In Poland, tea is as popular a drink as beer, vodka or kompot. In fact, many modern Poles prefer drinking tea with meals instead of alcohol. Tea is enjoyed throughout the day, from breakfast to lunch or dinner and many times in between. Light and healthy, it’s the popular drink of choice in Poland.
What Is Polish Tea?
Herbata, pronounced her-bah-tah, is the Polish version of tea. Not as strong as English tea, this Polish tea is usually consumed with lemon and sugar and is served in glass cups that you can see your tea through. So your host will always know when to refill your glass. Okay, that’s not the real reason, but we often have tea in glass cups as opposed to china or porcelain.
History Of Tea In Poland
Tea was discovered over 3,000 years ago by the Chinese Emperor Shennong and has been consumed in Asian countries for centuries. But it took till the 16th century for Christian priests to reach China and discover it.
The Dutch East India Company brought the first cargo of tea from Japan to Europe in 1609 and the rest is history. Well for Europe at least. Europeans started drinking tea and liked it, but Poles weren’t too sure.
Tea was not a beverage of choice in Poland till King Jan Kazimierz’s French wife, Marie Louise introduced it to the court in the 17th century. But yet, many notable Poles like Stanisław Trembecki and Reverend Kazimierz Kluk still thought tea was dangerous.
It was only in the 18th century that tea became popular as a healing drink for many ailments. The second half of the 18th century saw tea growing in popularity and by the 20th century, it became more popular than coffee.
There are many types of tea in Poland. Here are some of the most popular Polish tea to drink!
Most Popular Polish Tea
1. Polish Tea With Lemon
This is the most common form of Polish tea. Simply made by adding fresh lemon juice and honey to black tea, it’s warming and healthy. The Vitamin C in lemon tea also provides a good boost to immunity.
There are many variations of herbata with lemon. For example, a mix of herbata with lemon, honey, or sugar is both soothing and refreshing. It’s also great for treating coughs or sore throats, and a great pick-me-up!
2. Polish Tea With Homemade Raspberry Syrup (Herbata Malinowa)
Traditionally made black, Polish tea can have honey or lemon juice added to it. But tea made with fruit is even better. Malinowa or malina are dried and crushed to make a fruity raspberry tea called herbata malinowa.
This tea is full of Vitamin C and other nutrients, it’s a good addition to any diet. When raspberry leaves are also added to the tea, it becomes a good source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. No wonder, we’re recommended to drink it while breastfeeding.
Of course, when the simple raspberry tea is not available, you can try adding malinowy syrup to black tea!
3. Polish Tea With Milk (Bawarka)
It’s not the English and the Asians that drink tea with milk. Poland too has tea with milk called bawarka. The word translates to ‘Bavarian’ implying that the tea comes from Bavaria although it might have actually originated in France.
It probably found its way into Poland during the Four-Year Seym in the 18th century. Before that, Polish tea was usually served with half a cup of cream and half a cup of water. The modern version of bawarka is made by pouring half a glass of tea into half a glass of hot milk.
4. Polish Highlander Tea (Herbata z prądem)
Literally translating to tea with shocks, or tea with electricity, herbata z paradem is tea that has alcohol in it. It’s also called highlander tea or mountain tea because it’s usually drunk in the mountainous regions of Poland.
The perfect solution for winter evenings or even chilly autumn days, the herbata z pradem is usually made with vodka. But you don’t have to be picky. You can use rum, brandy, or any liqueurs that you love. See my Polish winter tea recipe.
5. Polish Tea With Quince (Herbata z pigwą)
Herbata z pigwa is a Polish tea made with tea, quince, and lemons. The nutrient-rich tea has many benefits, from being full of antioxidants and nutrients to tackling digestive issues, preventing cancer, and aiding in weight loss. Quince and lemon tea is perfect with or without sugar!
6. Polish Herbal Teas
There are many other Polish herbal teas that you’ll love tasting when in Poland or in any other country around the globe!
- Peppermint Tea: Rich in essential oils and flavonoids, it’s the perfect stress reliever.
- Hibiscus Tea: Rich in antioxidants and a natural antidepressant, this sour tea prevents free radical damage and boosts the immune system.
