, 6.7 billion kilograms of tea were consumed globally and it's predicted this figure will rise over the coming years.

To determine which supermarket black tea bag tastes best, CHOICE gathered four expert tea taste testers and asked them to rate 32 supermarket black tea bags.

They assessed flavour, aroma, mouthfeel, colour and aftertaste to provide a CHOICE Expert Rating, and also gave an intensity rating.

CHOICE tester in a lab coat

Australia's source of unbiased reviews

  • No fake reviews
  • No advertising
  • No sponsorships

The tea bags that topped the taste test

It was a little crowded at the top of the table, with several products tying for their spots. 

  • Coming in first place is Aldi's Just Organic Black Tea.
  • Tying for second place are Coles Tea Cup Bags and Tetley Extra Strong Tea Bags. 
  • Tying for third place are Lipton Quality Black Tea and Nerada Single Origin Black Tea.

It's worth noting that three of these top performers – the Coles, Tetley and Nerada products – came in among the cheapest teas (according to the price per tea bag). We always love a frugal alternative that wins on taste!

Aldi Just Organic Black Tea

Just Organic (Aldi) Black Tea

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 81%
  • Intensity score: 57%
  • Price: $2.99, 6c per bag
  • Flavour profile: Floral, fruity
  • Compostable bag: No
  • Shop Ethical rating: C
Tetley Extra Strong Tea Bags

Tetley Extra Strong Tea Bags

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 73%
  • Intensity score: 54%
  • Price: $4.60, 5c per bag
  • Flavour profile: Floral, earthy (wood), fruity
  • Compostable bag: Yes (remove staple)
  • Shop Ethical rating: F
Coles Tea Cup Bags

Coles Tea Cup Bags

  • CHOICE Expert Rating:73%
  • Intensity score: 57%
  • Price: $1.90, 2c per bag
  • Flavour profile: Floral, sweet, earthy (wood)
  • Compostable bag: Not stated 
  • Shop Ethical rating: C

What made these tea bags the best?

There's more to this pantry staple than you'd think. All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the regions and processing make a difference to the varieties, and therefore the taste of the tea. 

Interestingly, the teas that scored highest were likely to be described as 'floral'. And the top-scoring tea was a certified organic product – Aldi Just Organic Black Tea.

If you're looking for a tea that delivers on intensity, our expert judges scored Australian-grown Nerada Single Origin Black Tea and Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Proper Strong Black Tea as the strongest teas in this test, giving them both an intensity score of 71%. 

Can you compost tea bags?

This comes down to what the tea bag is made of. 

If a tea bag contains nylon or PET mesh, then it can't be composted at all. If PLA (polylactic acid, a biopolymer made from natural plant material) is used, then it can be composted industrially, but cannot be composted in your home compost. You can put it in your green or FOGO bin (if you have one) for the council to handle.

Two teas we tested claim to be compostable at home after the removal of the staple: 

  • Tetley Extra Strong Tea Bags
  • Tetley Tea Cup Bags.

The third Tetley tea in our test, Tetley All Rounder Tea Bags, are partially compostable (only part of the string, label or bag). 

Several tea bags in our test are industrially compostable (meaning you can put them in your FOGO council bin): 

  • Madura Organic English Breakfast 
  • Madura English Breakfast 
  • Madura Premium Blend
  • Twinings Assam Bold
  • Twinings Australian Afternoon
  • Twinings Everyday Black
  • Twinings English Breakfast 
  • Twinings English Breakfast Extra Strong
  • Twinings Irish Breakfast
  • Twinings Morning Tea
  • Woolworths Essentials Black Tea Bags.

T2 states that its tea bags are biodegradable and can be composted at home, but suggests it's best if they are commercially composted.

Dilmah claims its premium tea bags – which includes Dilmah Premium Ceylon Tea, Dilmah Premium Ceylon Black Tea, and Dilmah Extra Strength Premium Ceylon Tea from our test – are 98% biodegradable and 98–100% compostable.

boxes of tea lined up for the CHOICE black tea taste test

The CHOICE kettle was working overtime when our expert taste testers tried 32 different types of supermarket black tea bags.

Microplastics in tea

Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic less than 5mm in length. This plastic can break down even further and is then known as nanoplastic. Nanoplastics are less than 100 nanometres (nm). To put this in perspective, a single human hair has a diameter of about 75,000nm.

Due to their small size, microplastics effortlessly enter the environment, mainly through surface water run-off, treated and untreated wastewater sewage, industrial waste, and atmospheric deposition (where particles settle from the atmosphere onto Earth's surface).

The health concerns around nanoplastics include that they may increase inflammation, oxidative stress and the formation of some cancers.

Tea bags can be made from a range of materials but many are made from plastics, most commonly nylon and polypropylene (PP). Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), also a type of plastic, is often used to seal the tea bag. In a 2022 study, nylon was shown to release considerable amounts of plastic-related particles into the tea. 

Tea bags that use plant materials

Madura tea bags are made from plant materials, with the ingredients including Manila hemp, cellulose and PLA. T2 states that its tea bags are made from corn starch and are biodegradable, and PG Tips, an English brand, states that its bags are also made from corn starch and PLA and are biodegradable. However, PG Tips has come under fire recently as its tea bags supposedly fall apart in the water.

Tetley states that its string and tea bags are made from natural fibre and woven paper derived from abaca (which comes from the stalk of a banana plant) and short wood fibre. The All Rounder tagless tea bags are claimed to be 75% cellulose fibres (plant matter) and 25% non-specified food-safe plastic. Tetley claims this small amount of plastic is important for heat-sealing the teabags so that the tea does not break down in the cup.

