Lupicia in Honolulu, HI
5/5
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Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

Great store, pretty big location compared to other Lupicias I’ve been to, which tend to be little corners.
They had the whole tea line up to smell and a crazy amount of teas in stock, including the exclusive Hawaii blends available only in Hawaii (with the occasional limited time sale online).

Staff was great, there was samples and they offered to steep up anything I wanted to try. Staff was also very prompt and helpful. The store wasn’t too crowded for it being a Saturday late afternoon.

Full review and photos of Lupicia Honolulu on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/lupicia-honolulu-oolong-owl-tea-review/

Bamboo Tea House in Claremont, California
4/5
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Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

I stopped by this small shop as I was in the area. I didn’t know what kind of tea shop it was, so I was happy to see it was a loose leaf and teaware kind of place!

Fantastic teaware and a fair price. I liked the selection: cast iron pots, english tea pots in great range of colours, yixing clay pots, lots of japanese style mugs, and tea steeper devices (balls, paper, gravity). Emphasis on LOTS of tea cups and muchs!
Everything is displayed in a clutter fashion, but it was like digging through treasure!
I scored a fantastic yixing pot (pictures of it on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/yixing-teapot-3/ ) and I could of gotten in much more trouble. Good range of prices, some comparable to purchasing online and some a touch higher but very acceptable.

For tea – they sold loose (in large canisters), prepackaged and boxed bags teas. I didn’t look much into the tea – the small shop was heavily incensed, so I was a fairly concerned if the tea soaked up the scent – my yixing is strongly scented like incense.
Tea range seemed mostly unflavored and some florals. Decent range of oolong, black, rooibos, mate and a couple pu’er.

There were other knicknacks, cute figurines, jewelry and such. Very nice shop – I’d come back for teaware for sure! Not much in gaiwans and tea mascots.

Lupicia - Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, California
4/5
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Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

I went on New Years day – which looked busy as they had happy bags onsale. There was 2 employees working there and they were pretty busy assisting other customers.

The shop seems more of a open booth with an island up front with teas (with a couple sample teas) and teaware, with also a wall of pullout drawers of other teas. Once I saw a little girl fooling around in the store, I noticed there was another layer pull out drawer of teas. Once I got a sales person to help me out – I asked if there was a specific green in stock, she said no, and briefly recommended me an unrelated seasonal black tea instead. I found out from there I can smell the tea tins in the drawers.

Once I decided I wanted to purchase, flagging a sales person was difficult. I figure it was busy and was okay to wait. Once I got someone, they got my teas (prepackaged in cupboards) and both sales people were attending to my sale – which seemed over the top for someone buying $40 worth of stuff. I was offered to sign up for the tea sample newsletter.

Overall, okay. They seemed pretty brief with me until I was obviously going to purchase something. I didn’t get upselled or anything. Their space is small, but used well – but when busy it’s hard to see all the teas.

Tea Desire - Lougheed Mall in Burnaby, British Columbia
2/5
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Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
2/5
and said Edit

I’ve gotten a few good teas at this Tea Desire and nice teaware like travel cups.

Since the minimum you can buy is 50g of loose tea, I was hesitant to buy various teas from them, whereas if I could buy like 20g I would purchase to try.

One male clerk there I found very knowledgeable and figured out my tastes and recommended a really good teas to me that I was willing to buy at 50g.

However a few times I was there, there was a female sales clerk who was pretty mean and pushy that I get large bags of tea. One time she insisted I needed to smell and purchase one specific tea, which I declined (as I knew I wouldn’t like it and it’s not what I was there for) and she got all “Whats wrong with you, who doesn’t like Irish cream tea?”

I complained once as I signed up for the newsletter and got an email about a sale – like % off all chocolate teas. No small print of tea quantity in the email. I go to the store and I’d find out the sale is for 100g or 1kg of tea. Not cool.

Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
3/5
and said Edit

Neat selection of teas and lots of blooming teas. Also selections of straight up ingredients (like rose buds) if you wanted to blend your own tea. Prices are pretty cheap for loose leaf teas.

