Shopping for Teas online
Seems I completely missed this thread for the longest time. Just read through all the comments.
Answering the OP’s question. I started my tea journey a few months ago and started with Adagio. The sampler packs were great. They introduced me to different varieties of tea. Two months ago I didn’t know there were different types of green or black tea. I mean I’ve always known there were different flavors, but I didn’t know they were actually leaves from a different region. Adagio was a great starting point for me. So I would say if a company offers samplers I’m in. Secondly, their website has to be easy to browse. Adagio’s makes browsing for tea very pleasant. Harney & Son’s website on the other hand isn’t as friendly. I mean there are hundreds of tea, I want to be able to get a quick ingredients summary / the pricing (hint hint 52teas).
After getting a few of what different types of teas tasted like, I was able to narrow down my tea preference and I looked into companies that specialized in that selection. I also continued to explore other tea companies and mainly purchasing items depending on promotions and sales.
Tea Company Reviews / Experiences (Shipping to NYC)
Adagio – I’ve gotten all my purchases the very next day. It’s sent via UPS. I sent a gift to a friend in California and it was received the next day. Their customer service, at least for me, has been great. I love their promotions (free samplers, free shipping). They also offer a 10% reward point system.
Rating: =D 5/5
Rishi – I placed my order on a weekend and they didn’t process my order until 3 days later (this was stated when I placed my order). Seeing as I live in NYC, I didn’t receive my package until the following Monday. They sent this via UPS. A few days later, a hand signed postcard arrived with a 20% discount code. They were offering an online promotion of 25% o.O. Anyways, my biggest issue with Rishi is the shipping cost. I ended up paying ~$8 for shipping on an order about $20. Until they offer lower shipping fees or free shipping I am avoiding them. I realized they are sold in stores such as Whole Foods at a similar / lower price.
Rating: =/ 3.5/5
Golden Moon – Teaplz introduced this company to me and practically most of Steepster. Well I’m glad she did because they have some great tea. If I didn’t purchase the sampler from them I would still be drinking Adagio. It was only when I started drinking tea from this sampler did I realize the differences in tea leaves. Golden Moon shipped the package out the very next business day and they offer free shipping with promo code (teareviewblog). They ship via UPS and I received it within three days.
Rating: =D 5/5
Den’s Tea – Three dollars for a sampler, how could I resist? They give you a coupon code that lets you redeem that $3 on your first purchase. I was shocked to see that they used the $3 to ship the package using USPS Priority Mail. I thought they were just going to ship it using First Class. That showed me they cared about the customers.
Rating: =D 5/5
Andrews & Dunham – What can I say, some damn fine tea. I’ve only tried Series one and I have to say the leaves are of a higher grade for sure, but it’s nothing exceptional. Shipping charges was $5 and it was sent via USPS priority mail. I received it in three days.
Rating: =) 4.5/5
Harney & Sons – I love the fact that they have $2 samplers of almost every tea in their inventory. You can get a $2 sampler of their $40/tin tea. That being said it also costs you $2 to purchase a sampler for a tin of their $6 tea. Is it worth it? I guess that would be up to you to decide. I wasn’t thrilled about their tea browsing experience. You had to click on a type, then subcategories, click on the tea. If you wanted to add an item into the cart, it would redirect you to another page. Rinse and repeat, yeah it was annoying. They also oversell, which is a thing that annoys me about companies. Basically they claimed to have something in stock and ended up not having it so they processed the order, took out the item and didn’t even inform me. I was counting the tea samplers when they arrived and looked at my order confirmation / order processed email and realized they secretly took out one of my teas .. The tea was shipped via UPS (received in 2 days), but it took three days to process the order.
Rating: =/ 4/5
Lupicia – Placed an order didn’t receive it yet. They ship with Fedex and shipping to NYC is 6 days. It took them three days to process the order. If you order $30 or more they will send you a free tea sampler every month for a year. After attempting to browse tea on their site for a few minutes I gave up.
Rating: =/ 4/5
Kusmi – My friend ordered me this so I don’t know the exact details. Looking back at our emails, it seems the total time was about five days. They came with two muslin tea bag samplers.
Rating: =) 4/5
Samovar – Their site is very easy to navigate as you can just click list all teas and they have a picture / description of each tea along with the pricing. They ship from Nevada so it takes about six days to get to NYC. They take about a day to process the order. Seems they ship via USPS or FedEx depending upon how large the order is. Samplers are in little paper bags with great instructions. Small tins are copper tins and large ones are large ones with a second lid inside it.
52teas- Shipping is via USPS first class, I haven’t really had any problems with them. The tea comes when it does. It usually takes about a week and they place the tea into white manilla envelopes.
