Often, I am asked about where I purchase my teas.
There are a variety of wonderful sources which offer quality whole leaf “loose” and whole leaf “bagged” teas. Several are noted in the “Sources” section of this blog. My current favorite suppliers are Harney & Sons and Mighty Leaf Teas. I shop for these online. Often they offer free shipping. Occasionally there are promotional offerings too. I can always count on the tea to be fresh. There are good descriptions about each tea to help you with your selection.
When out shopping, I might pick up a tea or two from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Peet’s Coffees and Teas. When in Fullerton, Ca, I shop and eat at Tranquil Tea Lounge, a favorite spot for daily experiences with teas and food. The tea preparation is spot on, the food is really good, and their pricing is so fair that you can actually go there multiple times a week for lunch or tea time. Depending on what you order, the bill is usually around $10 (that’s including outstanding tea and tea service.)
A conundrum for me has been “choosing” which tea to purchase (if buying for home use) or which to select if out at a tea house. The number of choices is often overwhelming. The infusions of flowers, fruit and other inclusions is almost staggering. This is a time when I suggest that you try something that “sounds” good to you. Ask your server for recommendations too. But know that their tastes are often not like yours. It is really fun to try different flavors and types of leaves.
After over seven years of researching and tasting scores and scores of different teas and tea blends, I have swung all the way around back to preferring “pure” teas, except for Jasmine Pearls… I just love jasmine scented teas and in particular, Dragon Pearl, Jasmine Tea.
Pure teas have no inclusions. An Oolong or Assam or Breakfast tea from a particular estate which has no addition of scent, fruit or flavor is what I go for. The pure taste of the liquor exuding from these whole leaf teas is complex and lovely. Many are organic, most are hand-picked (which increases their quality), and when ordering from a reputable supplier, they will be fresh.
When ordering, purchase a small quantity to start with until you know which ones you want to go back to. Many suppliers, such as Mighty Leaf, offer sample sizes. If ordering whole leaf in individual tea bags, most of these suppliers offer a large variety which come in silk bags. They steep almost as well as “loose” whole leaf teas. There is no need to order or use the “dust” in a paper bag teas anymore. The cost is a bit more; however, 3 to 4 ounces of loose tea (which can range in price depending on the type of tea from $5 to $30) makes 30 to 40 cups of tea (just cents on the cup). And the quality is leaps and bounds higher than your traditional tea dust.
Pictured below are a few of the teas I currently have in my cupboard…
- Top left is Japanese Genmaicha Tea from the Lavendar Lounge Tea Shop in San Clemente, Ca.
Yes, that is popcorn and toasty brown rice mixed with green tea, nicknamed “popcorn” tea
- Top right is Golden Monkey Assam Tea from Harney and Sons
- Center is a simple Irish Breakfast black tea from Harney and Sons
- Bottom right is a lovely Phoenix Mountain Oolong from Peet’s Coffee and Teas
- Bottom Left is Dragon Pearl, Jasmine Tea from Mighty Leaf.
The shelf life of most teas is at least a year, up to two years when stored properly.
I normally start my day with a pure black tea, such as Assam or Breakfast tea with a little milk.
In the afternoon, I switch to a lighter green tea or an Oolong tea. When green tea, it is often a Jasmine Pearl tea.
DRINK TEA … it’s good for you…