Flying internationally with tea
Ok, so… stupid question of the day.
I’m leaving Saturday for Ireland for two weeks. It’s not a vacation, but anyway, I will be doing enough sitting around that I’ll be able to brew tea, so I’m trying to decide what to bring and how to pack it. I have dozens, maybe more than a 100 samples to drink, so I’m thinking of taking mostly samples with a few favorite shengs, shus, and oolongs. I cannot decide whether or not I should put it in my carry on, or pack it in my suitcase. The wife says suitcase. I’m afraid of TSA agents messing with my stuff and/or mistaking me for a drug smuggler either way, so I’m not sure what to do. I considered shipping the tea to Ireland in advance, but that was not cost effective. Any advice from travel savvy tea friends?
I’ve done both. Carry on and in my checked luggage….so far no issues either way regardless of whether i was flying to the us from canada or to paris.
Stowed luggage doesn’t really undergo the scrutiny the carry on does. I’d say pack it in the stowed luggage and just carry what you will need for the flight.
I’ve done both and never had any problems. Heavily compressed, extra thick bricks of tea can’t be scanned by X-ray and will raise some eyebrows. I just tell them to boil up some hot water and I’ll brew some.
I’ve put tea in checked luggage and carry on (China → Canada → China), and both were fine. I don’t know what customs or border services is like in Ireland for tea, but if it’s like Canada, no problem. The biggest hassle was having someone go through my bag at security and make sure the tea wasn’t anything more nefarious. Just don’t forget to put any tea pics in checked luggage, if you’re bringing them!
I’ve carried tea, often out of its original packaging, from the US to various points in Europe and back in my checked luggage and have never had any problems. That said, I’ve actually never had my luggage identified by customs for a search on either end. But I’ve never had tea go missing from my suitcase en route or anything like that.
It shouldn’t be a problem. @Cwyn is right about TSA being a bit easier on the checked bags. Though I’ve had my checked bag examined before and a few clothing articles went missing. If it’s a very special tea that you only have a little then you may want to keep it in your carry-on so they don’t accidentally drop it or forget to put it back in after they examine your checked bag - if they decide to search your checked bag.
Well, most of what I’m bringing will be in little baggies. Talk about suspicious, lol!
Tea and drugs don’t look anything alike, and honestly if it came to that a drug dog or field test would instantly dismiss your teas. If it were me I would carry my tea with me, not check it, and also label it for what it was to dismiss any suspicion. However, I’d be thinking more about whether customs of Ireland will consider it an “agricultural product” and confiscate it, but I don’t know what Ireland’s customs regulations are, but its just tea so you should be okay.
Or you could always just duct-tape it to your body under your shirt. Just kidding. I’ve put tea in luggage before traveling between lots of places and Thailand and never gave it much thought, and never heard anything about it.
It would almost be worth it to see my wife freaking out when we went through the first parts of the experience since they’d surely get it all sorted out. Of course here they might well have some bricks of drugs lying around inspection areas for use in special occassions, so it might not be so funny in the end.