Well that’s about it for the companies I’ve tried so far. I suppose I should keep expanding this list as I order from more companies. I mean I started it anyways, so I might as well continue it. Anyways, if I didn’t state processing time, it is implied that they processed the order the very next business day. Processing time / transit time refers to business days, not weekends.
@Ricky… Ah crap Now I’m really regretting not getting Lupicia’s happy bag! Did you cave?
Whee! Happy I was able to help guide you on your journey to tea! I’m still getting lots of mileage out of the GM sampler, and still have a lot to try! Whee! YAY FOR GOOD TEA!
And I have to give a shout out to Carolyn for writing about GM before I made any purchases from them!
ive only ordered through 4 companys so far so im copying Ricky and giving my down n dirty lol
Adagio – ive been ordering from them for about 2 years now and have had no problem thankfully. they ship UPS (they are the ones who i have a problem with) if i place my order before 3pm i get it the next day :) my sister got me a few samples and a 4ox tin of Ceylon Sonata for christmas and they failed to tell her that only 1 sample will arrive b4 christmas and the rest after.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
GoldenMoon teas – i ordered a bunch of samples (there only 0.99$) on a friday night and recieved it in the mail USPS on tuesday because i havent ordered alot from them yet i cannot give an amazing rating their website is very easy to navigate.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars (only placed one order)
SpecialTeas – the day i received the email my package was sent i got the package THAT DAY! that may also have to do with they are located in the same state :p but their communication was good but their website is kinda funky so it threw me off a bit and took me a while to find what i was looking for
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (only placed one order)
Mighty Leaf – i placed my order on the jan 4th and on the 6th i got an email stating that my order is being shipped UPS…well my estimated deliver day is jan 13th! thats VERY long! their website was really easy to navigate so i enjoyed that… if only they had the teas i ordered at my grocery store this LONG shipping could have been avoided.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (only placed one order)
samplers help alot in deciding what you like and getting to try new things :) both adagio and mighty leaf have rewards programs
Thanks Kitch3ntools! Seems SpecialTeas would probably get to me in a day as well. I do hate companies that slack on the tracking #. Sometimes my carriers get lazy and if no one is around they’ll drop it off at some neighboring business. No tracking # means I don’t get told the package was delivered and business are too busy to track me down to return my packages. I think this is how I’ve lost two packages in the past.
well UPS’s new thing is that my house number no longer exists so i got my package a day later than expected. ive been living here for 3 1/2 years and UPS has delivered to my house with no problem a bunch of times. they have delivered one of my packages to house #30 once where im house #20…i dont even want to get started on the USPS we have had issues with them the day we moved in here! (packages left on our porch in the rain or snow not under our little anti rain thinger/hood, our mailboz left open while it was raining so it filled up with water, the list gos on) thats unfortunate that they become so lazy that they didnt give you the package
Kitch3ntools – you should be able to talk to someone at UPS about that. If they have your address messed up in the system they can do a manual override and fix it. I’ll ask my husband what they call it. In our area, UPS will really go above and beyond to service the customer – if you give them a chance.
it was the first time it has happened with the “A CORRECT STREET NUMBER IS NEEDED FOR DELIVERY.” and when the package came in it had written on the address label “good address” it was weird but didnt bug me too much. its the postal service that keeps screwing up. ive gone to our PO and talked to them about it b4 about 3 times so this last time i sent in a formal complaint online and they made up some excuse that i knew was a lie (my fiancee’s mail is getting delivered nextdoor even though it has OUR address on all his mail and the mail lady and i had a convo about his packages he was sending me while he was deployed in iraq) for about a month everything was good then they started being lazy again and doing half his mail here and half nextdoor
I think the issue is your regular delivery guy changes and the substitute doesn’t know what to do. My UPS guy is amazing, he’s been delivering to my address for the last ten years so he knows how to get to my rear entrance. He signs for my packages / leaves it by the door, which is fine because I have a fenced backyard at the rear entrance.
VERY cool! i dont know if i have a regular lol i dont get ups packages enough to know. but our “regular” guy for nextdoor will bring the packages in to their screened in porch and leave it on their table in there for them even when their dog is out there (the dog is extremely friendly and old so he doesnt mind visitors) thats gotta be an interesting job working for UPS
Sure, I’ll play. Here’s who I’ve ordered from online (I’m in Maryland):
EXTREMELY fast (arrived on my doorstep the day after I placed the order). I’ve also talked to the online help and found them to be very helpful. I don’t like that I can’t find their ingredients (either online or on the teas themselves).
Rating. 4 of 5
Impressed with the fast shipping speed. I’ve only ordered the sampler package, so haven’t really navigated their website yet.
Rating 5 of 5.
