Do you think on line tea shops are useful?

I think they are great, but most of the people don´t trust in them, why?

37 Replies
Doulton said

I am not certain about who doesn’t trust them. I absolutely need them and have placed orders with many on-line tea shops. I’ve been spoiled by the generally speedy shipping and the ease of ordering tea from my home study. Indeed, I think that on-line shopping has possibly done a lot for tea-drinking in the USA. A lot of us live far from anyplace that sells more than a few tea-bags.

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i love shopping online, but also wish i could visit my local shops more often sigh i just work too much.

online shops save those with no local shops, and also offer variety not offered locally

SoccerMom said

I ditto AmazonV

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Cait select said

If you go to a physical tea shop, you can usually taste a few of their teas and you can generally smell what you’re buying before you spend money on it. That’s definitely reassuring for novice tea-drinkers and nice even for people who already know what they like. I think it’s probably not that people don’t trust online stores as much as they want to do the equivalent of test driving before buying. (I’m sure some people just don’t trust online shopping, but that’s an attitude which is fading out rapidly in the internet age!)

Review sites like Steepster and the availability of inexpensive samplers are great resources for tea buyers looking to branch out beyond what’s physically available in their localities, though. Tea is very much a specialty item in North America and Europe (and probably elsewhere), so there’s a lot more available online than is going to be feasibly available locally.

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Lori said

If it weren’t for online tea shops, it would be near impossible for me to try any tea besides Lipton or Snapple! Although Whole Foods does carry a small selection of teas from Numi and Rishi….

So far, I have not had any difficulties with any tea vendors including California Tea House, Upton, Samovar, Adagio…

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gmathis said

Ditto…here in the Midwest, Republic of Tea is about as exotic as it gets. For any variety whatsoever, sadly, must seek online.

Cofftea said

Gmathis- I agree! We do have one tea shop 20 min from me. I use them to get my Rishi products. $8 to shop an 50g package a whole 90 miles that takes 9 days to get here is insane. My beef is the only place to have a bowl of matcha is an hr away!

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Cofftea said

I’m not sure “most” people don’t trust them. Look at how many people buy online here. :) But I think of the people that don’t trust them, most of them tend to not trust most companies for online purchases.

I’ve bought teaware online before (from Den’s, Lupica, Samovar, and Adagio) with no problems, but I can definitely see where more people would be skeptical to buy teaware online than tea. Teaware is something I personally like to physically see and touch to see if it’s the right piece for me.

Being able taste the tea (most tea shops at least have a few “on tap” for you to try) is also a pro to buying in store… but then again, a lot of online companies compensate this w/ free samples- which I like even more because you may get something you never dreamed of getting. Fear of the unknown and getting “stuck” w/ tea is also a factor. Not all companies let you return tea, and even those that do likely will toss the tea due to sanitary reasons. Idk about you, but even throwing out tea I think is vile makes me cry. Rehoming tea isn’t always something a person wants to do either- sometimes they don’t know anyone else that drinks tea and are not comfortable w/ tea swaps/giveaways w/ strangers. Luckily, a lot of tea companies have small samples that can be bought individually or sampler sets so if you decide you don’t like something and choose to either return it or chuck it not as much money and/or tea is wasted.

Shipping can also be an issue- everything from it getting lost (which isn’t the fault of the company), to it getting damaged, to not having instant gratification, to the cost (I like to factor the price of shipping into the cost/g of a tea and doing math takes a little time to do the number crunching). I think this would be less of an issue if people took advantage of company newsletters if available- companies often offer monthly sales including percentages off, free products, free shipping, and frequent buyer programs to help save the customer money. Not to mention some companies offer auto ship to avoid “AH CRAP! I’M OUT!” moments.

That being said, even for tea, a person that has access to brick and mortar tea shops may choose to not buy online (especially to avoid shipping costs), but that isn’t a matter of distrust. I think it also depends on what kind of tea you drink. A person who just drinks grocery store bagged may be less likely to make tea and tea related purchases online.

