Overall Experience: POSITIVE
It was my first time buying from them (I ordered in March 2011).
Facts and Observations: An Arizona couple started the business in 2002.They have a brick and mortar store in at least two states (Arizona and Colorado). They have a wide selection of loose leaf Chinese tea in every class. They do not sell flavored tea, although they do sell scented teas. Many of their teas are organic. One of the owners (Austin) spends many months out of each year traveling in China. They have the most detailed and comprehensive descriptions of any tea that I have ever encountered on the web, including providing information on season and year of harvest, province and town/city of the tea garden, tea bush cultivated, picking standard, etc (one yellow tea has 1100 words in its description!). Every month they have specials on certain select teas (20% off), and they have a year-end 25% – 70% off section for older teas (some of these seem to sell out pretty fast, and others don’t). They sell tea by the gram: 25, 50, 100, 500 (unfortunately, it does not get much cheaper when buying larger amounts). They sell tea samplers. According to their website they: 1) source their teas directly from “the growers and tea masters who make them,” 2) are committed to Fair Trade and the Environment, 3) make ‘green’ choices. They offer annual trips to China in the spring. I believe they have some kind of rewards program. Besides tea, they sell a few Yixing teapots. In general, I find their teas to be expensive (when not on sale); they range in price from about $3/oz to as much as $33/oz or more.
My Experience: They processed my order quickly; it came two days after it was processed. Each tea was appropriately fresh and exactly as described on their website.
Their website is colorful, simple, elegant and pleasing to the eye (colors are used sparingly). It is easy to navigate. You have the ability to review the status of your order and other ongoing personal information through an account system if you register. They have a very comprehensive section on information about tea. They have a related blog. They have a few ‘videocasts.’ You can pay by credit card or with PayPal.
Facts: Shipping cost is dependent on destination location and weight. I don’t believe there are any ‘free shipping’ break points. You have the ability to track package online once it is in route. I believe they ship Fed. Ex. I am not sure of international shipping, but I would be surprised if they didn’t as they state that people all over the world buy their tea.
My Experience: I paid $5.45 for shipping to the Midwest for 450 grams of tea. I purchased five different teas. Everything in stock was delivered. Box was carefully packaged with the tea, some filler, and the invoice. No free samples were included.
I phoned them once and they were very personable and helpful. I have e-mailed them a couple of times and they have been reasonably responsive.
Fairly standard opaque silver vacuum-sealed zip locked bags. The ink on the labels is water based (It rubbed off when I tried to take it off to put on a jar).
Would I buy from them again?:
YES. I really like their overall approach to selling tea; they seem genuinely passionate about everything and anything to do with the noble leaf. And they seem very professional and take great care with everything they do. Unfortunately, I can only afford their tea if it is on sale, so I keep my eye on their sales.