Rob said

Tea question from a newbie

There is a chain of stores I believe are mostly found in malls, that I had been to several of here of late. The tea, I find, is very good and comperable in price to other tea shops. As someone new to the sport I have to ask if certain things are truthful or are they just trying to make a sale. I was told that tea needs to be confined away from light and air, which I can understand to some extent, but was led to believe this was an urgant issue that needed immediate action. Is this true? Of course they were out of their small canisters that would adequately hold the mere 2oz I purchased so they were more than happy to sell me the 8oz container…. Funny that none of their stores seem to have the smaller containers and I’ve viseted a few.. I’ve come to the. Conclusion that they either have a ordering issue or the have been trained to push the bigger sale. This is just one issue I have … Tea is great but the shopping experiance is less than desirable.

22 Replies

Teavana?

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Rob said

That’s funny!

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Rob said

Well I’m off to another state this weekend and they have a couple of stores where I’m going. I will test my therory and see if it’s outcome is the same.

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seule771 said

I do not frequent malls, too many phobias, I am sorry.

I did visit a Gourmet Tea shop at one of the plaza’s in the city after having attended an employment fair. I was surprised to have stumbled upon it and can’t recall if I made purchase or not. I am always amaze when I stumble on seeing the teas for real, since I only know them on line.

I may have mentioned this gourmet shop as a store visit some months back.

Not much help with this question.

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@Rob: Teavana is notorious for trying to up-sell their products and get people to buy more than they want/need. You do not have to buy a canister, you can store the tea that they sell you in the same pouch they put it in when they sell it to you, and they don’t charge for that packaging. They’re just looking to get more money out of you by trying to pressure you into buying a canister.

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DC said

Well, it’s true that tea leaves should be kept away from direct sunlight and heat. Generally they should be stored in airtight/opaque containers but from what you described, the tea retailer seems to have some other agenda on their mind.
You can just keep it in a Tupperware container or any other airtight container, especially since it is just 2 oz, you can easily finish it before heat and air destroy the taste.

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Jason admin said

Sounds like you visited a Teavana, which like others have noted, doesn’t always come with the best experience. The advice they gave towards storage is good advice, although I don’t think it’s as urgent as they probably make it out to be. Will that keep it from going bad? Yes. Will it ruin it immediately? Most likely not. But those are good practices, as well as keeping it dry.

If you want to start getting into tea more, you could signup for Steepster Select (http://member.ly/steepster-select) which is our monthly tea club designed to introduce people to new types of loose leaf tea (sorry to toot our own horn). You could also checkout Adagio Teas for a good variety of quality loose leaf tea – I think they’re a good starting point for lots of people. Or you could check out the “Teas” tab and go through the top rated, that’s always an option if you want to just start trying some really high quality tea. And all of these will probably be cheaper than Teavana. They definitely have some good/interesting flavored tea, but you can probably get better unflavored tea for a lot cheaper elsewhere.

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Camiah said

Teavana sells 2 oz containers? Not the one at my mall. Damn. Try David’s Teas—very good teas, good price, and excellent customer service. One of the reasons (other than the sales tactics) that I dislike Teavana is that they make a big deal about heat and light destroying the flavor and then sell them in those crappy bags, all to try and sell the tins. I prefer companies that actually package their tea appropriately.

Spot52 select said

Our store has some smaller canisters, but that is for their sets of tea. For those you have to buy the entire set. But yeah, their tea is low quality in comparison to the price.

Camiah said

I like their straight teas, but that may just be a matter of lack of experience with straight teas from other places. I’m definitely going to branch out, since $18 for 2 ounces of straight keemun seems like highway robbery, no matter how good it tastes. And yet I bought it. I’m so weak.

Uniquity said

I like that Davids Tea gives you the tin for free if you buy 100 g. I have dozens of tins at this point because of that practice and just keep re-using them. I want to try Upton for a variety of straight black teas and I highly recommend Verdant tea for straight teas. Not that it is the point of this thread : )

Spot52 select said

I am a Keemun junkie. Upton has a variety of them. I also like teaspring and silk road. Of course Keemun is a broad category. If you like Tevana’s, adagio is probably close.

Camiah: I am not keemun aficionado, but I do own a few: one from JingTeaShop (http://www.jingteashop.com/cat-jing-tea-shop-red-tea.cfm they are currently sold out of the one I have), and one from SevenCups (http://www.sevencups.com/tea_shop/Black_Tea/), and I really enjoy them both; many of the ones they sell are very reasonably priced, and way less than $9/ounce.

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I would like to rely an experience I had with Teavana to you all, and please bear in mind (I had to search the web to verify that it is spelled ‘bear,’ not ‘bare:’ funny, huh?!) that overall I am not impressed with their tea or their sales staff).

Recently, I happened to be at a mall with a Teavana. So, having read Rob’s post, I decided to test out his hypothesis, and a few other own my own (it was easy enough, and I consider myself a scientist and a philosopher, after all, seeking after the truth of things).

The data: it was Friday, December 23rd, around 11AM (since it was near the holiday many people whom were not in school or working were at the mall, so it was fairly busy—although that’s a judgement). There were two customers and two employees visible when I entered (the employees were helping the customers). I started ‘browsing’ and not long after one of the customers left; right away the employee helping the aforementioned customer approached me (which I judge is proper for good customer service). In response to the customary query (“Can I help you find anything?”) I directly asked her if they sell tins in two ounces sizes. She proceeded to tell me that they no longer sell them individually, but that they do sell them in some of their gift sets (some of which which happened to be displayed right next to where we were standing). I responded with some mild surprise, while taking a few moments to look at the tins (below I will mention the significance of my choice to introduce a lengthy pause in the conversation, but I can bet some of you can guess why), and she said nothing, while standing nearby, patiently smiling. I thanked her, and walked out.

My observations (Judgements or whatever you want to call them): Again, I am not a fan of Teavana largely because I judge many of their teas (not all, grant you) are overpriced, and I judge (based on my experience interfacing with over half a dozen employees, and from what I have heard) that most of them know very little about the big wide world of tea (although they do know their own product). And yet, I did not feel pressured at all to buy anything I didn’t ask about or want to buy (thus, the pause). AND, I felt the saleswoman was honest about their tins (although, I do wonder why they don’t sell them individually, anymore; yet, even of I asked her this question, she may not have been able to answer it, and I would not have faulted her for it).

So in my experience (with possibly one exception) after visiting at least the three different stores—one of which I visited on multiple occasions), on both busy and not so busy times, the employees of Teavana are reasonably honest with me, and they do not pressure me to buy anything I don’t want to buy.

At the moment, I am not certain as to the motivation for me putting this out here, but at the very least it is to acknowledge the positive I see in everything (I admit I tend to see Teavana as the big bad tea guy). Overall, my happiness is largely dependent on how I choose to see life; and I chose to see the good in Teavana.

Camiah said

I see your point here, but it has been my experience that the upselling starts with the purchase of tea—that is where the pressure to buy tins starts. And, truth told, the reason that the upselling gets to me so much is that it reveals my own vulnerability to being upsold. I’m easily upsold when I’m depressed, so it annoys the not-depressed me.

And I do see some good in Teavana—I got my Breville there, they got me started back into tea in a major way. I don’t deny the good. They’ve served their purpose for me, and I do appreciate it. But recognizing the good doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be called out on the bad. Maybe then they listen and learn and become less bad.

Camiah: I am honored by the honesty of your response.

I heartily agree that there is no harm in looking at what needs to be improved about Teavana. My response was largely motivated by what I judge to be my tendency to criticize, and to focus on the ‘bad’ in, others (and in myself).

I have another experience to share.

I just made a purchase today from my local Teavana. I bought one of the two ounce tins of the http://www.teavana.com/the-teas/green-teas/p/tai-ping-hou-kui-green-tea.

Here is a synopsis of my experience:

I walked in to the store just as it opened at 9AM. After briefly perusing their sale teas and not seeing it with all of the other sale teas, I asked about the Tai Ping Kui green tea. There were two sales associates, and we were the first customer of the day. When she showed me where the tea tins were, she said something to the effect of, “would you like two?” as she grabbed one and moved toward the register. I told her that I was just looking for now. When I started looking at the other tins nearby, she described one of them for me (another tin of tea on sale). Then I walked away and proceeded to look over every sale tea (and other items) in the store, shamelessly making comments to my wife, (like, “Wow, there certainly are a LOT of raisins in THIS flavored tea,” and on another tea,“Now this is a beautiful tea!”). I asked questions about the some of the teas, and although she was not able to answer many of them initially, she did make an effort to get me answers to most, if not all, of them (Making an effort to answer my questions is a big one for me: you don’t have to have the answers right off, but at least make an effort to get me one if you don’t know it. I worked as a trainer for a few years, and that was one of my goals: while I did what I could to know as much as I could about what I was teaching, I would also approach any questions I couldn’t answer right way with enthusiasm (that I would learn something myself), and then proceed to go to find the answer, and get back to them later if I didn’t have an immediate answer).

I left telling them I would be back. When I returned about 30-40 minutes later, I walked straight to the tea I wanted, took it to the the counter and said, “I would like one of these,” all the while looking her in the eye, and smiling. She asked if I was interested in one of the teas I was looking at and smelling earlier (a Yunnan golden black tea, which I had earlier asked many questions about). I said, “No, but thank you for asking.” ( I judge that is good customer service, as she demonstrated that she remembered a tea that I was clearly admiring earlier). The sale completed, I thanked her (and she me) and I left, feeling happy about a new tea, and not buying more that I needed (later telling myself, “I could buy a few more, because these would make great gifts …” but resisting the urge to buy anymore).

The only time I felt a little put-out is when she initially asked if I wanted to buy two (when she first showed me the tin), and assumed I wanted to buy it immediately without any time to think about it. Yet, this is about me (my fear I will be bullied into buying something without time to really consider what I am buying), as I judge there is nothing wrong with her actions, in retrospect.

I left a happy customer, still wondering why my experiences there seem to be so different than many others.

Camiah said

SimpliciTEA: I would suspect that your experiences of Teavana, if not influenced outright by the people working there, may be as much a result of your attitude on going in. I think you probably approach them with a better attitude than I do, for instance—being ready to be upsold puts me on edge, which impacts my interpretation of everything that happens. It might lead me to see an objectively inoffensive visit as negative. It is all confirmation bias. Add to that the fact that I don’t remember visits that are pleasant, only the ones that are unpleasant, and you have the perfect storm of confirmation bias. I think venues like Steepster increase this tendency and hardens the general view of Teavana as a bad consumer experience. People don’t go in with an open a mind as we think. I certainly don’t, no matter how much I’d like to imagine otherwise. It is quite possible that what I perceive as upselling of tins is what you would see as good customer service. Fascinating, the psychology of humans.

Camiah: Again, I am honored by your honesty.

I admit I will jump at any opportunity to go a little deeper with things. : )

You raise lots of good questions, and I judge you honor yourself (and me) by being aware of how your attitude when you go into the store may affect the outcome of your encounters with Teavana employees. As you alluded to above, I also personally believe attitude really can make a difference in our encounters with our fellow human beings. I have recently had a MAJOR attitude adjustment, so-to-speak, and have noticed that others around me seem to respond more positively to me than they used to (sometimes much more positively). I don’t think they changed (it would be an awful lot of people who would have had to all change at the same time—a silly notion in my judgement). I think I changed, and they are unconsciously (or consciously) responding to the change within me (which I call influence, as opposed to calling it control); of course, in turn, they may also choose to make changes in how they see the world, as others have influenced me, causing me to choose to change how I see the world (it’s all one big wonderful mixture of cause and effect, it seems to me; I guess it’s kind of like Karma).

Another thought about Teavana (which I believe has been brought up in at least one other thread): there are obviously lots of people out there who enjoy their tea, and are willing to pay for it, or they wouldn’t still be in business (let alone be the ‘Titan of Tea’ that they are, at least when it comes to $$$). Maybe the kind of people who frequent there are not largely represented out here on Steepster (or they don’t speak out, or they do and I haven’t been listening, or I haven’t run across their praise). Maybe they’re in the silent majority. I don’t know.

As it’s the end of the year it seems a fitting time to muse about these things here (even on a all-things-tea blog).

When it comes down to it, what do I know, and who cares anyway? Whatever the truth is, It’s all Good. Thank you for honoring me with your words (and inspiring me to go deeper). : – )

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ashmanra said

Funny, the salesman at Teavana last week was lamenting customers taking their tea home in bags and waiting until they arrived home to get it into their tins. They prefer that you bring a tin with you or purchase one there to carry the tea home in. I don’t think it would be good to leave your tea open to the air for long periods, but seriously, I think it will be okay until you get it home! I have tea that has been in double foil bags for months and it is okay, though I prefer my double lidded tins.

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