My own personal opinion: if it just comes down to a security issue- check the company out w/ the BBB and get over it. Why let fear prevent you from not trying amazing products? (tea or otherwise)

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Also note: Not all companies have a BBB file like me. I have never had an issue or had an issue get out of control to be reported to the BBB. I also have not paid dues to be come a member either. Personally this message board has more power over a company then the BBB. I would say ask someone that has done business with a company and ask for their experiance.

Cofftea said

Good point Jade Teapot. I didn’t realize that not all companies have them and that they aren’t manditory. It would be so nice if they were.

Here are some usefull tips for avoiding internet fraud.
1) make contact by phone or e-mail ensure they exist.
2) you can obtain an address (even if they have a PO box on their site if they are registered company you can lookup their registry.) here is mine
Search them out a bit to see like BBB but not all, check out blogs. you can ask them if they use one and go there.
try to get free samples first if you question or want, even if they dont say they offer them you can most likley twist their arm for them to do it. (I am yet to be told no.)

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Erin said

I love shopping online for tea! I just moved to the middle of nowhere, Texas, so I have no clue where to go to buy tea around here. Additionally, I first discovered tea when I was in college without a car, so I wouldn’t have been able to visit a shop. If it weren’t for online tea sites, I wouldn’t have been able to discover tea.

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I tried ordering teas online a while back and got samples, and was really disappointed. Until I discovered Steepster I didn’t even realize how many online stores and different companies there are! Till now I’ve mainly drank from teavana and harney and sons, since I can go to both of those stores (sort of) easily. (teavana moreso). I’m still a little skeptical with ordering teas online though.

Cofftea said

Can you tell me a little more about the specifics of your disappointment? It’s just as possible to get tea that isn’t up to your standards (either in quality or just not being your cuppa) from a brick and mortar shop so I’m curious as to how/if your disappointment is specifically connected to it being an online purchase. Also, just out of curiosity- what company/ies was it?

I am more interested in what was your disappointment than who was it with. If you would be so kind as to let us know what made the experiance unpleasent.

Cofftea said

Although knowing what company can help other steepsterites “buyer beware”. I wish there was a place we could rate companies here, although w/ more and more companies having profiles here now- that may make things a little awkward… although we shouldn’t let that bother us… I was just talking about not letting fear affect us after all.

I agree with a rating of a company on steepster, it would help with the heart ache of really bad companies. I would imagine it is comming.

For me I would like to see the feedback and reviews of overall service and delight or not so happy. As long as I would be given the chance to make things good and fix any issues. Other than that rate away and enjoy.

It wasn’t necessarily a bad company, a lot of people buy from that site and like it… I just wasn’t happy with the tea. And even before buying I read the reviews on the site and thats why i finally decided (after days of pondering) to buy samples. If i had tried it before I bought it though, i wouldn’t have bought it.

I just think that even if it is a reputable site, its still so hard to pick out the right tea, without being able to smell it/ try it, etc. I have a hard time online shopping for everything though. Being in the store itself I get such a good feel for what i’m buying. Clothing wise, houseware wise, anything… tea included.

Cofftea said

I agree Kathryn Ann- but even if you go to a brick and mortar shop, chances are you can’t taste every single tea the sell… and I’ve learned from experience smell can be decieving.

true, you cant try every tea, but if you chat up the people in the store, and if they are friendly, you can usually get them to have you try teas. I know at teavana they always have many different teas already prepared, and at harney and sons you can really try any tea in the store if you’re there at the right time.

And i’ve learned the hard way that smells can be deceiving!!

I’m slowly trying to get used to online shopping for teas, but its just so hard, since I’m not used to online shopping much at all.

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A little bit off topic – but I have to admit, nowadays I even shop for lots of my clothes and shoes online, as long as I know about the brands and their sizes :-p

i want girls clothes to come in real sizes so i could shop online easier! at least many sites offer easy exchanges

Yeah nowadays I go to the mall to return some clothes instead of buying some :-p

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