I like Zhi Tea and I want to love everything about it. It’s in an odd part of town for a tea shop; across from the train tracks, next door to a small convenience store and further down there are some apartments. It’s not a classy part of town at all, but it’s my part of town and I’m happy to see a tea room there. The shop is dark and cool like a cave during the summer, which is a nice break from the Texas heat, and dry and cozy during the winter.
Every time I have gone in I have been greeted by and waited on (but not at all pestered by) lovely counter staff. They have all been friendly, offered me a free cup of anything I’d like to try, educated me on the subject of tea and left me alone when I wanted to browse while still being available to answer any questions I might have. Perfect!
There are little sample sized tins of each tea in front of each tea so you can see and smell them. I really like being able to check out the teas by myself without a sales person hovering over me, but last time I was in there the samples smelled a bit weak and may have been due for a refreshing.
Teas are sold in a few sizes. Smallest are the sample bags so you can go on a get to know you date with their tea, next step up is a tin full if you want more commitment, THEN they have large bags for sale for when you decide you are deeply in love with a tea and want to get hitched.
The teas they make are all organic. They don’t discontinue teas unless they can’t source the ingredients anymore because they don’t want to disappoint any customers who love that tea (something I wish other companies would consider). They have little magnets that give the steeping time for different teas on it which is a great reference to have on your fridge. The tins they use are tall and oval which makes room for more teas in your cupboard. So many reasons to love them!
The location, the building, setup and the staff are all great. What I’m not crazy about is the tea. I want to LOVE the tea and I don’t. I want to support local businesses too. I have found a couple of teas I like, but most of it I’m just not into. I’m an added flavor kind of tea fan. I want my tea to remind me of cookies and cakes with coconut and almond slices with a hint of chocolate drizzled on top. I want dancing ponies and flying monkeys shooting off fireworks! I don’t want to taste the slight nuances of tea from one hill in China from the next. I think I would be head over heels for Zhi if I liked more traditional tea or subtle flavors, but that is not my taste.
So in summary, great place, awesome staff, wonderful ethics, variety in amounts of tea to purchase, but the tea itself doesn’t thrill me.