Do you think on line tea shops are useful?

37 Replies
Miss Sweet said

Online tea shops are essential for me, otherwise I wouldn’t get to try anything! I’m not sure whether the trust issue you refer to is about avoiding dodgy sites, or worried about getting bad tea? I always check out Steepster reviews now, especially if they don’t do sample sizes. And if the company isn’t well known I usually google around seeing if other people have bought tea from them.

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Pithy said

I can understand not trusting online vendors, especially when it comes to wanting quality tea. Anyone can say they have great teas, but it’s hard to know for sure if it’s fresh, high quality tea without actually being able to physically see, smell, or taste it. I pretty much stay away from larger sites like Adagio or Rishi because bigger, franchise places are more likely to have lower quality teas due to the volume they have to fill each year.

If you don’t mind me adding a line of questioning to OP’s statement- How do you determine whether to trust a smaller, less known site? Is it the design of a site, how the descriptions are written, or is it mostly their reputation off-site (on places like steepster, etc)

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I love them, discovered loose leaf tea online, and do most of my shopping online! The biggest problem for me is buying without trying, so cheap samples and shipping or an abundance of good reviews on Steepster are key to my buying from a new site. I also love love love being able to compare prices; the same (as far as I can tell – I’m guessing there’s a single wholesaler somewhere) “Earl Grey Cream” blend is available for $5-9 for a 4oz tin from half a dozen vendors

Marie said sells cream earl grey for about $10-11 per 8 oz. She gets here tea from The Metropolitan Tea Company wholesaler. It’s the BEST price I’ve seen so far onilne. I’ve personally bought from this vendor several times, she’s very reliable. And I love Met’s line of loose leaf teas. :)

Thanks! That’s good to know I bought it from Dragonwater awhile ago for about that price, but they aren’t carrying it anymore. sells it for even less — a full pound for a little over $10! I haven’t ordered this blend from them, but I get my Lady Londonderry there for about the same amazing price.

Marie said

LadyLondonderry!!!!! You made my day!!!! Indeed is MUCH cheaper than my usual spot if I can buy a pound of loose leaf tea at a time. How long does tea stay good again?

I’m not sure, but you can always decant some into a small tin or lidded container for immediate use and keep the rest in a larger tin or a big Ziploc bag. That’s what I do with my LL.

Ah, lovely – thanks LL! I’ve heard 6 months as the lower-end estimate on how long tea stays good, and about 2 years on the upper end. But honestly? I drink it as long as it tastes good to me. I think of it like spices: they say those are only good for a few months too, but… if the flavor gets weak, why not just use more instead of throwing it away?

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I usually contact the seller with questions. When I see how and when they respond, that adds to my trust of that vendor.

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Chef8489 said

If it were not for online shops I would not be drinking tea. We dont have anything good around here.

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Marie said

What’s interesting is how much local tea shops can jack up the price on premium teas per ounce! As much as 100% markup or more from the wholesale cost. If I had any time to start a tea business – I would seriously consider starting a tea co-op to buy direct from the wholesaler. You would not believe how much this tea really costs, pennies on the dollar per ounce. Just blows my mind. It’s one thing when you’re getting a rare flush tea, but if you’re getting the standard black types – I just have a hard time spending more than $15 for 4-8oz knowing how much some of the wholesalers sell the tea for.

I love the co-op idea! A favorite outdoor store of mine is the Mountain Equipment Co-op of Canada. It looks like currently it would be hard to gather big enough tea drinker crowd to form a co-op. But in several years, I would like to explore the possiblity of co-op or tea drinkers’ club that organizes purchase directly from China.

Cofftea said

We only have one tea shop here, but I’ve found that if you factor in shipping (which you always should) and disregard loyalty programs the company may have (our tea shop has one anyway), the prices are actually slightly cheaper. They jack up the prices of paper filters like crazy though!

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