Canadian Steepsters, how do you get your tea?
I’m a Canadian who loves straight Chinese and Taiwanese teas who buys from international businesses that use the U.S. dollar, which doesn’t fare well with the Canadian exchange rate. I’m wondering how other tea-loving Canadians are dealing with this.
I know we’ve had several posts on shipping and such, but they’re very out of date. It doesn’t help that Steepster contains relatively few reviews of Canadian tea companies, making me reluctant to buy from them.
In Canada, since Terroir Tea and Tea Ave have closed, there aren’t many options for high-end black, oolong, or puerh teas. In terms of international shipping, I consider $10 or below for a standard order reasonable, and am even happier if they offer free shipping over a certain amount.
Here is a rundown of some Canadian companies I’m considering, plus some popular international options.
Camellia Sinensis (free shipping over $50)
Jalam Teas (around $3-$8 in Canada)
Sebz Tea (free shipping over $50)
Tao Tea Leaf (free shipping over $50 in Canada)
The Chinese Tea Shop (free shipping in Canada above $95)
ZhenTea (free shipping over $75)
World Tea House (free shipping over $75)
Tealyra (free shipping over $50)
Cha Yi Tea House (free shipping over $50)
Golden Tea Leaf (free shipping over $50)
Treasure Green ($15 in Canada)
O-Five Rare Tea Bar (free shipping over $85 USD)
Van Cha (can’t find shipping info)
Murchie’s Tea & Coffee (flat rate of $7.95)
CHA Gloriette (no shipping info)
Delish Tea (no shipping info)
Tea with You
Four Seasons Tea Co (no shipping info)
Capital Tea Limited (free shipping over $60, flat rates in Canada around $8)
Vansing, TWG distributor (free shipping over $150)
World of Tea Ottawa (free shipping over $75)
JagaSilk (looks like free shipping in Canada and the U.S.)
Silk Road Tea (free shipping over $75)
Yunnan Sourcing (high shipping but low prices)
Taiwan Tea Crafts (free shipping over $60)
Floating Leaves ($15 USD to Canada)
Tea from Taiwan (free shipping over $60)
Tillerman Tea (free shipping in North America)
Mountain Stream Teas (free worldwide shipping over $25)
Hatvala(flat rate of $5 USD)
Teavivre (free over $30)
Old Ways Tea (international flat rate of $10)
Wuyi Origin (free shipping over $100, not sure if international)
White2Tea (regular shipping is around $10 USD)
World of Finest Tea ($6.72 for international shipments)
Whispering Pines ($14 USD to Canada)
Yunnan Craft (shipping based on weight)
Bitterleaf Tea (free shipping over $100 USD)
Even more irritating are the companies that don’t disclose their international shipping rates at all. (Please note that I don’t blame any of these businesses, as postage can be expensive.)
Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this issue and to add more Canadian/international options.
As a Canadian, I also get irate when companies don’t clearly disclose shipping rates, and I have to click all the way through the cart to the end step JUST to learn it’s double the price of the tea itself. Bluh.
Seeing as they’re local to me (as is Chinese Tea Shop) I don’t know what their shipping is like, but.
Oh: I can also throw http://murchies.com down on there but obviously: I work there, and: they lean much more heavily on blends, minus the limited Premium Tea releases
Seeing as your in Toronto here are some recommendations:
Chagloriette is in Pacific mall. They have really nice teaware. There is a greater selection of tea in shop and if you time it right they will treat you to samples and conversation delivered in a beautiful tea ceremony.
Check out there Instagram for examples of teaware https://instagram.com/chagloriette?igshid=1fjvceu3dm9h4
Delish tea is the website for Lau Sun Mou Tea Co. Ltd in Scarborough. They have a lot more tea in shop and will give you very good prices if you buy in shop. They carry Chinese teas.
Tea with you has two physical locations one outside of Milton and a new one ( may not be open yet) in Hamilton. They have some interesting heicha, nice greens and oolongs aged white and some black teas. Not a lot of puerh.
Have some very nice if expensive teas.
Yunnancraft offers good value for the money for the most part. https://www.yunnancraft.com/en/
For often great value for black teas and greens especially ( don’t even consider the puerh) https://m.dhgate.com/store/18272721#$seo=pc$
I like Camellia Sinensis a lot; I ordered from them frequently when I was living in Saskatchewan and now that I’m in Montreal I spend way too much money shopping there in person…
For companies outside of Canada that don’t have reasonable flat rate shipping or a free ship threshold I usually wait until there are sales to order; but sometimes I have to just suck it up and bite the dollar conversion if I really want the tea.
