Best Teas for Backpackers

Best Teas for Backpackers

A hot beverage while out backpacking can really boost your morale and provide some health benefits as well.  I like to take tea because it is convenient, lightweight, and there are so many different types and flavors.  The four main types of true tea all come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis.  They are White Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, and Oolong Tea and they all contain caffeine.  Herbal teas are not considered “real tea” because they don’t actually contain any leaves from the tea plant.  They are instead made up of various flowers, spices, herbs, and dried fruits and are caffeine free.  I enjoy both “real tea” and herbal teas and they both offer benefits so I will be discussing both in this article.

Anti Inflammatory Teasturmeric root

Backpackers work hard.  There are long days of hiking many miles, carrying a heavy load, and sitting and sleeping on the ground for days on end.  Your body will be sore and you will probably have at least some low level inflammation going on.  Sipping on a tea made with Turmeric or Ginger root can really ease some of that low grade inflammation and help your aches and pains dissipate.  Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Asian foods.  It has a yellowish color and a bitter taste.  Turmeric has many medicinal properties and is a well known treatment for inflammation and pain.  It contains a compound called curcumin which studies have shown provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects by blocking pro-inflammatory molecules from doing their job.  Ginger is a plant native to Asia and references to its medicinal uses have been found in ancient Chinese, Arabic, Indian, and Greco-Roman writings.  It is commonly known for its easing of digestive upsets but is also powerful for reducing inflammation and pain.

Rishi Tea Turmeric Ginger            Tea Box Mango Turmeric Tang

stinging nettleEnergy Boosting Teas

Whether you need a pick up early in the morning to get going or mid day when your body starts getting fatigued there are teas that will energize and revitalize you.  Many people just cannot do without caffeine in the mornings but coffee can be dehydrating which is not beneficial especially while hiking .  Tea leaves contain more caffeine than coffee, however, once brewed the tea contains less caffeine than coffee so you will still get your caffeine fix, just not as potent.  Of all brewed teas, black teas have the most energy boosting caffeine.  An 8 oz cup of black tea provides 60-90 mg of caffeine, which is about half the amount in a cup of coffee.  Stinging nettle is an herbal tea without caffeine that can really boost your energy.  Nettles contain many vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, vitamins A, C, E, K, and most of the B’s.  They also contain more chlorophyll than any other land plant!  Nettles are used by modern herbalists to treat under active thyroid and adrenal fatigue.

The Republic of Tea Nettle Superherb

The Republic of Tea Cranberry Blood Orange Black Tea

For a Restful Night’s Sleepchamomile flowers

Many people find it hard to sleep while backpacking.  If you’re like me, you’re probably mentally excited but physically exhausted especially that first night out on trail.  Not only that, but sleeping on the ground wrapped up tight in a sleeping bag can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay alseep.  To get a restful night sleep, I recommend herbal teas without caffeine such as chamomile and lavender.  Chamomile is one of the oldest and widely used medicinal herbs known to man.  It has a really wide variety of healing applications including treating insomnia, reducing anxiety, nightmares, and other sleep disorders.  Lavender has antioxidant components that impact your endocrine system, reducing levels of stress hormones in the body.   You might also be a cold sleeper and get chilly on those high elevation mountain nights.  To help you stay warm throughout the night, look for teas with cinnamon and drink it right before bed.  Cinnamon has tannins that have a drying effect on our mucous membranes which raises our body temperature.  It is also a natural blood thinner which can improve circulation and give your metabolic activity a boost.  

Tea Tonic Be Sleepy Relaxing Bedtime Tea

The Republic of Tea Bio-dynamic Turmeric Cinnamon

Teas that Aid Digestionginger

Its quite common to have digestive upsets while backpacking.  You might be eating foods that are a little different from what you typically eat at home and you will probably be eating at different times than usual.  I know I eat a lot more and a lot more frequently while hiking.  Ginger is the best thing that I have found for an upset stomach.  Ginger root contains chemicals that relax the intestinal tract, relieving nausea and stomach pain.  African Nectar (aka Bush tea or Rooibus tea) is also great for easing heartburn, ulcers, and constipation.

Teabox Tulsi Ginger                                A Mighty Leaf African Nectar

Teas that Help Replenish Electrolyteshibiscus

Its important to maintain balanced electrolytes while exercising.  Electrolytes control every nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and blood PH.  If your electrolytes are out of balance you can easily become dehydrated which can cause headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.  Eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water should keep your electrolytes in check but there are a few herbal teas that you can supplement with.  The Hibiscus plant is known for its large colorful flowers and is popular herbal remedy throughout the world.  Hibiscus tea is tart and it contains potassium, chloride, magnesium, and sodium making it a perfect tea for backpacking.

 The Tao of Tea Hibiscus Ginger        Tea Forte Wild Berry Hibiscus 


I would love to hear about your favorite teas or beverages you take with you backpacking.  Leave a comment or question below!



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6 thoughts on “Best Teas for Backpackers”

  • I myself like having tea with me when I go hiking. It can be great for the little breaks.

    Some really good ideas about what kind of tea that is good to bring. If it is during the hike, I would prefer some of the more energy boosting teas you suggest.

    Are you usually making it from home and bringing it in a kettle or or you making a little fire and making it while hiking?


    • Hi Mikael,

      I usually bring either tea bags or loose leaf tea and heat up water on my stove. Check out my pages on lightweight stoves and lightweight cookware. Many places I backpack prohibit fires so a small portable stove is the way to go. It usually only takes a few minutes to boil some water and I boil and drink directly out of a titanium mug.

  • I’ve never really thought about taking teas with me while backpacking. I’m sure after being out all day a little natural caffeine to give you a boost would be nice. The stinging nettle sounds like it would give you energy and with all the vitamins and minerals it contains be healthy at the same time.
    Would you need to drink other fluids with the tea because of the diuretic effect of caffeine?

    • One cup of black tea has only half the amount of caffeine as the same amount of coffee so its effects are pretty minimal. I’ve never felt dehydrated after drinking tea while hiking. Do be sure to still drink water and eat well. If you’re worried about it, stick with the herbal teas since they are all caffeine free 🙂

  • Hi Katie, great post. I have been to several hiking adventures but never considered bringing tea. This is an enlightening article as it will definitely guide me and my friends. I will share this to them as I find all the things you mentioned very important. Thank you very much =)

    • Thanks for reading and sharing 🙂 While I really like coffee too, I like to add cream to it and I find that tea is less fuss while backpacking because I enjoy it on its own without cream. Its also just better for you and why not reap some of the many benefits while still getting some caffeine and a nice warm beverage.

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