You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

54 Sleep Teas Later, Here Are the Tastiest—& Sleepiest

Food52 logo Food52 1/14/2022 Kelly Vaughan

After two weeks of drinking sleep-inducing herbal teas, I have never been so tired in my life. Regardless of flavor, these teas absolutely knocked me out. Like in the middle of the workday and during my pre-bed yoga practice (sorry, Adriene).

Drinking tea before bed is said to have a calming effect, improve sleep quality, and overall give you a restful sleep. Here’s the thing: I haven’t had a bad night’s sleep since 1995 when I was a nocturnal newborn. I’ve slept through phones ringing in the middle of the night and literal trees falling down (the norm during snowy Connecticut winters). I didn’t think I had any sleep problems that needed fixing, especially from just an eight-ounce cup of bedtime tea, but I was wrong. As I worked my way through 54 different caffeine-free tea bags, I found myself dozing off at inconvenient times, which I’m sure was only encouraged by my pandemic habit of working in a nearly horizontal position on the couch in front of the television.

I broke all of the teas down into six categories: classic bedtime, chamomile, lavender, spiced, fruity, and green teas. I ranked my favorite tea and the runner-up in each category. There were plenty of teas I tried that were not bad, but they weren’t exactly my cup of tea (had to). Along the way, I try to explain my own personal tasting biases—i.e. I have a huge sweet tooth and hate plain ole black tea—which certainly affected my overall impressions.

Le Creuset Classic Whistling Tea Kettle © Provided by Food52 Le Creuset Classic Whistling Tea Kettle Le Creuset Classic Whistling Tea Kettle a close up of a bottle: Palais des Thés Signature Tea Blends © Provided by Food52 Palais des Thés Signature Tea Blends Palais des Thés Signature Tea Blends Bellocq Tea Strainers (Set of 2) © Provided by Food52 Bellocq Tea Strainers (Set of 2) Bellocq Tea Strainers (Set of 2)
My Grandmother's Chai Is the Special Tradition I'll Keep Forever © Provided by Food52 My Grandmother's Chai Is the Special Tradition I'll Keep Forever My Grandmother's Chai Is the Special Tradition I'll Keep ... a cup of coffee on a table: The 25 Coziest Gifts for Your Favorite Tea Lover © Provided by Food52 The 25 Coziest Gifts for Your Favorite Tea Lover The 25 Coziest Gifts for Your Favorite Tea Lover

Best Classic Bedtime Tea

The category that started it all. I found that most bedtime or relaxing teas start with a trio of chamomile, spearmint, and lemongrass, including Celestial Seasonings (you know the bear). Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make a good cup of pre-sleep tea, but my favorites were enhanced by citrus and floral ingredients too.

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“This most beloved of herbal teas gets its comforting aroma and perfectly balanced flavor from a blend of soothing herbs, including delicate chamomile, cool spearmint, and fresh lemongrass.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

Celestial Seasonings, the OG producer of “sleepytime teas” sells probably a dozen variations on this classic blend, but this one was the best. The flavors of chamomile and spearmint were well-balanced, but I do think that it could have benefited from a longer steep time (I’d recommend seven minutes instead of the suggested four to six minutes) or a second tea bag.

Runner Up: DavidsTea Valerian Nights

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“Relax and unwind with a scrumptious caffeine-free infusion of rich caramel and creamy coconut. It’s sweet. It’s decadent. And it’ll have you pajama-ready thanks to its calming base of valerian root—one of nature’s most popular sleepytime ingredients.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

Aside from chamomile and lavender, valerian root is one of the most popular sleep aid ingredients in tea. This one from DavidsTea smells lovely, but tastes very sweet. Admittedly, I did not read the ingredients list on this one before drinking it, which is why I was so off-put by its flavor. Once I read the ingredients (apple, coconut, and caramel were the dominating flavors), this made more sense and I ultimately drank the entire cup. Cue the ZZZs.