Looking online, most of these teas are totally from Silver Leaf with same names and descriptions. That’s fine. I’ve gotten my favorite teas from here (Lovers Cup, Rooibos Paradise, a Matcha genmaicha) and the staff is friendly.

Cons:
The tea doesn’t come with steeping instructions, so I’ve often over-cooked my teas until I educated myself on typical water temperatures and times. Still with that said, you need to experiment with the steeping times.

When you buy a lot of tea (I’m talking a pound. Hey, it was my crazy husband who bought that much as a gift to me) they package it in a paper bag. I needed to get a tin for it as I noticed the tea was losing fragrance.

I got a white tea (Phoenix Eye) and an oolong tea (a Milk Oolong) that had no fragrance and tasted stale with no flavor. The white tea particularly tasted like nothing. I didn’t smell the tea before buying, if I did I would of noticed it was too old at that point.

Overall – great store to have in the Farmers Market. Great selection, however a few misses. Smell all your teas before buying.

Elise's Tea Room in Long Beach, California
4/5
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Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

My mother-in-law took me here for lunch.

Very very cute decor! The tea list was nice but more on the traditional side with less crazy blends (I like to venture into unique tea blend territory). I did get a mulberry black tea which was pretty good, good quality black tea and nice subtle sweetness of mulberries.

I ordered tea, lemon scone and sandwiches (creamcheese, black olive and apple pecan). The scone tasted fresh out of the oven and was really good – but was too lemony with the lemon curd, but was amazing with the devonshire cream HOLY COW! The sandwiches were all really good.

The servers were enthusiastic and very chatty with the customers.

Not perfect rating as it seemed expensive for me for the amount of food you get as it’s more of a light snack. But Elise’s is a great place to have some good tea, socialize and admire the atmosphere.

Davids Tea in Burnaby, BC
5/5
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Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

Great service – often the sales clerks would remember me after a visit or two and were very friendly. Not pushy at selling and happy to let me smell practically the whole wall of tea if I wanted. Did not get frustrated or annoyed when I’d purchase like 6 bags of tea that are only 20g.

When I’ve made big purchases (like teaware or multiple tins of tea) they gave me a free cup of tea to go or “free cup of tea” coupons that I’ve given to friends to introduce them to DavidsTea.

My only con I’d say is a few teas I’ve gotten would be not mixed well so I got too much of light ingredients or I just got mostly apple chunks. When I want to purchase 50g or 100g I go online and order instead.

Profile

Bio

I’m a crafty knitter and crocheter that loves to work on a project and drink tea. I worked as a counsellor and I chain-drink tea to keep me calm and grounded.

I’m a tea blogger – The Oolong Owl
www.OolongOwl.com – I do tea reviews, obsessively photograph teas with mischievous crocheted Owls and get tea drunk.

I was raised on floral oolongs and green teas, mostly “beauty” teas. Early on as a kid, I can guzzle an entire pot of tea (or two) at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant.
These days I like adventurous and interesting tea blends. I’m fearless in trying new teas! I’m into oolong, pu’erh, white, green, black, guayusa, mate and herbals. I’m not into red rooibos but I keep buying it anyway.

The tea brand that got me started into loose leaf teas was DAVIDsTea. I used to live in Vancouver Canada and had access to their shop, however that is now limited since I moved to southern California.

However, the perks of living in the US is ultra cheap, fast shipping! Since then, my tea stash insanely expanded.
My recommended tea shops:
Mandala Tea
Steep City Teas
Butiki Teas
DAVIDsTea
Della Terra Teas
Lupicia
Verdant Tea
Yunnan Sourcing
52 Teas / Zoomdweebies
Yunomi.us
Red Leaf Tea
New Mexico Tea Co
Bluebird Tea Co
The Persimmon Tree

Other stuff I’m into that sneaks into my tea notes: Brazilian jiu-jitsu, metal music, drawing, painting, cooking, photography and nail polish.

I have a husband and a bunny who both hate tea. More for me!!!! MUUAHAHAHAHAAA

Location

Long Beach, CA

Website

http://oolongowl.com/

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