Harney & Sons - online in Millerton, New York
4/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

Overall, I would say that my experience shopping online with Harney & Sons was a positive one. I like that I can order samples of most of their teas, and that the samples are reasonably priced. I received my tea order in a relatively short amount of time (I placed my order on the 10th of April and received MOST of my order on April 17) given that the package traveled from New York State to Washington State. I say “Most of My Order” because part of it appears to be on back order.

Up front, I’ll mention some cons: I’m disappointed that I wasn’t contacted about the back order, and that I had to find out about it on my packing list. I would like a little more attention to detail … again, it’s the little things. I like it when a company includes a free sample. My order wasn’t a large order, but, I seem to recall that in orders past, I received a free sample, and this time no free sample. I also would have liked a little thank you note enclosed with the order. Like I said, these are small things, but, I like it when a company takes time to focus on the details like a quick hand-written note or a free sample, it makes me feel like I’m important to the company. When a company gets as large as Harney & Son’s has become, I feel like the personal touch is lost somewhere along the way.

Now, for the pros: I am glad that they sent out the rest of my order instead of making me wait until the back ordered item was in stock. While I consider myself to be patient when it comes to waiting for tea, I am glad that rather than assuming that I’ll wait, they went ahead and fulfilled the rest of the order. However, had I been contacted, I would have told them that it would have been quite alright to hold the rest of the order until everything was in stock. But I am glad that since they did not choose to contact me that they went ahead and sent the rest of the order.

Of course, Harney teas are usually top-notch, so I’ve no complaint there! I look forward to trying these. And I will also update this review when I’ve received my back order to let you know how long it took to receive, and whether or not they did contact me at all about it.

UPDATE: I had meant to update this review when I received my back order – but I failed to do that … busy, or it slipped my mind… one or the other, or both.

Anyway, I received the back-ordered item within a week of receiving my first package from Harney, so, I would say that their back-order time frame was sufficient. I was quite pleased overall with the the speed in which I received both orders, in fact, I would have been satisfied to wait until the whole order could ship in one package, but then, I’m pretty patient when it comes to tea orders. I know that some are less patient than I am – and I suppose my patience comes from the fact that I once operated my own tea business so I know how hectic things can get.

All that being said, I find their speed at fulfilling orders to be very satisfactory, and of course, the teas are wonderful. I think if Harney started offering more personalized service (customer contact when there’s back orders, or a handwritten thank you included with an order) or included a free sample with their smaller sized orders, they would be in my top three companies.

Ovation Teas - Online in Federal Way, Washington
4/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

I just received my second order from Ovation Teas and overall, I’m impressed with this company. Their prices are fair, they do not overcharge for shipping (actually, this last time I ordered from them, they offered free shipping, and I like that price very much!) and the orders arrive in a timely manner … although, again, it doesn’t hardly seem fair for me to judge the shipping time since they are also in Washington State. But the processing time did not seem lengthy, given the fact that they are/were running their free-shipping promotion which means a higher volume of orders to get out the door.

Some of the pros: fair pricing on both the teas and the shipping rates, a nice selection of flavored teas as well as pure teas, and they also offer a custom flavored tea blend so that you can request the base flavored with up to 2 essences, and up to 4 additions added (such as fruit pieces, spices, nuts, petals, etc). I’ve utilized this service once and I was quite pleased with the outcome of my custom blend… and I probably will use it again at some point. Other pros include a fast processing time for orders, and the fact that they use Paypal (which may or may not be a plus depending upon whether or not you like this service, I happen to like it because I don’t have to dig out my credit card when I want to place an order).

Some of the cons: well, I almost feel kind of wrong to say that this is a con, but, no free sample is included with the order. I don’t wish to sound greedy or anything, however, I just feel … appreciated? … when I receive a free sample. I feel like I am getting a little something extra, like a little gift from the company. And I appreciate that. Also, there was no hand-written thank you, just the invoice/packing slip. I got what I paid for, and I got it in a timely manner, so overall it was a positive experience. I also would like if they offered sample sizes to purchase … I am glad that they have a small size of 2 ounces (rather than 4 ounces being the smallest size available), but, it would be nice to sample a tea before I buy.

