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Dec 16, 2006 06:01 PM

Anywhere to get really top notch whole leaf tea?

I mean where you can actually buy bags of tea and take them home. Where's the good stuff? I can't find it and I've been looking.

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  1. Where have you been looking?

    Tealuxe offends some as a Starbucks wannabe for faux tea snobs, but their roster of tea is extensive and of high quality.

    While we're on the subject of debatable Starbucks wannabes, Peets Coffee and Tea proffers a smaller selection than Tealuxe, but again, it's hard to find fault with the quality. I positively adore their Earl Grey with lavender, although they seldom carry it in-store anymore.

    As far as local places, a place called Tea Zone has opened up in Somerville, next to Tacos Lupita on Elm Street. I've not been yet.

    Dado Tea (2 Cambridge locations) always vaguely annoys me, particularly with their pricing (a large hot tea for over 2 bucks? Come on, it's not *that* good), but they've got the goods.

    I don't recall if Qingping in the South End sells their tea by the bag, but if rare and exotic teas are your thing, it's worth it regardless. The owner imports all the teas directly from China, including hard-to-find white and fermented variants.

    [Full disclosure: I love Peets, and am literally a card-carrying Starbucks fan.]

    1. i've not been there, and i'm not a tea connoisseur, but i have heard good things about cha fahn in jamaica plain.

      1 Reply
      1. re: autopi

        Cha Fahn is great, nice people, expensive but very good whole leaf teas. They also do a nice tea service, and they recently upgraded their kitchen to allow for a fuller menu. I haven't eaten there since the upgrade, but I have always enjoyed my food there.

      2. The best place to buy tea is online at Upton Tea in Westborough, MA. They are strictly an online store. I stopped in once to their warehouse in an industrial park and they were not really able to deal with a walk-in very well. Their website is great though. In addition to an amazing selection of teas from around the world, they have special teapots and infusers and other tea paraphernelia. Their website is

        4 Replies
        1. re: Wineack

          I am also a big fan of Upton Tea. They have a truly *huge* selection of top quality teas. I began purchasing from them when the Coffee Connection (which had a great tea selection) closed, back in '94.

          Even though they're mail order, they're located just west of Boston, (in Hopkinton, not Westborough, unless they've moved recently) so Ground Shipping should get anyone in the Boston area next day delivery.

          One of the nice things about Upton Tea is that you can buy sample sizes of their teas for a dollar or two, and try a lot of teas for a small amount of money. (Caveat: I think they limit the number of samples you can buy at Christmas time.)

          1. re: srgoodman

            Yeah, you are right, Hopkinton. I just had a brain cramp and picked the wrong 495 town.

          2. re: Wineack

            Agreed, you cannot do better than Upton Tea. My wife is Russian and VERY particular about tea. They offer unmatched selection and quality, and really care about their products. Every tea is shipped in airtight, resealable packets.

            They get my highest recommendation!

            1. re: Wineack

              Ditto. I've used Upton Tea for years, turnaround is as fast as Netflix, selection is amazing, website is packed with information but easy to use.

            2. Mark T Wendell in W. Concord has a great selection amd quality too.

              1. I just went to Tea Zone on Thursday night (after my first Lupita visit - where's that pork been all my life?!), and sniffed around. They had several whites, greens, reds and blacks (all the big names - silver needle, darjeeling); they had open jars for smelling and vacuum bags for selling. The guy politely let me browse as I wished but watched my every move, hoping to help (I was the only customer). I sniffed the black tea sample jar and he said, "smells too fruity, right? I had an herbal in that jar a few days ago." And he let me smell the big jar, which smelled as English Breakfast should. So he's paying enough attention to remember the jar mixup (yay), but he hadn't washed the fruity scent out of the jar (huh?).

                I didn't ask, but didn't see any quality identifiers such as "Orange Pekoe," "Tippy," etc. It all looked whole leaf to me.

                I did not buy anything, so can't vouch. The guy said they'd only been open for a month. I can't tell if it's a franchise, a chain or a sister, but the eponymous URL ( points to a store in Portland, OR with the very same logo.

                1 Reply
                1. re: enhF94

                  I've sampled a couple of the teas at Teazone and I think it's great value for the quality. While certainly not a place to score century old pu-erh, it's a good place to shop for day to day stuff that's of rather high quality.