Best Chamomile Tea

For this test, I tried eight different chamomile teas. None of them were bad, but that could be because I’m biased and do enjoy drinking the occasional cup of chamomile. Some I tried were perfectly fine but could have benefited from a longer steep or a second tea bag, which I think demonstrates that the contents in the original tea bag are maybe not as high-quality as others (or maybe it’s proof that I just like a really strong cup of tea). However, two stood above the rest, metaphorically speaking:

Tazo Calm Chamomile

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“We’ve always wondered what it's like to float away on a sun-drenched bed of clouds, so we crafted a tea that we think creates the same feeling. Chamomile, rose petals, lemon balm, and peppermint blend together creating a perfect cloud-top calm moment.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

This was a really enjoyable cup of chamomile. It was lighter and more floral than the usual chamomile, thanks to accent ingredients like hibiscus flowers and rose petals. I kept coming back to this one as a palate cleanser after sipping some less easily drinkable ones. Its aroma is fragrant without clearing out your sinuses, which is to say it smells like a warm spring day (grab your jean jacket).

Runner Up: Rishi Chamomile Medley

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“Our gourmet chamomile blend offers a honey-like sweetness with subtle, soothing counterpoints of citrus-scented herbs. Chamomile has been used as a calming folk herb tea throughout the Mediterranean for millennia, dating back to Ancient Greece. This timeless blend is designed to relax, refresh and please the palate.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

This is a solid cup of chamomile tea if what you like is plain chamomile tea. I was actually surprised to see that this one is made with additional herbs and aromatics, as ingredients like lemongrass and spearmint were less pronounced than in other medleys I tried.

Best Lavender Tea

I was very skeptical of drinking lavender tea and honestly, I kept putting it off. I expected that all would taste like soap or smell like walking into a Lush store in 2008. And some did. Others were a genuine cup of liquid tranquility, so without further ado:


Video: I Fell in Love with Dried Beans So Much I Joined a Bean Club (My Recipes)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“Relax and breathe in the enchanting aroma of our Honey Lavender Stress Relief tea. Traditionally used relaxing herbs lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm combine in this delicious blend to soothe your mind and body during a stressful day or to unwind into a restful night.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

I decided to take Yogi at their word and attempted to relax and breathe in their promised relaxing aroma. “Oh, that’s lovely!” I said to myself and Ross Geller, my usual Thursday afternoon company. This one smelled fresh and floral and was a far cry from any cotton candy-colored bath bombs. The flavor was much better than I expected too and the hint of lemon was quite soothing. I will note that although this tea is called Honey Lavender, lavender flower and lavender flavor are the 8th and 11th ingredients on the list, respectively, and honey flavor is the very last ingredient. If you’re looking for a true lavender tea, this is not it. But if what you’re after is a soothing blend, boil some water, grab your favorite mug, and settle into The One Where Everybody Finds Out!

Runner Up: Tazo Dream

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“With our soothing blend of superstar valerian root, calming chamomile, aromatic lavender, almond, and sweet hints of vanilla flavor, dreamland awaits. Let's go, you beautiful dreamer you.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

My initial impression was that this tea (which is technically a chamomile-lavender blend) was not bad, but could have benefited from a longer steep (I’d suggest six to seven minutes rather than the recommended four minutes). The flavor was smooth, sans any astringency, and tasted like a fruitier version of regular chamomile. This one lost imaginary points for the aftertaste, which had a cloying, artificial vanilla-almond flavor.

Best Spiced Teas

My palate for teas tends to lean spicy, so I was both extra excited and admittedly, probably a little too critical of these teas. Perhaps that plays into the fact that I found most of these to be quite bad. Or maybe they are just quite bad.

Palais Des Thes Rooibos Des Vahines

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

Most of the box is written in French so I honestly don’t know, but here’s the gist of it: “Be swept away to a tropical island with this indulgent, warming rooibos offering vanilla and almond flavours.” Don’t mind if I do.

What It Actually Tastes Like

Allow me to take you to an iconic scene from 17 Again in which Ned Gold (the best friend of protagonist Mike O’Donnell, played by Matthew Perry) dramatically swirls, sniffs, sips, and swishes a glass of red wine and then says, “that’s delightful.” That’s how I feel about this tea. It has a pronounced almond aroma that does not smell at all artificial. Does it immediately transport me to St. Barts with Jimmy Buffet serenading me in the background? No (though I will be manifesting that for 2022). Does it make me want to go to sleep? Not really. But it’s a delicious, high-quality cup of tea that I definitely plan to drink again.

