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Here are some of the shops I visit frequently:
Lupicia Fresh Tea
As well as some on-line resources I'm fond of:
Scent by Spirit Teas
Oh, and now there's a tearoom in my very own Astoria, Queens, that sells quality tea at reasonable prices (I sound like a commercial): the Himalaya Tea House. I hope it stays here for a long time.
Rarely, I'll buy a respectable British tea - Taylors of Harrogate, maybe - in a pinch, at a grocery.
5arabella84 Primeira Mensagem
I am in Chicago, but was not familiar with this shop. Their prices seem quite high. Are they really worth it?
I don't like Scent by Spirit teas, in part because I think they use far too much packaging. For a sample of tea: tea in small ziploc pouch, inside a foil package, then clipped shut w/an individual metal clip. Holy wasteful Batman! Not to mention a pain in the ass. I love that Adagio uses the small metal tins, which are easy to reuse or recycle. I complained to SBS about their packaging & they said, "This is what our customers want." Ew.
It is excellent tea but I think their tisanes might be even better with whole dried berries and rosehips in them you can see why the price is high. The are also specific about weather a tea is first flush or second etc.
It might not be your every day cuppa but the shop is certainly worth a visit just to ogle the bins of tea.
I'm not crazy about the Scent by Spirit packaging either, and as I've tried more of their teas I'm not too impressed. But I love their hot chocolate!
http://www.neradatea.com.au/ - Nerada Tea is Australian (their main normal brand at least) which I find is much more tea like than other "normal" teas.
Some day I plan to win the lottery and start buying nice tea: looseleaf in a tin, like I've always dreamed. One ought to start playing the ol' lotto to make that possible, I suppose.
Herbal Teas: Peach Tranquility, Turkish Apple, Vermont Maple
Flavored Black Tea: Earl Grey Creme
White Tea: Silver Needle
The guy in the store also had me sample a blend that he'd created: Silver Needle, Peach Tranquility and a little sugar. Delicious! I am going to try to recreate it at home.
So, I'm on board with the earlier posts on the shop.
I like their unique blends, and am always tempted to purchase a teapot, but haven't yet.
Of course, if you order the "finest" teas--white teas, pu-erh, first-flush Darjeeling--you'll end up paying a lot more, but frankly I've found that a pleasant blend (Russian Caravan!) and a few different varieties of black tea are enough to satisfy me.
But if you were willing.... or interested, these caught my eye: Orchid Oolong, Formosa Silver Moon, Blend 103, Cream of Avalon, Chocolate Chai (cough, squirm), Provence Rooibos, Citrus Sunburst, Pineapple Orange fruit blend, or one of their exquisite-sounding tea-infused fruit jams.
As you can see, all are among the more distinctively personal blends, as it's less worthwhile to try their version of something I can get readily from the U.S. :) (Partly as I've got access to a massive range of single-estate and unflavored teas.) The estate teas and some blends I can readily duplicate, but these, less so.
Any sacrifice is appreciated. ;)
a great selection of Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, etc. teas plus lots of tea implements, pots, gaiwans, tetsubin, and other Asian related items. And they're really nice.
Fairly high-end. They offer tea-trips to China as well. And there's always the venerable http://www.tenren.com/.
hey I just started really liking tea so I'm starting with what I know!
I still get most of my tea from shops but I had excellent service from the Zhena's Gypsy Tea online store. Whole Foods no longer stocked their Red Lavender variety and I couldn't do without. Ten Ren is wonderful for their Green and Chai teas and their Chrysanthemum is my fav summer tea. I can still pick up my Taylors of Harrogate Scottish Breakfast Tea at Whole Foods but am considering buying it in bulk online :)
Oh, would anyone know where to find quality culinary lavender?? I love lavender but it's just about the only thing that helps my allergies.
The San Francisco Herb Company stocks lavender recommended for culinary use:
Their Lavender Ultra description says:
"Our Lavender Ultra is a rich, purple color and is suitable for fine culinary & craft uses. It is English lavender grown in France."
