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Anyanka said

What teas should I pick up at the international grocery store?

I love to cook and every other month or so I go to a huge international market (in the US). This particular one has primarily korean, chinese, japanese, thai, indian, mexican, and south american foods.

I’ve always used this market as a place to buy new or hard to find foods, but now that I’m drinking pots and pots of tea, I’m sure there are teas/tea varieties I should look out for. I’ve looked through many listings here on steepster but with so many teas and no idea what they’ll be named or what company might make them, my findings were unsuccessful. So far, I’ve only found a bagged jasmine green (by triple leaf tea) that a few reviewers gave high marks.

If any of you use your local international market as a tea source, what should I try to find? I’m looking for recommendations of either specific teas or general varieties. I’m not super picky, all I really dislike so far is rooibos/honeybush and bergamot, and I’m willing to try unusual things. I like corn tea, for example.

(Edited to bold my question which was lost amongst the rambling.)

26 Replies
momo said

There are a couple supermarkets like this in Atlanta and they’re the best for just picking something randomly. You’re more than likely not going to find a lot of things from there listed here on Steepster. It’s also hard to know what they’re going to have so just find something you think sounds interesting and buy it, it’s all about the surprise. If it’s predominantly Asian you’re probably not going to run into any of those things you dislike, my local giant one has a good Eastern European section too but even there I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that isn’t black tea.

Anyanka said

Thanks, that’s my general approach when shopping there for food. I’m really looking to see if anyone knows of a must-have tea or if there are tea varieties that are frequently good from these kinds of stores. There’s a huge aisle of tea and it’s a lot to take in.

momo said

My way with everything is what has a pretty package or name haha. On Chinese and Japanese greens though they are usually cheaper than anywhere else, just be sure to check the dates on stuff. There was some Gyokuro that was a month expired on one of my trips and I had really wanted it but the fact it was sitting around that long turned me off.

Anyanka said

Ha, yes, we’re also swayed by packaging and I go for funny names. I’ve found some of my favorite stuff that way. (And some awful stuff.)

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sandra said

Japanese green tea.
gunpowder tea

my chinese store has da hong pao, which I love, maybe you could get that there too.
I also get a rather nice Vietnamese green tea locally. it’s nice, maybe you could check that out too.
happy hunting!

Anyanka said

Thanks, this is a big help.

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Serenity said

A colleague from Mexico made me canela tea. I had never heard of it. It is a simple tisane of cinnamon sticks simmered in water until the water has the rich, spicy flavor of cinnamon. Sweetener added or not. So, perhaps you may stumble upon some bulk cinnamon sticks and if you love cinnamon, you may want to try this.
At a Japanese grocery store, my family enjoys getting matcha mochi. These are cookies made from pounded Japanese rice, flavored and colored green with matcha, and often have filling such a sweet bean paste.

Anyanka said

That’s an idea I never would have thought of, thank you.

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You can usually find a nice generic oolong, or flowering tea at those type of shops. If there are any local(ish) tea shops, you may find some of their tins on the shelf!
My least fave from the local international/organic/luxury food grocery is Metropolitan teas. They have some good ones but since they supply a good chunk of the looseleaf market, sometimes the quality really suffers. Of course, you probably wouldn’t know it was from there as they do mostly wholesale. Sometimes you will find their logo on the package though they also seem to have several versions. of the logo that is.
Oh and “Sanhe” is a big premium Chinese brand. Only ever had one tea from them but it was pretty good!

Anyanka said

Thanks for the tips, especially the one on who to avoid, that’s helpful.

I hope it helps, enjoy! :)

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Anyanka said

I was a bit overwhelmed at the tea selections, and pressed for time, so I only ended up with one real tea, a very cute tin of Chinese jasmine. I brewed a pot already per the brewing instructions and it was terrible, but I think it needs to steep for less time at a lower temperature. Even if it is undrinkable, the tin was worth the purchase.

I also got barley tea in bags and a sleepytime type of tisane with licorice root. I’m cuckoo for licorice.

They had tapioca pearls and I love bubble tea, so I picked some up. And, I’ve seen a lot of teas with rose in them, but been unsure if I’d like it, so I picked up a bag of rose petals for a dollar. I have some mediocre black teas that I mix with other things in a sort of ongoing experiment.