From your international list, I really like White2Tea (I spend far too much money there) and have also been really happy with the tea I purchased this year from Old Ways Tea as well.
I’d add Bitterleaf Tea to your list as well; I like them a lot for pu’erh/black tea (and a bit of white tea) as well as teaware and they sometimes do free shipping sales as well as have a free ship threshold.
@AJ, I’ve definitely had that experience. I’ve seen shipping to Canada that’s $20 and up. :( It’s especially frustrating when I get excited over huge discounts offered by American companies, only to realize that the shipping would completely cancel out the savings.
@yyz, thanks for the Toronto recommendations! I don’t have a car, so getting to the physical locations might be an issue, but I’m glad to see more tea houses in the city. Cha Gloriette seems to have a limited selection and some issues with its website, but it might be fun to check it out. I wish tea houses would let you sample so you didn’t have to buy $35 worth of one kind of tea!
Delish Tea has a great selection of Tie Guan Yin! Has anyone tried it?
I’ve been tempted to buy from Yunnan Craft, but the lack of reviews gave me pause. Also, that store you linked to has amazing prices, but again, I’m not sure I would trust my ability to pick the good tea from the not so good.
@Roswell Strange, I, too, like Camellia Sinensis. For some reason, I couldn’t access their new website, which probably saved me some money. Having the physical store nearby would be dangerous!
I’ve also been tempted by Bitterleaf, though the high prices always manage to dissuade me. However, I’m sure their Dan Congs are amazing.
Understand I don’t have a car too. Pacific Mall is a cross the street from one of the go stations but you have to pay careful attention to the hours or you will be forced to use the TTC. Chagloriette will let you sample in store which is nice. They also have sample sizes available for purchase for some of their teas in store.
I’ve tried the Tianxiang the Baoshan and the high evolution fancy thy. My favourites were the Tianxiang and the Baoshan. The Baoshan may need to rest a little if it is a fresh roast. I liked it enough to buy some to age. She also has Shui Xian and sometimes more variety of Dancong if you are lucky.
Yunnan craft tends to have really cheap samples if that helps.
There is another tea shop that has moved from another mall to a cross the aisle from Chagloriette. I haven’t had time to explore it yet. The last time I visited Chagloriette we sampled 3-4 teas I think, through 5steeps to see their progression.
Yunnan Craft was very communicative with me when I placed my first order with them, however, my order consisted of only puerh and heicha. I don’t participate on reddit but I do occasionally pop into r/tea and r/puer, both of which they seem to quite active on. I wouldn’t hesitate to ask them for recommendations on other types of tea they sell!
Yes Alex is pretty great at Yunnan Craft. They tend to be pretty honest or even depreciating about their descriptions.
The dhgate store I linked to above used to sell on AliExpress it was then called Han Xiang Ecological Store. There are some reviews available on Steepster however only a few of the things reviewed are available currently. The seller is actually pretty chatty if you catch him on line and is pretty knowledgeable. There is a little bit of a language barrier but he is pretty understandable.
If you buy in store at delish tea she gives you about twice the amount of tea for the price listed on the website.
There are a number of other shops in the Toronto area both online and in store. Another shop I buy from on a regular basis is https://www.capitaltea.com/newest-arrivals/
They do have some oolong and Chinese blacks. I don’t really have much experience with their oolongs but their blacks have been fairly decent. However I have most experience with their Indian Subcontinent and African teas.
Another one I almost forgot about is
It is a limited selection but the puerh is pleasant and she has wholesaled in the past to Mandala teas. In the past you could avoid shipping but arranging a local pick up usually Yorkdale Mall. However Vicky is a new mom at the moment so I don’t know if she offers that service at the moment.
I got a couple Cha Gloriette teas at last years Toronto Tea Festival, they were good but not mindblowing. I’ve been meaning to visit their tea house for a long time now, but being without a car makes it really hard to get there from Waterloo.
I have a feeling that all things considered, buying from international vendors still tends to give the best value. Maybe unless you have a Camellia Sinensis teahouse in the town, I am a bit jealous there Roswell Strange.
Although, I found a new tea/coffee shop in Kitchener selling (and serving) Kuura teas for less than their online price (before shipping).
Looks like there are lots of recommendations for Yunnan Craft. I might have to get a bunch of samples. Glad to know that Cha Gloriette also does samples if I can get to them.
Tea Delish could be a good way to get lots of TGY, though again, it would involve a long TTC trip. That might be something to do in the summer when the 2020 harvest comes in.
Capital Tea has been on my radar for a while.
Now I need to decide if it’s actually cheaper to order from these Canadian stores.