Ross and TJ Maxx have some good British tea as do Asian shops or import shops. Good brands include Taylors of Harrogate; Yorkshire Tea; Typhoo; PG Tips. I like black tea best. Of course grocery stores these days in the USA stock Twinings tea too which is a good brand.
Not sure how consistent their supply is, but our Wally World carries a nice variety of Celestial Seasonings and a few kinds of Tazo.
I bought a kilo of (2004) brick puehr on Ebay a couple of years ago; earlier than that I bought a couple of bricks (2003 and 2004) from the Tao of Tea, a local shop here in Portland on NE Belmont. And I like to cruise for bargains at Asian grocery stores. I got a couple of "cooked" tuochas at a local store for a couple of bucks each; I think they're about 100g in weight.
When I bought an IngenuiTea teapot and UtiliTea electric kettle from Adagio, four samples of teas came as well. The "Green Pekoe Blues" is the best green tea I've ever had; I'd like to find another source though since I consider Adagio to be costly (ditto Teavana and the Tao of Tea). I don't usually like to spend upwards of three to four dollars an ounce.
Would it be a possibility for you to grow your own lavender? It is a pretty hardy plant that doesn't seem to require too much attention. I've got some in the garden that I haven't used for food (other than snacking on the leaves occasionally) but I certainly could - I know it's edible and organic! Maybe I should take my own advice and try it!
I'm interested to note that no one has mentioned Republic of Tea - is there something bad about them I should know, or is it just that their tea is so shockingly expensive? I am a fan of the vanilla almond and ginger peach teas from there, but save my purchase for special occasions!
- is there something bad about them I should know, or is it just that their tea is so shockingly expensive?
Not at all, I drink lots of their teas - have a cuppa of the Wild Berry Plum Green Tea right now!
I enjoyed reading their books, too:
The Book of Tea and Herbs
The Republic of Tea: Letters to a Young Zentrepreneur
The site shows the shop, which is situated in the achingly accurately named 'Steep Hill' in Lincoln, but there's a good on-line service, too.
If you're looking for some very affordable but decent quality tea, Trader Joe's isn't bad.
I placed my order and about 2 hours later I got a call on my cell phone and it was Annie who wanted to apologize because one of the sale teas I had ordered was out of stock and she wanted to make a substitution so she did but it was a less expensive one so she threw in an extra container for free and chatted with me about how I found her and the teas I picked and asked if I wanted to get her e newsletter. It was such a surprising and pleasant experience. Oh and they show the best by dates on their website so you know the freshness of the tea which I also liked.
They also seem to have blooming teas and a whole range of pots and supplies.
Not only do they give you free postage if you sign up for their regular e-mail, but they will also send you two free samples with every order. Do try their Darjeeling and Assam blend. It's the smoothest drink I've ever had.
If they don't have the tea you want then you probably don't need it. LOL.
UPDATE - Tea Embassy closed their storefront and only sell mail order now. So now I have to pay shipping to buy tea from the tea company right here in town!
Mostly I buy my teas online from Adagio Teas, as mentioned in post #1. In addition to good quality teas of many different varieties, Adagio also has nice tea ware and other items appropriate for gift giving.
But other than that, I frequent/order from
Murchie's (Canadian tea store line)
The Urban Tea Merchant (shop that specializes in an imported French tea--The O Dor)
Tealicious Tea Company (another Canadian exclusive one)
Andrews and Dunham's Damn Fine Teas Series 3!
I have also picked up tea from Winners (A tea from a company called "Hazo") before.
There are also many more companies and shops I plan to order from/visit eventually, but have not yet. Sometimes I just pick up stuff from Superstore. Yogi and President's Choice, etc.
Am I alone in this?
If not M&S we buy Yorkshire Tea, especially the loose tea for hard water areas. (London has very hard water but that makes good strong tea)
We drink Earl Grey tea, thast comes in teabags and the most recent was bought from Traidcraft.
