Erin said

Is this bad for the tea?

Last time I bought tea, it was a large-leaf kind of tea and wouldn’t quite fit in the bag. So the girl took the scoop and crushed it in, I could hear it crunching and couldn’t help but wince. She wasn’t exactly gentle about it either. Is this bad for the tea, or would it really not matter that much?

28 Replies
Uniquity said

Was this at Davids Tea? I’ve noticed that some staff do that there. I don’t appreciate it when they do it, as it breaks the tea leaves and makes the leaf (whatever the original size) smaller. Particularly when I’m buying more expensive full leaf teas, it’s upsetting. A couple of times I’ve wanted to speak up about it, but didn’t. In hindsight, I wish I had as it does affect the quaity of the brew (broken tea equals more tannins). I like to think that in future if it happens I can find a nice way to bring it up, but I can be a little too docile when it comes to customer service sometimes – I just can’t imagine what to say. Best of luck!

Erin said

It wasn’t at David’s, but I’ve had it happen there too. I don’t know what to say either, especially because I go to these same locations often… I don’t want to become known as “that bitchy girl who wouldn’t let us crush her tea” or something lol.

I’ve had that happen a few times at David’s. They DO have larger bags, which I discovered once when I bought a large white tea, and the girl scooping it said, “I’ll put it in a bigger bag so it doesn’t get so crushed.” I was all, OH. They have bigger bags!

So I think the “nicest” way to bring it up would be to pre-empt any crushing with a larger tea and ask for a larger bag right off the bat before they start scooping.

DukeGus said

You should speak up guys, while I’m reading this I get, wth!
They crush your tea leaves? Are they freakin’ crazy?

Sorry guys but I would ask for another if they crushed mine right away,
I would never pay for crushed tea leaves!!! My blood pressure rised when I read that ha haha hah aha :)

Uniquity said

@Daniel – I was so happy when I found out about the larger bags. They seem to hold onto those for dear life though! Some of the staff are good about going to a second bag, but some always try to get it in one.

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im not sure if its bad for the tea or not and i’m sure the crumbs can be brewed in a bag but i would not want anyone crushing my tea like that .

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I adore Tealish, but have noticed them doing this which is really upsetting. It definitely degrades the quality of the tea you’re getting. It just seems hard to speak up about for some reason.

Erin said

Yes, it was at Tealish! I felt so awkward not knowing what to say.

Ha! As soon as I read this, I was like “Oh, yeah, that’s Tealish.”

It drives me nuts!

Yeah, it’s not good that we could identify the store! I’ve seen it at DT but not as agressively as Tealish.

I wish we could send a collective, anonymous e-mail asking them to cut it out and explaining why it bothers us!

Uniquity said

I’m sorry to hear there’s somewhere that does it more than DT!

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It is not good for the tea, because it exposes more surface area to the elements which will cause the tea to grow stale faster.

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Ninavampi said

Yes, it will make tea loose its freshness quicker (as pointed out by LiberTEAS), and in some cases it can actually result in a bitter brew. Also, it is sooo beautiful to watch the larger leaves expand as they brew, that breaking nice large tea leaves is a sad thing… Definitely a sound worth cringing at!

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Angrboda said

If you have trouble getting yourself to asking them to please not do it when it happens, see if the shop in question have some sort of general way of leaving feedback. Maybe there’s an email address or something, and then you can write them an email explaining why it’s not a good idea. That way you are not pointing fingers at a specific employee and they won’t know it was you.

But really, how hard can it be for them to just use a larger bag when they see it won’t fit? Or put the rest in a second bag?

Erin said

That’s a great idea, thanks! I will look for an email address.

I’ve e-mailed them with problems before and they’ve been very receptive and helpful.

When we were there recently as a big group, we got a tea for the five of us to split and ask if it would be possible for the 50 g to be broken up evenly into four bags. We were told no, they couldn’t give us that many bags as the price of the tea included the price of the bag o.O.