An above average experience, and I’d probably buy from them again.

Inspired Leaf - Online in Bend, Oregon
5/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

I was absolutely shocked to find my package from Inspired Leaf in the mailbox this afternoon. Today is Saturday, and I placed this order late on Thursday night. I expected it sometime early next week, but certainly not today. When I noticed the return address and saw that Inspired Leaf is in Bend, Oregon, my shock was lessened somewhat (as I live only a few hours away), but, it is still rather impressive to have my order in less than 48 hours.

I ordered from this company because their blends sounded intriguing and they offer sample sizes for just $3 per sample. Alright, that’s not the cheapest sample price out there, but I like the fact that I have the option of purchasing a sample rather than a full ounce or more.

As I’ve already mentioned, the turnaround time is very fast. While I do only live a few hours away from this company, so the order arrived incredibly fast, it is still impressive when a company can get the order in the mailbox within 12 hours of placing the order. I know a few other companies that can do that, and I’m equally as impressed with them.

They offer very fair shipping prices with several options – you can choose from first class, priority mail or UPS – and I chose priority mail because I wasn’t aware that they were in Bend … if I had known, I’d probably have chosen first class. But priority mail was only about 20 cents more than first class… and I didn’t pay EXTRA for “handling” charges. I paid what it cost to ship the envelope!

More impressive – at least to me – is the fact that the customer service here is very good. I had a problem with the first paypal transaction (and let me say this wasn’t a problem concerning Inspired Leaf but Paypal), and I contacted them about it, and I heard back from them within a very short time frame. I’m not sure how long it was, because I was away from my computer for a bit, but, within a couple of hours at most. They were very friendly in the email, and they were able to offer a quick and easy solution to the problem. The second transaction went through with ease. Also in the same vein of customer service, enclosed with the teas was my invoice, and the owner – Cindi – scrawled a handwritten note on it. A small thing… but as I’ve said before, small things add up to a whole lot when it comes to where I choose to spend my tea dollars.

I am about to enjoy my first cup of tea from this company, so I haven’t yet tasted the tea… but that’s next. Watch for my tasting notes!

Is this a company I’d buy from again? Absolutely! I’m a fan!

Townshend's Tea - Online in Portland, Oregon
5/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

Townshend’s Tea is a tea shop that is like “starbucks” – but with tea. It has a very comfortable atmosphere, and I love going there whenever I can. But, unfortunately, I’m not able to go there as often as I like, so sometimes, I place an online order instead.

Because they are so close, I receive my orders from them in no time at all, so it’s probably not very fair to say that they have very prompt shipping. But I will say that the process orders rather quickly, within 24 hours! And having been a tea purveyor myself, I know how hard it can be to do that, so, kudos to them for being so quick.

Their prices are fair, and they have a really nice selection of delicious teas, and that is the reason for my perfect rating. That and the fact that I love this place, and they happen to carry two of my favorite teas – if you love chai, you must try their Alberta Street Chai (named after my favorite Street in Portland, which is also where Townshend’s Tea is located), and if you like pear teas, try their Pear and Pomegranate. Both of these teas are phenomenal. And… try their unsmoked Lapsang Souchong for a very interesting change-up from the heavily smoked version!

Still Water Tea - Online in Victoria, BC
3/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
3/5
and said Edit

OK… here I go again. Somehow my review was lost, so I will rewrite it. I want to disclose that I have not yet tried the tea that I received from Still Water, so this review is based only on my transaction experience.

I had placed an order with Still Water Tea because I had purchased the ethical deal offer for them. The website is easy to navigate, and it has big photos of the teas so you get a good idea of what your getting. The prices are reasonable, and the entire ordering process was simple from start to finish. I received my order in a timely fashion considering it was an international order: I placed the order on March 14, and received the package today, March 30. Not bad when you consider processing time and such.

But I did find it a little disconcerting that I received no contact from Still Water, with the exception of the order confirmation. No personal note of thanks and no shipping confirmation.