Twinings states that its tea bags are made from paper and cotton string that is stitched in, so no glue or staple is used. The inks used on the tags are also biodegradable inks.

Woolworths states its tea bags are made from plant cellulose fibre and thermoplastic PLA biopolymer fibres.

Is black tea good for you?

Apart from the potential microplastics from tea bags, black tea has been shown to have some health benefits. 

It contains many types of polyphenols or antioxidants naturally found in plants that may reduce the risk of developing some chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, and can help prevent inflammation.

The types of polyphenols in black tea include L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate. 

L-theanine has been shown to improve cognitive function in older people. It may also make a small improvement in anxiety, and for those who have anxiety it may improve attention, and may also reduce blood pressure.

It contains many types of polyphenols or antioxidants naturally found in plants that may reduce the risk of developing some chronic diseases

Tea also contains GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is naturally found in the body and affects relaxation. However, research into the effects on the body has been inconclusive.

Black tea, if not drunk scaldingly hot, has been shown to be more beneficial than harmful and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Surprisingly, black tea and its extracts have also been shown to be beneficial for oral health in minimising dental caries, and reducing plaque and gingivitis. 

However, a 2022 review showed that drinking more than four to six cups of black tea a day may increase the risk of coronary artery disease. So keep it to one to two cups to be safe.

How much caffeine is in tea bags?

The amount of caffeine in tea differs depending on how the tea is made and brewed. Black tea can have about 19mg per 100mL. Looking at how that compares to coffee, a cappuccino is 47mg per 100mL, and this jumps up to 94mg per 100mL in a double shot. 

So if you're concerned about your caffeine intake and are a big coffee drinker, try substituting a coffee with a tea to cut down.

Black tea glossary

The type of plant (cultivar) used to make the tea plays a large role in how the tea looks and tastes. 

There are two main types of tea varieties that come from the Camellia sinensis species: Camellia sinensis var. assamica and Camellia sinensis var. sinensis. The sinensis plant is more of a traditional variety of plant traced back to China's Fujian province; the assamica is usually grown in Sri Lanka, India, Kenya and Indonesia. 

Oxidation creates the flavours and aroma of maltiness unique to black tea

Certain tea industries have continued to cultivate the plants over thousands of years to create unique tea varieties that suit the geographic location, processing techniques and local taste preferences.

What makes black tea different from other teas is that it's gone through an extensive oxidation process – which means it's been left to react with air under a certain temperature and humidity longer than other teas. Oxidation creates the flavours and aroma of maltiness unique to black tea.

Assam: Named after a state in northeast India, usually bitter and full bodied.

Ceylon: Black tea grown in the central mountains of Sri Lanka.

Darjeeling: Named after a state in India just east of Nepal, Darjeeling tea is made from the traditional Chinese Camellia sinensis var. sinensis plant and can be astringent.

Australian Afternoon: Dependent on what the manufacturer sees as Australian-style tea. According to Twinings, it is a blend of East African, Assam and high-grown Ceylon teas, while Nerada interestingly has an Australian Breakfast variety (not tested in this review) which uses a blend of Australian-grown black tea with lemon myrtle.

English Breakfast: The blend usually varies but it is said to use full-bodied teas such as Assam, Ceylon and African teas, so is full bodied and astringent.

Irish Breakfast: Said to be a stronger tea, with Assam as the main component of the tea blend.

Cathy Zhang

Cathy Zhang

Meet the taste testers

Cathy Zhang has a Bachelor in Tea Science from South China Agricultural University and a national qualification as a tea ceremony artist, professional tea taster and judge. She judges tea for the Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards and is the founder of Ms.Cattea Tea Bar in Sydney.

David Lyons

David Lyons

David Lyons is the Australian Tea Cultural Society (AUSTCS) founding director, a member of the China International Tea Cultural Institute (CITCI), and owner of 18ThirtyFour. He has over 26 years' experience in the Australian tea industry as a tea wholesaler, regional manager for The Tea Centre, and tea educator for the past 10 years.

Matthew Tran

Matthew Tran

Matthew Tran is the co-founder of Tea Angle, a Sydney-based tea business whose purpose is to make high-quality Chinese tea accessible and available to everyone. Tea Angle works directly with farmers and producers in rural China to bring high-quality, pure teas to tea lovers around the world. 

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh is a writer and tea enthusiast whose mission is to make tea culture accessible through appreciation. She judges tea for the Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards and runs The Sydney Tea Meetup, which hosts events for tea enthusiasts ranging from casual catch-ups over yum cha and high tea to more formal tea tastings and workshops.

How we tested


We tested 32 black tea bags that are available nationally in major supermarket chains. We did not test green, oolong, white, chai, fruit or herbal teas, or tea blends (such as Earl Grey) or decaffeinated tea.


This was a blind taste test where four expert judges were randomly assigned the tea samples. The total volume of boiled water used with each tea bag was 180mL and each tea was tasted black (without milk).

The CHOICE Expert Rating was determined by assessing colour, aroma, overall flavour, aftertaste and mouthfeel. Each tea was also given a rating to score its intensity, however this did not form part of the CHOICE Expert Rating. 

The judges also described the flavour notes of the tea, with profiles including floral, fruity, earthy, vegetal, umami, nutty, sweet, smoky and fire. Most of these also had subcategory profiles. The judges were asked to name the top three flavours they could taste (if any), as well as any other flavour profiles they detected.


We recommend any tea bag with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 70% or above.

Shop Ethical ratings

Shop Ethical is an Australian organisation that rates the environmental and social impact of various companies.

Its online tool and app can help you make more informed ethical purchases, with information on the environmental and social track record of companies behind well-known brands.

You'll see Shop Ethical ratings alongside some of our product reviews and test results (where available).

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.