That’s understandable to me, aisling of tea. I work in mall retail, and while we don’t charge people for bags, we have a fairly strict policy about not giving people more bags than they need to hold their stuff. Simple reason: we run out of bags when cashiers just give them out to people who ask or want to split their purchases. I will bend that rule as cash lead, but sparingly – every time we let that policy start to slide, we run out. And we actually get more bags shipped to us than we can store; we routinely get in trouble with fire marshals/mall security for leaving the boxes of bags in the hallway.

People get furious with us: “It’s just a couple of bags! You can’t give me a couple of bags?!” No. We can’t.

I understand that, I really do, but the five of us had just dropped a significant amount of money there. I would understand if we were only buying the one tea or whatever, but we each bought at least 3-4 teas each.

Really, the biggest issue I had was the attitude we were given when we asked for the split. If it had been nicely explained, that’s one thing, but we weren’t trying to scam them out of anything, but that’s the attitude we were given. shrugs

Ah, I see. Yeah, seems a little silly in particular to note the cost of the bag when the customer is buying a lot.

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cteresa said

Yes, it is.

Besides exposing more surface to the air, the crushing will cause new surfaces to appear, new “harsher” more exposed surfaces which have not been previously treated when the tea was oxidized. The “bitter” tannins will leak through those new surfaces faster when the tea is steeped. this is IMO particularly noticeable in flavoured tea. If you crush loose leaf tea, it will brew up more bitter. Also this happens naturally, when you got a tin or package of loose leaf tea, often the last little bits are the broken up parts and they always brew up a bit more tanninic than they have to.

When sending tea samples, I am always careful of not crushing too much and sending on a bubble wrap envelope.

If they try to that to you, just ask them no and tell them you will bring a stupid plastic sandwich bar, if they can not afford a decently sized bag for the tea you are buying.

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cteresa said

Or better yet, do not buy any tea, particularly premium prized tea from them. How much do they charge by the gram? because I bet the price of a plastic, or even paper bag is much much cheaper than the prize they charge for their tea.

but seriously, do not buy from them anything, or anything not dead cheap. Whoever does that, or allows that to be done to tea is not a somebody whose judgement about what is premium tea you want to trust.

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Azzrian said

Yikes I will be doing all my tea trades by sending in a box from now on!

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If you are open to it, I have one approach as to how to handle this with the salesperson packaging your tea.

You could preempt them right before they package it by saying something to the effect of, “I understand it may be difficult to get all of the tea in this bag, but I really love the tea leaves to remain as they are now, as whole as possible, because < I like to watch the whole leaves as they steep, OR they stay fresher that way OR some other reason OR for no other reason than that’s just important to you >. So I would really appreciate it of you would /do what you can/do your best/ to make sure the tea stays as whole as possible when your packaging it < I’m trying to state it in the positive, rather than stating what you don’t want, like, ‘so you don’t crush it’ >.”

I understand it made be hard to say something like this to someone directly, but it is your tea after all, and you are the one who will be drinking it, not the salesperson. : )

Depending on the situation, you could even offer to package it for them (like pour some tea from the scoop to the bag, shake the bag to get the tea to settle, pour some more, shake it some more, etc.), and you may teach them something (I’ve done something similar and got a grateful reaction from them).

Azzrian said

Excellent advice – speaking in the positive always gets better results. Lets not forget that its not only your tea but you money as well!

Erin said

This is helpful, thanks! I’ll try a combo of this + bringing my own extra bag next time.

I’m glad you both liked the approach.

Erin: Bringing your own extra bag sounds like an excellent idea!

As others have mentioned, emailing corporate may be helpful too (although that route usually takes a while to get the suggestions/ideas implemented at each store). Communicating with the ‘higher ups’, or someone in corporate customer service, can be a great long term solution.

I have found that I am often shocked (positively) when I respectfully speak up in cases like this, focusing on what I want rather than what I don’t want. Oftentimes others truly don’t know they are doing something you don’t like; that’s why speaking up is so important. Sorry, I guess I was doing a little lecturing, there. : }

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