- Lemon Balm Tea: Tea made from lemon balm leaves called herbatka ziołowa melisa is extremely calming and relaxing. Full of antioxidants and free radicals, it’s also a good digestive aid and sleep inducer.
- Cistus Tea: Czystek or cistus is a plant in the rock rose family that’s a popular anti-inflammatory Polish tea. Cistus tea is known to promote brain and heart health as well as improve bone structure.
- Cranberry Tea: Tart and fruity, the żurawina or cranberry tea is a delight in the chilly winter weather. Without being excessively sweet, it’s both warming and healthy at the same time. Since cranberry contains melatonin, it’s also the perfect drink to have before bed for a good sleep!
The Most Popular Polish Tea Brands
This British brand of tea started by Sir Thomas Lipton is popular all over the world. We love it in Poland too! From unsweetened black teas or green teas that are good for health to fruit teas such as forest fruit or passionfruit and more, the brand has something for everyone.
2. Babcia Jagoda
The brand offers Polish tea that’s so potent, that it’ll feel like it was made by your grandmother. Some friends actually use one tea bag to make two cups of tea!
Although it’s owned by Unilever like Lipton tea is, the Saga tea brand is produced locally in Poland. The brand started in 1996 in Katowice with the Polish consumer in mind. And since then, it has grown to become a household name among Polish tea brands.
In fact, in 2017, Saga tea held over 30% share of the Polish market. Saga is best known for its herbata czarna (black tea)!
Known to over 84% of the Polish market, Herbapol started as Zielarskiego in 1949. For over 70 years, the brand has been producing teas, syrups, jams, spreads, preserves, and more using natural ingredients.
Becla is different from other Polish tea brands! The company was started by my friend Ania’s parents and does not use tea leaves in their teas. Rather, they use hot air to dry fruits and herbs in different combinations to create teas. So it’s always ‘strawberry tea’ or ‘gooseberry tea’ but not simply ‘tea’.
The traditional method of drying with hot air that’s used to make Becla teas ensures that the maximum of nature’s goodness is preserved. Preservatives such as sulfur which are often found in other products are not used here.
Instead, you will actually be able to see pieces of fruit or herbs in your tea. These high-quality teas are also sugar-free and salt-free.
Becla teas are available in many shops in Poland, including Spiżarnia Babuni in Warsaw and Hildegarda in Krakow.
Featuring unique pyramid-shaped teabags, the Belin range of teas is much more than a traditional Polish tea. Made with carefully selected herbs and fruits from Polish orchards, the teas are rich and delicious and release an aromatic bouquet that will take you back to summer in Poland.
Serving Poles since 1901, the most popular flavor combinations of Belin tea are tranquil lemon balm and raspberry, mineral-rich nettle and pear, medicinal camomile and elderberry, and juicy cherries and strawberries.
Established in 1988 by two brothers in Mragowo, Poland, the factory is surrounded by lakes and forests. Bastek Coffee & Tea produces Polish tea that’s exported to the UK, India, Germany, Canada, Australia, and more.
Their green teas are especially popular, as are their herbal teas and fruit teas. The brand is also popular for its two-chamber sachets that prevent the use of staple pins or metal clips in tea bags.
8. Big Active
Innovative and different, since 2000, the Big Active tea brand has been producing teas that are a beautiful combination of large tea leaves, flowers, and fruit.
Now owned by the Herbapol brand, they produce a variety of white teas (aloes, jasmine, oranges, lemons), green teas (papaya and goji berries, raspberry and passion fruit, bergamot, prickly pear and mango, quince and pomegranate, lime and tangerine), black teas (Ceylon black and Earl Gray black), and many fruit teas.
Think of a fruit or flower you want as tea, and they’ll have it. Literally! Big Active also produces red teas with different flavors, from grapefruit to lemon!
9. Malwa Tea
Focusing on natural fruit and herbs, Malwa teas are delicious whether served hot or cold. Made from real fruits, the teas include essential vitamins that improve health and your mood.
From the healthy green tea that helps you to slim down and detox to the magical fruit-flavored teas that supplement your diet, Malwa teas have been catering to Polish needs for over 30 years.
Some popular Malwa teas include:
These are some of the most popular teas in Poland. How many of them have you tried? Which teas are your favorite? Comment and let us know!