Your favorite online tea store to buy from and why?
What’s your favorite online tea store to buy from? My favorite so far is Adagio because while their teas aren’t the 100% best, I like the way that they communicate with you during the shipping process. I like to know where my orders are at all times and you get a little notification every time your tea passes a checkpoint. On top of that, it only takes me 3-4 days to get my order! I just recently bought my first order from Teavivre and while I’m reading impressive reviews about their teas (I’m waiting for their organic mao feng), I don’t like how I ordered it 5 days ago and I just got an update yesterday saying that it shipped.
So fellow Steepsters, what’s your favorite online tea store and why?
Boy, where to start with this one…
I’ve ordered a lot from Adagio, but have found the tea to be rather mediocre. I do like how quickly I can gain rewards from their rewards program. Plus, their site is very easy to navigate.
Verdant and Utopia have some of the best customer service and they answer emails quickly. Verdant is also running the 5 for 5 promotion right now which was a great inexpensive introduction to their teas.
Della Terra has probably some of my favorite teas, but the website design can be a bit annoying. They are really good about sending out an email when the status of your order changes.
Verdant, hands down, for all the reasons in the recent Verdant Admiration Club thread. Insane quality, some of the very best customer service experiences I’ve had with any company, tea or no, and a monster amount of knowledge and passion for tea behind the whole thing. I also think it’s so cool that the founder fell into tea by way of scholarly cultural pursuits, sort of like Rick Bayless’ Mexican-language-linguistics-to-chef turn. I love how culture and flavor are bound up and how some of the most passionate purveyors of good regionally specific food and drink find themselves there because of that connection.
Some close runners up:
Butiki is my favorite at magically evoking real, specific flavors (and customer service there is also top notch). I’m a newbie to green tea and have found Den’s Tea an ideal introduction; I thought I didn’t like the stuff for years and yet every single thing from them I’ve fallen in love with, and they make it so easy and affordable to get started. Upton will always have a special place in my heart because it was how I found my way to the world of loose leaf in the first place, and the encylopedic nature of their catalog combined with their “cheap sample size available for every tea” thing makes for a great start (it also helps that some of my favorite teas are darjeelings and Nepalese blacks, which they have a ton of at surprisingly good quality for price). Harney gets similar affection from me for the same reasons, and I’ve found Michael Harney’s book on tea super helpful, detailed and thorough without being dry or intimidating to a newbie. I don’t know what the heck their secret is but Andrews and Dunham’s black tea blends are just fantastic despite not providing any info upfront about sourcing or anything (such a mystery!). And for easy, don’t-think-too-much-about-it comforting dessert-y flavored teas and blends I personally prefer Della Terra over Adagio and David’s. I’m also routinely impressed with the freshness and quality of New Mexico Tea Company’s stuff, and their free shipping with no limit is certainly a bonus (and it might just be because of my relative proximity to NM but they ship in the blink of an eye for me too, always coming days and days before any other tea companies’ packages ordered at the same time—not bad considering the shipping’s free!).
Disclaimer: it seems in general I prefer relatively unsophisticated tea types—I love black tea, including flavored and blends when done well, especially stronger, less sophisticated/nuanced teas such as those from India and Nepal as opposed to Chinese teas, and am still not too crazy about oolongs and haven’t tried pu erhs. If I had more sophisticated, China-centered tastes I might go with Mandala and Teavivre, and the fact I don’t has more to do with personal flavor preference than any deficit in quality from said companies or similar ones.
I agree with all of this wholeheartedly! We must have very similar tastes. I’ve never tried Andrews and Dunham’s though
It’s a bummer ‘cause A&D is really pretty expensive (partly because you have to buy 4oz at a time and their packaging/design is clearly worth a pretty penny), very limited selection (I think currently they only have something like 4 teas!), and there’s virtually no information about the teas at all. Also they don’t offer free shipping unless they’re doing a once-in-a-blue-moon sale code or something. That’s a lot of things to overcome to be on a tops list! But yeah, the tea is really, really deliciously blended so I guess I overlook those things, ha.
I love knowing I’m not alone in my taste preferences, BTW. (: High five!
My favorite is Butiki Teas! :) The teas are so, so fantastic. I’ve never had a shop where I could feel so confident to just go ahead and toss things into the cart without too much consideration, because even if I discover something isn’t for me afterall, I can still appreciate that it’s a high quality tea, or a well-crafted blend depending on what it is. Whereas with some shops, it’s almost like “what is this swill?” haha.
