Overall Experience: POSITIVE
First time buying from them (I ordered from them in April of 2011).
Facts and Observations: They offer a wide selection of tea in every class with the exception of yellow tea (only one; my understanding is that very few yellow teas are available in the US). They offer a few flavored teas, organic teas, and a small number of blends and tisanes. They offer tea from China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Korea and a few other countries. Their descriptions of their teas are the most comprehensive and well written of any I have ever encountered (with the exception of Seven Cups). They provide information on location and year of harvest for their green, yellow and white teas, some Darjeelings and pu-erhs, and a few other black teas and oolongs. Two of their books-–The Tea Enthusiasts handbook and The Story of Tea—are the most contemporary and comprehensive books written about tea I have ever encountered. They occasionally have sales on their teas (especially when the new years harvest arrives). They travel to a different tea producing country each year and provide information on their travels on their website. They sell some tea-wares and accessories. Although I do not like the price of their samples—-very expensive for the amount you get: $5 – $8 for half of an ounce—-their prices on the four, eight and 16 ounce packages are very reasonable as compared to teas of similar quality anywhere else in the US.
My Experience: They processed my order in a reasonable amount of time. The teas I ordered—eight different varieties—were very fresh and accurately matched the descriptions on their website. They included one free sample with my order (a quality spring green tea).
Their website is very professional looking and very easy to navigate. They provide great pictures of every tea. They provide helpful information for each class of tea and each country. The use of the cart/basket when purchasing items is intuitive. You can review the status of your order and other ongoing personal information through an online account system. My experience in regularly looking at their website is that their teas rarely sell out. They have a great section on general information about tea (health benefits, definition of classes of teas, ‘tea 101,’ etc). They also have a related blog.
Facts: Their shipping policy: $10 for shipping if the total order is below $15; $8 if order is below $25; $6 if below $50, and free if over $100. They provide a shipping number so you can track your package.
My Experience: Everything I ordered—-and stated as ‘in stock’ on their website—-was delivered. Invoice (initialed by the owner) and one free sample included.
I e-mailed them once with a general question that had nothing to do with my order. One of the owners (Mary Lou) replied with a satisfactory answer in a reasonable amount of time.
You can return items purchased for a refund minus a restocking fee (I believe it is 7%).
All four-ounce teas came in black (the yellow tea came in a red bag) zip lock re-sealable bags with a small oval ‘window’ on the back to view the tea through. The label has the name and weight of the tea with brewing parameters displayed on it. The sample came in a small, thin transparent bag with a label.
Would I buy from them again:
YES. I hope to buy from them at least once a year (when the new spring greens become available). They offer many fresh spring green teas for a reasonable price, and the prices of most of their other teas are also very reasonable. They will always have a special place in my ‘tea’ heart, as they so masterfully introduced me to the wonders of artisan loose-leaf tea!