The tea is packaged in resealable pouches, and it was shipped in a padded envelope. Not the most ideal packaging when it comes to tea, but at least it was not an excessive use of packaging. Inside the package was also my invoice/packing slip but no note of thanks (unless you consider the printed message on the invoice). It would have taken only a few moments to write a quick “thank you and enjoy” on the invoice, and that would have felt a little more personal than the printed message.

Also, no free sample, or little “freebie” enclosure of any type. These are things that are not necessary or required, of course, but, they are little things that make the customer feel special, and make them want to shop with a company again.

So again, it feels as though I may be nit-picking on things, but, really, its these little things that make the difference between an exceptional experience with a company and a company when you feel like just another number. I shop not only in my quest to find high quality teas but also to find excellent customer service and I don’t feel like I found it here.

So, as I have not yet tried the teas, I have nothing BAD to say about Still Water Tea, but I don’t have anything GOOD to say either. I am ambivalent, as that is how I feel I was treated.

The Tea Spot - Online in Boulder, Colorado
5/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

I have ordered from the Tea Spot twice now, and both times, I’ve been very happy with my order and the service I received. The package was processed within 24 hours, and I received my order in less than a week. Of course, as I am on the west coast, a company in Colorado is much closer than one on the east coast, but, I do appreciate how quickly the order was processed.

The Tea Spot has many wonderful teas from which to choose, and they also include a free sample with orders and I requested a specific sample and that is the sample they sent. They have a very courteous customer service staff that responds quickly to email inquiries, and I appreciate that as well.

Really, I don’t think I could have been happier with a tea transaction. I received good tea that was delivered fast, and I was treated very well by the staff. Just what I want from a tea company … so YES I will be ordering from them again … and again!

BourgeaTEA in Anderson, Indiana
3/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
3/5
and said Edit

Overall, I would describe my experience shopping with BourgeaTEA as positive but I was a little dismayed by a few things, and I’ll go into more detail of these things in a moment. They are relatively unimportant in the “big picture” and didn’t really affect the quality of the tea – which is of primary importance – but they did affect my overall impression of the company and these relatively unimportant issues are the reason for my average rating for this company.

First of all, I appreciate it when I receive some sort of indication that my order has been received and is being processed. My preference is a quick, personal email to make me feel more like I’m dealing with a person rather than a robot, but, even the automated “order confirmation” is preferable to nothing. I received no emailed order confirmation of any kind, nor any kind of email when the order was shipped.

I placed an order for five or six samples (and I am pleased that I can order samples from this company), and this order arrived in a HUGE 9×9×9 box! This is not really a BIG deal or anything, but I do find it to be a little wasteful. The samples were packaged in zipper pouches (I did appreciate the resealable sample) and the tiny label was handwritten and it wasn’t easy to decipher the scrawling on the little, itty bitty label and I found this to be somewhat discerning… again, not a big deal, but, it just seemed a bit more like I was receiving a swap sample than a sample from a company.

The box contained only the samples I ordered, no free sample, no note of thanks, no packing slip or invoice. Just a bunch of kraft paper to cushion the empty space of the box, and my ordered samples. This was probably the most disappointing thing of all. I think that a little note of thanks, even if it’s written on the packing slip or invoice, is a very nice touch and it’s personally something that I appreciate.

As I said, overall, it was a positive experience, and the tea that I tried thus far was quite delicious. But, just a few little things would have made this a happier experience for me, and would have had me recommending them. As it is, I’m a little ambivalent, and I probably won’t order from them again because there are other companies out there that treat me better. With BourgeaTEA, I certainly got what I paid for, but, I didn’t get anything that made me want to shop again, whereas with other companies, it’s those little touches that keep me coming back for more.

Zen Tara Tea - Online in Bethesda, Maryland
4/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

I have wanted to try Zen Tara Teas for some time, so I finally broke down and ordered from them. I had ordered a couple of teas as well as their tea-infused chocolate truffles. Since I was ordering shortly after Valentine’s day, they were sold out of the chocolate truffles. The system still allowed me to order, and did not inform me that they were sold out of this product.

However, they were prompt with contacting me asking me how I wanted to proceed. They gave me several options including canceling the truffles and receiving a partial refund for them, or receiving two separate shipments: one with tea and the second one with the truffles when they came in.