7 Cups - sevencups.com
both tea sources directly from china - experts in tea production and have relationships with tea masters from green tea, oolongs to pueh etc
Their country store has plenty of Harney and Sons in 4 oz. loose leaf tins and in ONE POUND bags as well!!! They also have available the tea book that H&S published too.
I was just reading this really interesting blog post (http://thenetworksense.com/2010/04/12/the-taobao-tea-trail-kickoff/) about a guy who is trying to try 100 different varieties of Chinese tea (1/week) by buying directly from local producers using the wildly popular Chinese version of Ebay: Taobao. It is harder, though not impossible, to buy things off of Taobao if you don't live in China and, as with many items, Taobao is a fantastic way (the best way?) to get cheap high quality goods from people all over China.
Right now my favorite place to buy tea is the large tea market near Zhongshan park in Shanghai. You can spend hours there (especially now when the new shipments of freshly picked green teas have arrived - dragon well being my favorite) the vendors are generally very nice and will pour you dozens of varieties of tea for free while you discuss the merits of each. It is a wonderfully leisurely way of buying tea and frankly you will be hard pressed to find people more interested and knowledgeable than a Chinese tea vendor.
Of course, when I am in Xishuangbanna (the most southern tip of Yunnan province near the borders of Burma, Laos and Vietnam) I like to visit a family that lives in a small village in the mountains. They are the wealthiest family of the village due to the fact that they produce the world's most coveted variety of tea: pu'er (普洱茶). The tea plants they harvest from are supposedly over 150 years old and grow on the rainforested hillsides. Every step of the process is done by hand, from the picking, drying and fermenting to the production of the compressed plates of pu'er tea leaves. Their tea is the best I have ever had (location probably played a part in that). Here's a picture (one of many): http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldcitizen/228096119/in/set-72157594226013960/
American Tea Room
Harney & Sons
I am also a fan of 52teas. I've ordered from China and I've ordered from France and Canada and the service has been speedier than some of my orders with companies in the USA.
I know they've been expanding in the US, so, perhaps, some of you can find out what they carry in your area.
Mostly because I buy tea by the pound from Amazon and have a reorder every few months :) But their Assam and Earl Grey are quite good.
Special teas are from Fortnum and Mason (their Smokey Earl Grey is my husband's favorite), acquired by badgering friends to bring them back for us on occasional trips to London. Luckily, we have an acquaintance tea lover headed there in September, who promises to have an empty suitcase...
Bad news for me. I was in my local tea shop (Tea Embassy) and they said they were closing the shop to sell online only. So now, to buy tea from the shop here in town, I have to go online and pay shipping. Arghh!
The clerk at the shop the last time I was in indicated not, but I don't consider that definitive. We'll see, I guess.
Wow, I had no idea they were closing their physical store. Guess I should have shopped there more often....
Yeah, that was my reaction, but I'm sure it would take more than 5 or 6 folks doubling their purchases to make a difference. It's a 1-1/2 hour round trip drive for me, so I only dropped in about three times a year, when in town for some other reason, and I would stock up on anything that I didn't have in surplus. I'll just have to treat the online site the same, and purchase enough to justify the shipping cost. Four ounces of tea would cost as much to ship as the tea, but four ounces of four different teas, and the shipping cost per tea drops to something tolerable.
A friend is also selling tea from a company called Steeped Teas, which does home and internet sales. Seems like typical pyramid marketing. The tea seems quite good but I can't buy any until I've cleared out my cupboard and they do seem to have far too many flavoured teas. I don't enjoy strong fruity flavours in tea.
I think their own blends are lovely, especially the River Shannon Breakfast and Russian Caravan, but the estate teas are a revelation. I especially love the Castleton and Makaibari first flush darjeelings.
For those looking for an alternative to a store like Teavana or Adagio that offers lots of blends, check out David's Tea (davidstea.com), from Canada. Absolutely delicious and high quality!
I hope someday I can get there in person but for now online will have to do.