I like the idea of this place a lot — a place to get tea brewed right, pretty good pastries to accompany them, and a relaxed atmosphere for browsing a solid selection of tea. However, I have some issues with the execution.
Firstly, the tea is brewed right, but apart from that the employees didn’t seem very knowledgable. One of them was able to tell me what teas other people liked, but couldn’t describe the flavor of them herself. The other was purported to be an expert in the teas I was interested in but gave me no advice beyond “This is a good one because it’s cheap and not complex” and when I asked about a more premium variety simply said “Well, that one’s very pricey”. It seemed like the employees had never even tried the more premium teas in the store. Are they expected to pay for their own tea and thus don’t try the expensive ones? Or have they just not gotten around to it? Either way I was unimpressed.
Secondly, while the tea may be brewed right the price is a little steep. Over 3 dollars for one cup. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much better, but it was what happened next that really got me. Kindly, the employee let me know that I was welcome to a second steeping of the same leaves if I wanted. Perhaps naively I assumed it must be a free service to pour hot water over the exact same leaves, but it wasn’t until I got home that I realized I got charged the exact same price for a second steeping. $3+ for 16 oz of hot water. That’s ludicrous.
I will say however, that the browsing experience is great. They put all their teas out in little sample tins that you are free to open up and smell. And if you want to do all this without any employee assistance you are free to do so, which is an experience you could never get in a shop like Teavana (not to mention the wider variety, higher overall quality, and reasonable prices).
So in short, if you want a place to leisurely browse and smell a wide variety of good bulk teas, this is a great place to do so, but I wouldn’t go in for much more. And I really suggest they add more information to their tins – is it organic, fairtrade, country of origin, tea company, etc.