Harney & Sons
The website is a PitA to navigate, and it’s been so long since I’ve ordered from them that I don’t remember shipping times and such. I’ll have to update this after I place another order.
I wish there was more detail on their teas on their website. Shipping does take a few days, but they’re a west coast company so that’s expected. The newsletter with a free sample is a cute touch.
Rating: 4 of 5
I found their shipping costs in line with the purchases that I made ($10 for $70 worth of stuff – tea and teaware). Shipping did take awhile, but they’re west coast. Website navigation was easy.
Rating: 5 of 5
Shipping was really fast (I think she’s based in Raleigh). The website is annoying, though. I keep forgetting about the categories to the left for some reason. She offers something similar to Amazon Prime ($70 for a year of free shipping and 10% off every order), but I just can’t imagine that it’s worth it. She has the BEST hot cocoa though.
Rating: 4 of 5
Another west coast company, but it seemed like shipping took longer than normal even for west coast. A lot of annoying upsells throughout the process.
Rating: 3 of 5
I haven’t orderd from that many different companies, but here’s mine:
Adagio: The only company I’d orderd from til a few months ago. Pretty good. Free shipping w/ a $50 order, save 10% on duplicate orders. Point systems. Email/twitter coupon codes, custom blends, occasional freebies. Some of my beefs: Delay of product introduction: They’ve been promising us tea chocolates and cookies since before Aug. of last year and they still aren’t here. But that doesn’t stop them from coming out w/ other products. I mean come on, who needs to buy honey from Adagio? Delay in shipping: A while ago I had sent a gift to someone in Washington State and instead of being shipped from their CA warehouse, it was sent from NJ so it took over a week. A Christmas gift that I scheduled for delivery on 12/24 was delayed til the 29th.
Den’s Teas: Ditto on Ricky’s comments. I also LOVE their suggested steeping parameters sheet.
52teas: Fairly good prices on most of their teas, especially they add ingredients in addition to tea. AMAZING price on matcha! Free shipping. Definitely about a 1,000 brownie points for creativity w/ that and all their other teas. That being said, it did take 15 days for me to get my order (albeit right before Christmas). Even for this time of year I think that’s a little less than excusable, but I can’t wait to give their shipping time another chance. The only thing I don’t like about them (that isn’t excusable like insane weather delays) is they aren’t careful about their suggested preparations. They say to steep (which implies decantation) matcha for 2-3 min, but anyone who knows anything about matcha knows you don’t steep matcha. I know these guys know their tea, but that really shoots their credibility in the matcha bowl.
Rishi: LOVED their daily sales. I ended up getting their Kukicha green tea for 62.5% off! That being said, I only bought that one item so my shipping was ~167% the cost of my purchase! I live an hr and a half from their warehouse. I placed my order on 12/30 and the scheduled delivery date wasn’t til the 4th! But it wasn’t here. It didn’t get here til yesterday. (the 7th). I’m sorry, but when I live 90 min from them and pay $8 to ship a 500g item I expect them to jump in their car and personally deliver it to me as soon as it’s assembled. KIDDING! Really kidding lol. But I mean come on.
It’s much easier to resell a product from another manufacturer (Adagio’s honey is from the Savannah Bee Company) than to come up with an entirely new product. Give them a break!
I understand that, but they should get their ducks in a row before publicizing a date of availability. They will now supposedly be here in April. 9 months is absolutely crazy in my book.
oo i got from 52teas aswell i forgot to add them! i placed my order the day the heath bar tea was a steepster select and i got it in the day after you get your matcha in. ill give them some slack because it was crazy holiday time
@Kitchn3ntools, definitely. But I still think 15 days is beyond slack. But I can’t wait to give them a 2nd chance:)
@cofftea, me too :D they have the coolest blends! and some day ill win their email question contest lol
I am sorry about some recent delays we’ve had. We’re NOT normally that slow, but we had some compounding problems with a nasty winter storm, running out of ink for our label printer (curse my little bubble-headed 19 year old assistant!), and a sizeable increase in our holiday orders. I am not trying to give excuses, but there were a few things going on all at once for a bit there.
I should also point out that shipping is FREE to the US and Canada and pretty cheap to overseas. It is not, however, as fast as it might be if we used another carrier and charged our customers. We use USPS First Class and First Class International mail. I feel like it’s worth waiting an extra day or two to save our customers’ money. (We would rather you had it to spend on more tea than have you spend it with the shipping companies.)
@52teas. Oh I understand, that’s why I said I’m really excited to give you a 2nd shot. Most companies I wouldn’t be nearly as excited. I think personally it was also made worse because I was anticipating my mandarin matcha=D. If you’re looking to replace that bubble headed assistant, I know of a woman that would be VERY eager to apply:)
I mean if they took a break from Dec 24th until the Jan 1st, then the fifteen days make sense.