Thanks for all the advice, now if only I had followed it!

momo said

It’s impossible to go in a store like that and stick to anything, I swear!

It’s been awhile since I visited one of those shops, but my son & I were talking recently off the wonderful things we used to buy there. The one we like is the size of a regular grocery store. I think it’s time for an adventure!

gmathis said

OK, I need to know the cool STL grocery coordinates for our next trip! (I just do the happy dance getting to walk through Whole Foods and Dierberg’s when we’re up there!)

Well, first off, when you’re in town you need to come have tea with me!
Then, in Kirkwood the giant international store is called Global Foods. Admittedly, its been years since I shopped there, but they have an amazing array of stuff.

Anyanka said

momo, I got everything on my list, which was a major triumph. And then I got about 20 things that weren’t on it. Including indian tea cookies made to be just like well-known british ones. For 1/5 the price. And they’re good. But I’m trying to lose weight. :|

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For Chinese teas, if you see the brand “Sea Dyke”, usually it’s worth buying. I blogged about a few Sea Dyke teas before. All of them are sold cheaper in America/Canada than in China, if you can find them in a grocery.
http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/search?q=sea+dyke

Although they are not top quality, they have better quality/price ratio than a lot of other more expensive teas.

For puerh, if you see the brand “Golden Sail”, usually it’s well worth the price (and usually the price is below $3 and it’s better than a lot of “boutique” expensive shu puerh). A potential problem is you have to make sure they are dry enough (have not been stored in a basement and got flooded, which could happen for a grocery that sells a lot of vegetables).

Anyanka said

Thank you, I’ll note this for my next trip. Your blog has a lot of helpful advice, thanks for the link.

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Udyan Tea said

You should try some the special Darjeeling teas available at www.udyantea.com
I would recommend trying:
1. Rohini Emerald Green
2. Gopaldhara Peony Rosette
3. Rohini Silver Needles

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looseTman said

Anyanka, Excellent topic – Kudos! Many of us probably have a local international or Asian market and would appreciate having these recommendations.

Anyanka said

Thanks, I’m hoping to have something to contribute once I start buying teas in earnest at my local shops. I’m lucky to be in a very diverse area with a lot of international choices. But it means I eat too much.

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looseTman said

Any recommendations for other black teas (Assam, Keemun, Yunnan, etc.) at an international grocery store would also be appreciated.

yyz said

Lopchu estate Darjeeling, found in Blue and Pink boxes, is quite nice and is found many South Asian groceries around here when it isn’t sold out. I have also had nice Assam and Kenyan CTC’s though I haven’t tried any of the common Brand Names I usually find there. Most of the Polish Black Teas (Assams, and Yunnans) I have found are fairly nice or at least drinkable.

The only Black I tried at a Chinese Grocery Store was awful, but I am curious about trying the Keemum labelled (qimen black) from Qiandao Yuye because their Greens tend to offer good value and KS has positively reviewed a Puerh from them under the Brand Name Nannuoshan. Their oolong is awful though. The Brand Name is confusing I have also seen them labelled as Star Tea. This Blog often reviews teas that can be found at Chinese Grocery Stores though most of it is about Pu-erh and Oolongs. http://teapotnews.blogspot.ca/2012_04_01_archive.html.

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Rie said

You might be able to pick up some reasonably-priced Japanese teas from there. Grocery teas arsn’t going to be the very best, but there’s still great quality/value for everyday sencha, genmaicha, mugicha, etc. I like the Yamamotoyama brand for daily use.

+1 for the generic Chinese/Taiwanese oolongs; look for vacuum-sealed packaging, and/or tins, instead of boxed. Also, maybe try doing a rinse infusion on that Chinese jasmine you bought? I’m not sure if it’s an oolong, but it’s at least worth a try to try to salvage it.

You could also try looking for some Korean ‘teas’ – there’s corn tea (not sure if this is the same as what you like though!), honey ginger, citron, taro, etc. teas, which usually don’t have any actual tea leaf in them, but are worth trying too. These come in ground or whole form (for the grains) and jarred or dried form (for the fruits), for different levels of quality/convenience.

I’ve never tried a straight mate myself, but I’ve seen very compelling packages of yerba mate at South American stores, whole leaf and fresh-looking and all.

Happy shopping! Hope you can share more of your shopping experiences with us as well. :D

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