Instead, I told them it was alright with me if they just held on to the order until the truffles would be back in stock, so long as it wouldn’t be too long (it took less than a week). After all, I have plenty of tea to keep me occupied, and I had waited this long to try their teas, I could wait a few more days.

Within a week, I had received the notification that the order had shipped (like I said, less than a week from the time I ordered until the order was fulfilled and shipped). Everything was packaged carefully. The packaging for Zen Tara is white Mylar-type stand-up pouches with resealable, zipper closures.

Zen Tara also includes a free sample of tea with every order, and I like that.

They were kind and prompt with their correspondence and shipped as soon as they possibly could. I am very happy with my experience with Zen Tara and I’d order from them again.

The reason I rated it 4 instead of 5 is this: The tea infused truffles, we are given a choice of the flavors we want. But there was no field to indicate which flavors we wanted so I had to write a separate email – not a big deal but, it was slightly less convenient. Also, I do think it would be helpful to the consumer if there was some way the website could inform the shopper of what truffles were sold out. I personally did not mind waiting the short time that I had to wait for the order to ship, but, I can’t speak for others.

Steven Smith Teamaker - Online in Portland, Oregon
5/5
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LiberTEAS rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

I have shopped both in-store and online with Steven Smith Teamaker, and all of my experiences with this purveyor have been exemplary. The staff is courteous and friendly, and the online orders are packaged and shipped very quickly. Of course, I usually receive my orders in record time because I’m only the next city over from Portland, but, they still manage to get each of my orders out to the shipper within 24 hours of placing the order, which is commendable.

The packaging is nothing all that different from packaging from some other companies, with one big difference that I don’t see with every other company: The date that the tea was packaged is on each of the mylar pouches. Freshness is not only assured, but visual evidence of the freshness is provided.

All of this wouldn’t add up to a whole lot if the tea wasn’t up to snuff … but this is STEVEN SMITH we’re talking about. Every tea I’ve tasted from Steven Smith has been worth every penny paid for it, and then some. Some of the very best teas available anywhere.

LiberTEAS rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

I love ordering from Andrews & Dunham. They have very distinctive packaging from the outer shipping box to the beautifully illustrated labels on the tins. With every order that I’ve placed with them (except for the last one – Thirsty Elf) there are little extras in the box. For example, with the Chinese New Year tea last year, they sent a fortune cookie. With the series five package, they sent temporary tattoos. It’s a fun experience to receive a package from them.

In addition, they ship VERY fast. With every order that I can recall, within 24 hours of placing the order, I’ve received a shipping notification from them complete with tracking information. I generally receive my order from Maryland arriving to Washington state within three days, at the very most, four.

If you’re thinking that the teas are a bit pricy from this company, trust me, the teas are well worth the price. I absolutely love everything about this company, with the possible exception that they don’t release new teas often enough!

Profile

Bio

I am obsessed with tea!

I am a co-founder of the SororiTEA Sisters:
http://sororiteasisters.com

I also review teas for the Tea Review Blog:
http://www.teareviewblog.com

In addition to my passion for tea, I am also a mixed media/altered arts artist. You can see some of my art here: http://eccentricpastiche.blogspot.com

I am also a self-proclaimed foodie. I review local restaurants and the food I buy online here: http://hungryinportland.wordpress.com

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My favorite teas are Yellow Teas with most Oolong teas at a close second. As far as “flavored” teas go, I love Earl Grey, Chocolate and Jasmine teas.

I also am intrigued by flavored teas with an unusual or unique flavor combination.

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I don’t do a whole lot of swaps anymore, however, I do occasionally sell sampler boxes here: http://liberteas.teatra.de/ I don’t always have sampler boxes available as it depends upon how much time I have as well as packaging supplies. I usually post at least one or two sampler boxes per month, though, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out or PM me and I’ll let you know when I have some posted.

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Most of the teas that I record in my notes here are going to have a fairly high rating from me. This is not because I am not discerning, but because I do not usually waste my time on drinking tea I do not care for, nor will I waste my time on writing about it.

Location

Vancouver, WA

Website

http://SororiTeaSisters.com

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