Ricky, no they had a lot of snow I guess. But to me a company taking off the entire week would be a customer service prob for me.
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This can be true of brick and mortar shops as well, but packaging is a factor. I don’t like it when a tea comes packaged in a way that I have to put it in something else to preserve it (i.e. a plastic bag that lets light thru). It may be ok during shipping, but it is not my job as the consumer to put it in a different container so it can stay preserved til I enjoy it. Alternatively, while tins and other containers can be very pretty, they bump up shipping cost and take up a lot of cupboard space. I’d rather a company concentrate on making sure the tea leaves won’t be damaged by light or by crushing 1st and let me worry about the visual appeal. Containers, like any art, are personal taste anyway. Or at least give your customer the option of less expensive packaging.
Reading that makes me curious if you repackage our teas. I really like our stand up pouches: the fact that they are resealable and don’t take up much space, but I hadn’t really thought about the light issue. I like that one side of the pouch is clear so you can see the tea, but we could get pouches that are not clear too. Just curious.
No, I don’t. I should, but I don’t. Yours are the only ones I’ve come across w/ that problem. Opaque pouches would be great! Right now I just have them in a cupboard. Right now I don’t really have anything to repackage them in. I’m a bad judge of size and probably would end up buying containers too small or too big lol. I’ll repackage my ground hog day order, when I finally get it lol.
Not sure if this is the right place, but with those who have ordered from Golden Moon Teas, did they send an email to let you know when your tea shipped? I ordered on 2/27 and received the email that they received my order, and that’s been it. Not sure if I should be looking out for a package soon or checking my inbox.
I’ll give it a few days, I don’t know where they’re coming from, just antsy.
Good luck with your Lupicia order, I hope they are helpful.
Golden Moon did send me an email saying my order shipped, complete with tracking number. But if you go and look at the order in the “My Account” section on their site, it shows as shipped maybe a day or half a day before they send the email out, so you might want to check that. The first time I ordered from them, I ordered on a Tuesday and they sent me a shipment email on Friday. The second time I ordered from them, I ordered on a Saturday, and they sent me a shipment email on Tuesday. Just to give you an idea about their process times, etc. :)
And they ship from Virginia, if that helps at all!
Thanks the quiet life-that helps a bunch, I looked and it says shipped, so I’ll probably get an email within the next few days. I’m excited to try the tea samples!
Glad I could help! :) The samples are amazing! I still have a ton I have to try. It’s going to take forever, but that’s okay. It’ll be fun. :P
MeghannM- too funny. Just got the shipping email. They tell you which free sample they’re putting in your package in the email which I personally don’t like. It ruins the surprise:(
How quick do they normally respond to emails? I ordered Monday…but on the site my order just says “Full Payment Received”. I sent them an email asking for a status and haven’t recieved anything back???
Ok, no communication. Sent them an email, still no response, and I don’t even think my tea has shipped yet. Not impressed so far….
:( I like the surprise too. Good to know, if I order from them I just won’t look :)
I started drinking good tea on a trip to China a few years ago. I have ordered some teas from Tevana, but found them a little pricey. Lately, I have been ordering on Ebay directly from China and have had some good luck. The prices are so much better.
When I see something I like, especially tea, I can’t deal w/ the disappointment of being outbid and I haven’t found that great of things on Buy it Now.
I have place two orders with Yunnan Colorful on Ebay. It takes a while…..two weeks + to get the orders, but I have received the first order and am very pleased with the tea. I got one green tea and three pur eh teas. The owner is very good to e-mail answers to questions and they have very good ratings. I have one tea in my Watching list that is a Buy it Now tea. The order that I placed during Chinese New Year celebration has not arrived yet….it is an organic jasmine pearl tea….. $33 and free shipping for a pound of tea.
I’ve had better experiences with two major national chain vendors than I’ve had with one of my local places, ironically. The local place sells fantastic teas, but they can’t get their delivery act together. Sent me someone else’s order to start with, sent me a gift card for the trouble, then did not have a way for me to redeem the gift card when I placed a second order, figuring I’d give them the benefit of the doubt on the first effort. Crazy.
But 3 long-distance vendors were quick, correct, and had discounts. Dean & DeLuca had the best price I’ve yet found on Mariage Frères, Two Leaves and a Bud has had 20% promotion on their loose teas for several weeks, and there’s Teavana who I have the fortune of both being near their brick-and-mortar and have ordered from online.
To the original post topic: I order based on the kind of tea I’m looking to try or stock up on, and then look for the place that has the better price and secure-est ordering method. Not necessarily a loyalist to any one particular vendor, though if I continue to see Mariage Freres at D&Deluca for the same price, I may become a DeFan.