Her customer service is top notch too. She allows you to choose samples, and drops you an email (none are automated) when your teas have been shipped. She gets to know you on a personal level and will often include samples of something she thinks you will like based on your teanotes or what you’ve purchased.
Verdant Teas is quickly becoming a second favorite too. Their teas are also wonderful, and you can just tell that they’re truly passionate about tea, unlike the big corporations that don’t care about the tea at all and only want to part you from your money. (Obviously Verdant wants to make money too, but you can tell that they actually love tea too) and I love knowing that my purchases are helping small family farms stay alive in a world where almost everything is mass produced by faceless corporations.
Those are my favorites. :)
I live in Canada so there is no point in getting fussed about shipping. Everything takes a long time to get here, even when you pay the big bucks. My favourite would be Teavivre for the quality of their teas and the relatively low price you pay for them. I find their customer service to be very good and their tea tasting program is great to help people get a taste for what teas they like.
Next up would be Verdant, who always have excellent teas but those teas tend to cost a lot more than I am willing or able to pay. I splurge and treat myself to some Verdant once every year or two, but I need every day teas.
I have tried a couple others, but was either disappointed with shipping/customer service (Harney’s, Adagio) or their teas (52Teas, Della Terra). I buy Davids Tea in store a lot but I find their teas miss a lot for me lately. I prefer unflavoured Chinese blacks. Maybe I will give Butiki a go sometime in the future.
One thing that’s fabulous about Butiki is that they have tea for every budget. There are some more pricey ones (Mi Xian Black. But it’s so so so good weep) but then there are some like the Organic Guranse that is a very good tasting tea that’s very inexpensive.
Whereas with Verdant, the most inexpensive tea there is $7 something/ounce.
My favorites are Yunnan Sourcing and Mountain Tea, mostly for good price/quality ratio. Both have fairly low prices and quality on par with more expensive teas. Neither has free shipping, but Mountain Tea ships very fast, and Yunnan Sourcing is always well packed.
Teavivre and Mandala are runners up with good quality and broader selections :)
whimper…. Yunnan Sourcing is way up my list of companies I would love to try. I feel that I don’t know enough about pu’erh to make an educated purchase. Last time I looked they had over 1000 pu’erh. How do you choose? One day I am just going to do it.
In the meantime my favorite online source is Mandala. Awesome customer service, great teas, fair shipping. I haven’t really had a problem with any online tea company, but Mandala stands out as my favorite.
Haha, I know what you mean! Most of my orders were from the .us site (cheaper shipping for me, not sure about Canada though), which doesn’t have quite as huge a selection.
I’m fairly new too, so I usually find teas that interest me and are in my price range and then search for reviews on them.
Menghai shu is pretty reliable, and the YS brand shengs I’ve tried have been great (and I’ve only gotten the cheaper ones). Their black and green teas I’ve tried have also been really nice.
I’ve ordered from Mandala before too, great customer service!
I second Yunnan Sourcing’s packaging of greatness. I swear they used an entire roll of tape on my order!
Verdant and Butiki have both been wonderful to order from. Both are wonderful about communicating with customers and the teas are excellent. Verdant has a reward program, which I so go for. If you have not already, try their 5 for $5! :)
So far, I’ve had good experiences with every company I’ve ordered from. This is mostly due to the fact that I got on Steepster and read about where the more experienced tea drinkers were getting their teas. Butiki and Verdant really stuck out and after ordering from them and seeing the personal touches they put in I can definitely see why! The teas are also amazing!
Joy’s Teaspoon also had great customer service and a handwritten note although I didn’t enjoy the teas as much, but that’s probably my personal taste. Della Terra was also really quick and I’ve enjoyed trying their many flavors. Just now ordering from Teavivre and so far so good. They have kept me up to date with every step. I’ve felt very good about all my tea ordering so far!
I’d say my top favorites are:
Steep City Teas
Those 3 have really personable customer service and amazing high quality tea. I love the love put into their products and service. Friendly notes on my order form, or even a small write up about each tea I got (and reference to previous teas I’ve purchased!)
All three of those companies I’ve gotten my orders very quick as they ship out that day or the next.
Fast shipping, Dens and The Persimmon Tree.. though they both are located very close to me, so I wait a day or two at most!
Upton Teas in MA, Verdant Teas, Tea Trekker (btw they also wrote two of the best books on teas for the english speaking community) in MA, and Tao Tea Leaf in Toronto. I have ordered from all of them. No problems, no delays, and in the end great teas. The owner of these companies really know their teas.