I have been to the tea lounge for my Birthday Lunch. It was cute, the service and food were very good. I also picked up a few things in the shop while I was there. They usually have two teas brewed up for sampling, and will brew up one at your request. Teas are available by the ounce packaged in a foil lined kraft paper zip pouch with a minimum of 2 ounces per tea. It is a great way to purchase tea for refilling tins, for sampling, or getting smaller amounts of those teas that are offered only by the pound loose on the website. They have an array of teaware and offer tins of sachets as well as loose leaf.
I have also ordered tea from the shop there by email and they have shipped it to me. As of July 2012 shipping runs $4.50 up to $25 purchased, $5.50 for $25-50, $6.50 up to $125, and orders ship free at over the $125 level (of course they may need to change this with rising shipping costs). My interactions with the shop on multiple occasions have been very positive and personal.
I have ordered from here about three times. The tea is good quality and well priced in the higher amounts. Amounts around 4 oz. seem pricey. The ship times are reasonable and they get the packages out fast. They run shipping specials and percentages off every now and then. They seem open for suggestion which is good, and they do answer emails quickly. All in all, a good place to buy quality tea. If they get the sample packaging worked out and add a little more origin information on the purchased teas, they would be worthy of 5 stars.
As of December of 2011, the sample packaging is a little cumbersome. The inner packages are small and stiff, and hard to measure out of. They have a cute little cardboard sleeve that goes over the sample (which I recycled immediately as they take up a good amount of space), and I think they need to stop trying to make a sample that fits in the sleeve. Please, send out a sample that fits the customer’s needs. The website suggests the samples have enough tea for 10-12 cups of tea, and for the fluffier teas it seems more like 2, for the black teas, maybe 6 or 7….remember, they have a space limitation with that cardboard piece. Either the website needs to reflect what is in the samples, or the samples need to be bigger to match what is actually on the website. Really, I think 6 cups worth is a good amount to really be able to tell if the tea will work for you. 2 cups worth is very skimpy when they claim to have sent me 10. I did get a good deal on my samples, but if I had paid the full price, I would have been extremely disappointed. I am still mildly so, because I did not get as good a deal as I thought.
Full size teas come in foil zip packages. I would be nice to have a little more information about when the tea was picked, so I have an idea of how long it will be good. There is very little information on each tea on the packaging. Just a type and the amount on a small white sticker.
Tea- 5 stars
Service and responsiveness to emails- 5 stars
Full size tea packaging- 4 stars
Sample packaging- 2 stars
Sample size amount compared to website claim-1 star
ETA: With their site relaunch in Feb. 2012, they have changed the amount of the ordered samples to be at least 14 grams or half an ounce. They have also contacted me asking how they can improve sample packaging. Wanting to improve and asking how is a great start.
In setting this up as a place, I did not realize how many reviews were on Yelp. It might be a good idea to check those out as well. I did see a pretty good photo of the general packaging there.
I have been a customer of this company for quite some time. I have to admit that I was initially a bit apprehensive because their website seems a little harder to use than some. However, once I started clicking around, it made sense and it works. Their offerings are extensive, and they offer samples of everything, the cost of which is dependent on the cost of the actual tea. Samples are packaged in a foil pouch without a seal, but they are big enough that you can easily fold them over and clip (paper clip, binder clip, chip clip, etc.) for later use. Their normal packaging is a heavy foil zipper pouch, but for around $2 to $3 (depending on the size) for most things you can choose to order your selection in a tin. The tins are a square based prism with a circular plug top. The labels are personalized with the name of your choice and the date of your order. They also offer the tins for sale as well as extra labels for those of you who buy in bulk and transfer to a smaller tin. There are also many other packaging options that you can purchase from bags to the smaller tins they use in samplers, and caddies. They also have quite a selection of teaware.
The hardest thing about shopping here is deciding what to try first. I have ordered many things from herbals and chais to Golden Monkey. My experience has been mostly with their Chinese Black teas, but there is something in every price range. Their Season’s Pick items are usually their bargain teas, but usually you do have to purchase a minimum of 250grams of them. I have heard their Indian teas are where they really shine, due to the huge range of offerings.
Their shipping is incredibly prompt. It takes one business day to go out. Their shipping is flat rate, but they do have more premium options. They don’t really make sense for me as I get my packages from them in Ohio in 2 days with their flat rate. I have ordered well over 10 times, and they are incredibly consistent. I have not seen any coupon codes or specials of that nature, but they do send an occasional free sample. Most of their samples are around a buck (except for the more premium teas), so it is nice that you can try exactly what you want for just a little money.
As for customer service, they answer their emails quickly. I did have an issue once where a tea bag clip I purchased was defective, but I had a replacement as quickly as the mail could get it to me. They also respond very quickly with answers to general questions and will make recommendations when looking for a certain flavor profile. They are very good about forewarning short shutdowns for certain holidays.
I have ordered from Ovation Teas a few times. The “Blend your Own” option is incredibly fun. If you know what you like, it is very easy to create a blend that exactly fits your taste, and your personally blended tea comes in roughly 4 oz. amounts. She also has several blends that are in her regular offerings. Minimum amount to order is 2 oz, but I do think she blends them as she gets orders in (I am agreeing with Dinosara on this one.) Her flavor blends are unique, the usual flavors often with a twist. She also offers premium unflavored teas, but I have not tried those.
As far as turnaround time, it is relatively short. It only takes a few days to get shipped out, and then it just depends on how far it has to go. I have always used a coupon code of some sort, usually for free shipping.
She is incredibly responsive if there is an issue. In my last order, there was a mistake on the tea base. I emailed last night and heard back within the hour. Since it was honeybush I ordered and I ended up with a rooibos, she requested that I test it to be sure, and if I needed her to reblend and send out a different one, she would. I have complete faith that she will handle this in a very professional manner and my reblend will be out to me in a few days. Let’s face it, we are all human and make mistakes. It is how one handles those mistakes that makes one an exceptional person. And it works that way in business, too!
The tea-4 stars
Pure Fun Factor-5 stars
I have to agree with other reviews, so I am just trying to add a few things that might not have been mentioned. I know everyone has posted about the great sample packaging…… Definitely a great selling point. Purchased teas come similarly packaged in a larger bag than the samples, and that is inside a sealed bag.
Other things I have not seen mentioned in reviews:
They are incredibly responsive in making suggestions for teas to try as well as being available to answer brewing questions.
Also, they want to ensure your package arrived safely. You cannot imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to receive an email from them shortly after my package arrived (yes, the wonders of package tracking….and they use it!) asking if everything was in good condition. Very good service!
I am certain I will be ordering again.
Edit to add: I did have a small order that was under $30 so I paid the cost for faster shipping since it was only a $2 difference ($5.90 for expedited, $3.90 for standard). My order got to Ohio in about a week. Wow! Also, I did not have to sign for the package to the relief of my mail carrier. She always tries to catch me at home for signing to save me a trip to the post.