I’m not a fan. I wish I could say I was. Maybe this would be a good tea and crumpets kinda place, but I’m more of a purist. You’d probably do well with flavored and darker teas that stand up to longer storage. I purchased some Long Jing Green tea from these guys and it was long in the tooth, tasting of the container, which likely held another type of tea previously. It is essentially undrinkable and still sits on my shelf until I need the container. At that point I’ll probably store it permanently in the circular file.
I give Chado two stars, because, the interior is nice and the staff was very attentive. Not far from my home, I was hopefully, but ultimately disappointed.
I found Summit Tea through their listings on Amazon. A quick Google search led me to their web site and a phone number. Interested in their Lonjing, I called to inquire more about the product. After leaving a message I was called back by Nate Waller, the Chief Operating Officer at Summit. What resulted was an enjoyable phone conversation with a guy who obviously digs his tea. For a very reasonable price, Nate put together a wonderful sample pack of their green teas, as well as some oolong and black teas he recommended. As time allows I will share my tasting notes.
Ultimately I ended up purchasing more quantity, as well as their 16 oz. glass tumbler. Both the teas I purchased are not listed on Amazon, nor are they on the Summit Tea web site. Though I appreciate being offered these teas, I ultimately found it a bit confusing, as I had no reference for more information. Nate however was happy to provide details on origin, etc.
Summit appears to me more wholesale in spirit, and from what I could tell supplies retailers such as Whole Foods. While Nate was very generous with his time on our first phone call, I found it difficult to get back in touch with him for further orders. Ultimately another representative, Patti Waller, processed my follow up order.
Focusing mostly on Chinese tea, overall I’d say my experience with Summit was fairly good. Their web site is nice and they seem passionate about tea. I wasn’t crazy about their Longjing, the tea I sought them out for. The pictures on Amazon didn’t represent it well, though the pics on www.summittea.com do it justice. I’ve enjoyed some of their other products and use their tumbler on a daily basis. I went with a 4 star rating, but would probably do a 3.5 if that were possible.
Give ’em a try!
UPDATE: Sadly, the Chinatown location has closed permanently. They still have locations in Arcadia and Monterey Park.
I visit Wing Hop Fung at least once a month to restock my Longjing supply. I usually leave with some new tea that the ladies there have enticed me to buy. The staff will be happy to allow you to sample most any tea, within reason, at their traditional tasting bar. As other reviewers have pointed out there’s a plethora to choose from. And as I mentioned, they usually turn me on to something new every time. Language is often a barrier, but I find I can decipher most of what I need to know.
For the most part the staff is friendly, greeting a smile with a smile, but at times they can be a bit dismissive and impatient. By now they’ve gotten fairly use to me it seems and are not surprised to see me spend an hour or more perusing their selection. There are usually multiple grades of any one loose-leaf tea to pick from. For instance, on my last visit I counted about 6+ different Longjings, in varying qualities and price ranges. They do store their loose-leaf teas in glass jars, which I question, but it’s convenient for eyeballing your options.
From what I understand Wing Hop Fung owns the Bird Pick franchise & carries many of their items, often discounted. This includes boxed teas, tea sets, glassware and loose-leaf teas. I’ve not done a true price comparison between Wing Hop Fung and Bird Pick, but most things appear to be cheaper at Wing Hop Fung, though occasionally you’ll find a better price at Bird Pick (i.e. Organic Longjing). There appears to be no rhyme or reason.
Wing Hop Fung’s tea selection is just part of a large two story building. The first floor is dedicated to medicinal herbs and the second, where the teas are located, is a large grocery carrying everything from cookware to foodstuffs to paper lanterns. Underground parking is available, and if I recall correctly is validated for one hour. They also offer a VIP frequent buyer card that is required for their discounts.
As far as I can tell this is the mother load of Chinese tea in the Los Angeles area. They also offer a smaller selection of Japanese teas and other varieties.