Do Asian markets in the U.S. typically sell good Chinese tea? I’d like a nice loose leaf oolong and I’m wondering if one of these places might have something high quality?
From my experience it’s pretty hit or miss. I think if it’s an asian market in an actual asian community you have a better chance of good stuff.
I was actually going to ask the same thing! I was at my local Asian grocer and noticed two different 1lb bags of genmaicha for only $15. I have no idea how they would taste but I’m pretty tempted to just take the plunge.
An hour away from me I also noticed a store that had a pretty familiar looking brand of pu erh in small birds-nest forms. So that was also tempting for only $10. But I wasn’t sure if it was a good deal or not.
I don’t think we have much of an Asian community here, sadly. What I might do is ask the owner about their teas, and see how much they know. I feel like someone who is knowledgable about tea would be more likely to order higher quality tea for their store. I read that the market up the street gets all their produce and fish on Wednesdays, so I feel like there’s a good chance the owner might be there when I go tomorrow morning! We have a pretty great local tea place called the tea smith, but there’s an Asian market like 5 min. away from my house so it’d be super handy if I could find great tea that close by for when I need a quick fix. ;) haha
Let me know how those teas are if you decide to try them! If I could find a good $15/pound tea I would be in heaven. :)
Asian markets are great. But most Asian people who care about their tea source it elsewhere, so for the most part, you will rarely find good quality tea at a supermarket. Sometimes you’ll get mid-grade stuff in gift packaging (for example, the Ten Ren boxed teas with numbers on the front), but the quality and value are still not generally that great. I live in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County, which is probably the largest and most diverse Chinese enclave in the US. There are gazillions of Chinese and Vietnamese markets here (and some good Japanese and Korean markets in other areas of Southern California), but rarely, if ever, will you find anything beyond a mid-grade tea at any of them. Also, you generally won’t have an opportunity to sample it or ask questions, and there may not be much in the way of English labeling. So, even if there are some bargains to be found, it may be difficult to figure out which ones they are.
Sea Dyke brand oolongs are decent for the price, easily recognized, and can sometimes be found at supermarkets. The red tin tieguanyin is not fantastic, but it’s not at all horrible for $6/can; I think the yellow tin one is a little lower grade.
Chinese herb stores are more likely to have something decent.
Living in NY, we have a few Asian areas that I know sell great tea, but also sell not so great tea. It’s always a gameble no matter where you buy tea. Sometimes you can luck out at a local supermarket or a higher end gourmet shop. Sometimes you just have to venture the gamble & hope Lady Luck is on your side!
Asian markets tend to buy in bulk so what they end up with is not top of line. You pay for what you get; I do however, prefer to purchase tea and wares from a China town or market area since they are knowledgeable and the sourcing for it all. Also, I can’t always afford to pay top dollar since I have no income.
Hardly getting by, I am killing my marriage venturing this route. Actually I have been killing it since day one; I don’t contribute to it. Decent women give their husbands things…children and a home filled with joy and security.
I forgot the question…something about the market and I take it personally always. How dumb.
We have an Asian supermarket here in Atlanta called “Super H Mart”. They have about 20 ft of shelving devoted to tea, but most of it is labeled in Chinese or other Asian scripts. What English they might have is rarely helpful. I haven’t tried any of them since I have so much tea already that it’s outgrown the space to keep it in. But for future reference, are there any reputable brand names to look for?
Super H also has what I call the “Great Wall of Ramen”.