Runner Up: None

Sadly, the rest of the spiced teas that I tried tasted like watered-down chai tea or had a bad aftertaste of artificial vanilla flavor (a common ingredient). And I’m sure you don’t want to spend money on the tea that I noted was “drinkable, but not enjoyable.” So for your sake and mine, let’s just move on.

Best Fruity Teas

I don’t typically associate fruit teas with better sleep, but a few of these blends included sleep-inducing ingredients like chamomile, lemongrass, and spearmint.

DavidsTea Sleepy Lychee

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“This delicate & fruity gold blend is rooted in sweet lychee with a myriad of floral jasmine notes. If you’re familiar with jasmine, we think you’ll agree that the scent alone brings a sense of calm. We then mixed in delectable lime tree blossoms & relaxing lemongrass. Nighty night, tea fam.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

For a lychee tea, it seems silly that lychee is the very last ingredient in this tea. Really, David? But lychee is naturally quite sweet, and so is this tea, so I guess it’s good that it’s not higher on the ingredients list. The aroma is relatively mild compared to the lovely contents inside the cup. I will say, this tea did not make me want to go to sleep at all, but rather wear a lei and eat fried rice with pork belly served inside a partially hollowed pineapple. And if you prefer less sweet, fruit-forward teas (like my English breakfast-drinking mother), you probably won’t like this.

Runner Up: Tazo Glazed Lemon Loaf

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“Revel in a dessert-worthy tea with tangy notes of lemon & velvety, creamy vanilla.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

Apparently, this tea went totally viral on TikTok for its dessert-like qualities. And this actually does taste like the super moist glazed lemon loaf from Starbucks that used to be my go-to airport snack. It doesn’t taste like other bedtime teas in that it’s not cozy or earthy. But it’s delicious to drink at 8pm with dessert just before bed. For more buttery, lemony flavor, I’d recommend steeping it for a minute or two longer than what the package recommends.

Best Green Tea

Green teas are generally not known as a sleep aid, which is why they’re last on this list, but I did find a couple of them to be extremely soothing. If what you’re after is feeling just slightly less stressed about, oh I don’t know, rising Omicron cases, work-life balance, or who Pete Davidson will date next, these teas will help you feel better (take it from someone who is constantly stressed about Pete Davidson’s love life).

Palais Des Thes Jet Lag Wake Up

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“A blend of green tea, mate, and matcha with notes of ginger and grapefruit to help you regain your energy.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

Ironically, this soothing sleep tea is actually inspired to give you a burst of energy after a long flight. However, I found it to be quite charming and relaxing. It delivered zen vibes in every zip and I thought “This must be how Gwyneth Paltrow feels every day.” It tasted like fading sunshine or the glare on a portrait in a Polaroid—aka very subtly fruity with a smooth, calming finish. Mate is a drink widely known for its energizing benefits, so I wouldn’t recommend drinking this tea, which contains mate as its second of just four ingredients, before bed; if you are, however, looking for a tea to help reduce feelings of the stress of anxiety, this is your gal.

Runner Up: Vahdam Teas Chamomile Mint Citrus

What It’s Supposed to Taste Like

“Fresh and pure green tea blended with buoyant chamomile, mint, and citrusy notes of lemongrass.”

What It Actually Tastes Like

What most impressed me about Vahdam Teas was the practical packaging. The loose leaf tea came vacuum-sealed in a pine green bag, which you then transferred to a new pine green resealable bag. The process was a little messy, but it made me believe that I was tasting the freshest tea possible. And this was a lovely cup of green tea (coming from someone who assumed for years that green tea would just taste like vegetable broth). This is a delicious, albeit not-at-all sweet, introduction to the category.

What’s your favorite bedtime tea? Sound off in the comments below!
AdChoices

More from Food52

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon