Where to start?
What would you say to someone who has never had tea but wanted try it? Where is a good place for someone interested in tea to start?
I think I’d try to send them to a brick-and mortar shop so they could get a more tactile sense of things. When I made the leap from occasionally getting a box at the grocery store (which I’m not dissing in any way, but there’s so much more out there) I think it was the visit to my local Teavana that really got me going.
(I’d also warn them that you can get a lot of similar things for better prices other places as well… ;) )
Seeing what’s out there, and seeing the vareity first hand as well as being able to smell and taste without having to spend a lot of money immediately – I think that would be really useful.
My two cents.
I agree with wombatgirl! Go to a good local tea shop and tell the person who is helping you what you told us :) They will let you sniff and taste and send you home with little samples for a dollar or so if they are worth their snuff! (If they aren’t…go elsewhere!).
If there are absolutely no tea shops around your area, Upton Tea Imports, Harney & Sons, Golden Moon, and I’m sure many others sell tiny sample packs that cost somewhere around a dollar each. Order some that appeal to you, and some that pique your interest, and taste one every day.
This place is also very helpful! Read people’s tea logs and put the teas that interest you in your shopping list for when you have a few extra bucks.
Good luck, and I hope this was helpful!
Is this for you? Your profile says you’re in Utah, and when I was there a few years ago I visited a cute tea shop near SLC, Protea Cottage. The tea was mostly Metropolitan Tea Company, but apparently that’s changed (and some of them have really good ratings, here, just not the ones I tried!).
The owner was a real sweetheart, and would probably be a good person to talk to.
Here’s the web site:
And here are the steepster ratings for MTC:
One word: Steepster. lol! In addition to that, I’d start them off by sponsering their interest w/ a one or 2 cup serving of each kind of unflavored tea: black, green, matcha, chai (black, white, and green based and enough to they can try them both plain and traditional), yellow, white, oolong, red and green rooibos, honeybush, yerba mate, and both raw and cooked pu erh. Use your own stash if possible to cut down on cost and so you aren’t stuck w/ lots of left over tea. I’d stay away from flavors until the person knows what kind of tea they like. Start w/ loose leaf and then work your way back. Get them paper filters so they have the bagged convenience w/o giving up on the loose quality. Then and only then introduce them to prebagged teas, both online and in store- both at a tea shop and at a grocery store. Teach them what to look for in prebagged teas. Tell them what is good and what to stay away from.
Then it’s time to take them to tea houses and tea shops. Nothing beats face to face, hands on education.
Make sure they have proper information on steeping (especially w/ pu erhs and so they aren’t told, for example, “all greens are created equal”). Literature in general is very important. Have them check out their local library for books on tea.
Once they know what they like, you can introduce them to the world of online tea shopping. Have them make an order from Lupicia to get the magazine and the free samples. Have them sign up to recieve catalogs from as many companies as possible, especially those like The Republic of Tea that gives free samples w/ them. Introduce them to companies like Adagio that have customer reward programs. Online newsletters also somtimes provide coupons/discounts- especially for your 1st order. If they like Japanese greens, you get a great sampler you get w/ your first purchase of $15.
Make sure they know about resteeping. A lot of even loose leaf drinkers look at you like you have 2 heads when you tell them about resteeping.
If they have an iphone, the iphone app from teavana looks cool!:)
Another note about Adagio, you can email them a coupon code for $5 off their 1st purchase.
If you are interested in ordering online there’s also Adagio Teas (http://adagio.com) they have very good sample sets. If you want to pick and choose they also have sample sized tins which makes a good 5 cups or so usually.
They also have Zack Luye doing a podcast reviewing their teas (http://www.vimeo.com/channels/adagio)
I believe the podcasts are just of custom blends?
The only thing about the sampler sets is they’re of one type of tea, not a mix. Once a person determines what types of teas they like, I think they’re a wonderful idea, but not for one that’s still trying to figure that out. The one sampler I would suggest for the newbie is the chai sampler- 3 black based chais (2 flavored), a green, and a rooibos. Once they know what they like I strongly suggest they get the corresponding sampler w/ an ingenuiTEA. And it comes w/ a really good book. Not to mention the frequent cup points to help pay for the habit and the custom blends!:)
From a frugality standpoint, I’d hit the grocery aisle for some decent, reasonably priced blacks and greens
- that way a beginner can figure out which direction his taste is heading without spending a ton on stuff he doesn’t care to drink. (Unless, of course, it’s a REALLY good friend that will share the leftovers with you!)
I understand the frugality, that’s why I suggested giving the person small amounts from your own tea stash. But stearing them toward grocery store teas 1st isn’t doing them a favor IMO. Loose is actually more economical because it’s higher quality and can stand up to more infusions. For example, one of my favorite teas is 49 cents per 1 steep serving. If I reinfuse, it drops down to 8.
Once the person starts getting into flavored teas and tea blending, they should check out www.designatea.com and www.customleaf.com. And a WONDERFUL gift would be a tea subscription from 52teas.com:) Monthly subscriptions are good, but who can resist having great tea arrive to your house every week?
Great responses, thank you all for the input!
whole foods has a pretty good tea isle they have ROT and mighty leaf ad they also carry a bunch of adagio’s teabags they have a ton more too so do look around but i do suggest whole foods if you want to try a grocery store type of thing :) you may pay a bit more but it is better tea
Remember when buying Adagio’s teas or teas from any other companies that have reward programs either at a grocery store or any brick and mortar building for that matter that you’ll miss out on the rewards. For me personally, comparing price plus factoring +/- shipping and +/- customer rewards is just way too complicated for me.
ill use mighty leaf as an example. when purchasing online u may be spending less but it does take an extremely long time for shipping if i want the free shipping offers and dont want to pay an arm and a leg for it. whole foods has a large variety of ML teas (more than my local grocery)
adagio does have the rewards prog but it takes a long time and alot of purchases to build up enough points to get the 10$ gift cert. granted if its the only company u buy from its much easier to do
also if it is his first time with tea loose leaf may be a bit overwhelming at first and it is easier to start with bagged (not the best tasting but it is easier) also when u get tea at Starbucks now it is whole leaf in the bags now they are trying to revamp tazo and faze out the “tea dust” bags…at least thats what the lady told me yesterday when i was despite for tea and was out lol
“adagio does have the rewards prog but it takes a long time and alot of purchases to build up enough points to get the 10$ gift cert. granted if its the only company u buy from its much easier to do” – Doesn’t take me long at all LOL:) But then again I use them for almost all of my tea gifts. Buying direct from the company or at a tea shop makes it a lot easier for returns vs. a groccery store. My tea shop has a wonderful return policy- If you bought a tea in the past 30 days and you return as little as 3/4 of it in the original bag you get a full store credit for the price of the tea.
“(not the best tasting but it is easier)”- Anyone can grab whatever from the grocery store. They don’t need us to help them w/ that. If you’re getting a person started on tea because either you care about them or because they ask for your advice, they deserve your best advice. Giving them less than that is short changing them and not being a very good friend. Start w/ the best quality and work your way down. I agree w/ the ease though, so introduce them to empty tea bags and filters like the ingenuiTEA that can go in the microwave. Bags aren’t really easier though, because they’re messy- give your friend a Roo (also called a “pouch”) mug so they have somewhere to keep their bag. The ingenuiTEA is less messy and makes additional infusions very easy- the only thing they need to be told is after the 1st infusion the water needs to be heated in a kettle or the cup they’re drinking out of and then poured over the leaves since the leaves are already in the bottom of the teapot.- I actually had a couple people ask if you just pour the water over the leaves, microwave to heat the water, then start the steeping time.
Steepster, The Tea Review Blog, Twitter, Facebook…
For starter loose leaf in person to ask questions…a local whole foods co-op or a home based business – there are some home based businesses focusing on tea now…can’t wait to try! Also…Adagio…good starters and samplers! Teavana if it’s a good one – by good I mean – customer service wise…some are some aren’t. Any local Tea Shop or House! Good luck!~
One thing about Tea Review Blog is that they never post reviews of things they don’t like so they’re not very unbiased. If it’s listed you know it’s somewhere between ok and AMAZING!, but if it isn’t there’s no way to tell if it’s horrible or just nobody has reviewed it.
So here’s a quick update to anyone who may be interested:
The best way I found to get into the tea world is to just jump in. I’ve been buying tea at stores, stopping by little tea shops, and ordering tea at any authentic restaurant I can.
Let me tell you: the results of trying tea as often and from as many sources as I can have been great. There’s so many teas that I’ve discovered that are absolutely gross, but even those teas I’m grateful for trying because they helped me get a grasp of what teas I do like.
I’m excited to keep trying new teas and I strongly suggest everyone does the same.
Summary: Just dive in if you don’t know what you’re doing. Try tea often and from every possible source you can get it from. Enjoy yourself, because that’s what it is all about.