Where does that tea blend come from anyway?
I have this little bag of flavoured rooibos that has been in my cupboard for ages (seriously, I’m thinking 10 years or more). So I decided to pull it out and have a cup tonight, and then I was trying to figure out how to find it on steepster. First problem: it’s from a little shop that doesn’t exist anymore. But like, it was a little cookie shop that also sold tea, so I’m pretty sure they weren’t blending it on the premises or anything. So first I searched for the name, “Provence Rooibos”, and that brought up 42 hits on steepster. Hmmm. Are they all the same blend? Are they all different blends that just happen to have the same name? Which one actually corresponds to the one I have here in my cup?
So the only other info I have on this little packet is the description, which looks like it was printed on a label sticker thingie and stuck on. It says:
Origin: South Africa Caffeine free herbal
Flavoury with a floral and fruity bouquet. Perfume lavender notes. Inspired by the joie de vivre of France.
So, interestingly, if you google for “inspired by the joie de vivre of france” you get all sorts of tea shops, restaurants, retailers… and they are all selling this tea with exactly the same description, including the weird word “flavoury” (though some places spell it the American way). Sometimes, the description of the tea is the same, but the name itself is different (eg. “French Countryside”, “Mixed Berry”). Several places have this extra bit of flavour text: “An old French saying has it that to spend an afternoon in Provence is to spend an afternoon in heaven itself. The reason for this lies in its altitude above the Mediterranean, crisp clean air and lush foliage. Provence literally teems with gardens, pastures and woodlands. A walk down one of its many country roads will have you stopping to pick wild strawberries, herbs, spices and especially flowers. The abundance of both wild and cultivated flowers growing along the roadside gives the very air of Provence the aroma of a natural perfumery.”
So I go looking on the websites, trying to figure out where all these different people are buying this tea from. Most don’t say anything at all about where they source their teas, besides something vague like “we stock high quality loose leaf teas from around the world!”. Not helpful. So then I repeat the google search for that phrase, along with the word “wholesale”. That brings up multiple wholesalers, but several of them actually cite the manufacturer as “Sentosa Teas”. Aha! Sentosa Teas is indeed a tea company that sells to wholesalers (what does that make them? a mega-wholesaler?) and they have a lot of blends (including this one) so I’m guessing this is the actual source. I do find it interesting that other than at the wholesale level, pretty much nobody even mentions their name. Have you guys heard of them?
I’ve never heard of Sentosa Teas before, but that exact copy line is part of Metropolitan Tea Company’s description for Provence Rooibos. They’re a huge retailer and their teas can be found all over the place, often rebranded. Tweed & Hickory sells it online but you can probably get it about a bajillion other places too.
Oh yeah, I’ve totally seen Metropolitan Tea in tea and coffee shops, with the big glass canisters? I think that’s what my local coffee shop sells… might have to go in there just to check. :)
I have a feeling they’re sourcing at least some of their teas from Sentosa though. Compare:
Here’s another fun one. Plug this into google:
“high grown teas from the top 3 tea growing regions of Sri Lanka – Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva”
Or this one:
“exquisite haunting hints of peach”
Search the forum here for Metropolitan resellers. There is at least one thread about it. There is one company who repackages and sells Harney too.
A LOT of companies share wholesalers for teas. Here in Vancouver, there are 6 or 7 tea shops that have similar suppliers and so there is some overlap of teas. They each choose what they like best, though, so you might get more variety of rooibos at one and green tea at another.
One more example:
Sentosa Scottish Caramel Pu-erh
“Dessert in a cup. The earthiness pf pu-erh fuses with caramel for a sweetly decadent finish.” $26.98/lb (which works out to $1.69/oz)
Tweed and Hickory (Metropolitan) – http://www.tweedandhickory.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/scottish-caramel-pu-erh-tea.html
Tea Lady (Metropolitan) – http://www.tea-lady.com/shop/black-tea/scottish-caramel-pu-erh/
Angelina’s Teas – http://www.angelinasteas.com/shoppe/teas/pu-erh/SKU001002-4fd8fa95542c8-detail.html
English Tea Store – http://www.englishteastore.com/loose-leaf-tea-pu-erh-caramel-toffee.html
The Whistling Kettle – http://www.thewhistlingkettle.com/scottish-caramel-toffee-pu-ern.html
Darlene’s Tea Port – http://www.theteaport.com/scottish_caramel_toffee_pu_erh/
Enjoying Tea – http://www.enjoyingtea.com/sccatopu.html
Banff Tea Co – http://www.banffteaco.com/shop/scottish-caramel-pu-erh/
TeaLady.ca – http://www.tealady.ca/china-black-tea/14-scottish-pu-erh-tea.html
The Kiosque – http://www.thekiosque.ca/scottish-caramel-pu-erh
Angelic Teapot – http://www.angelicteapot.ca/black/product/39-scottish-caramel-toffee-pu-erh
Simpli-Special – http://www.simpli-special.co.uk/scottish-caramel-toffee-pu-erh-loose-leaf-tea-100g-49-p.asp
High Teas – http://www.highteas.co.uk/scottish-caramel-toffee-pu-erh/p328
Physical Graffitea – http://physicalgraffitea.com/pu-erh/scottish-toffee-pu-erh/
So I guess the moral of the story here is that if you find a tea blend you like, do a bit of searching online to see if you can find a local reseller or someone selling it online for less markup.