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Feb 2, 2007 10:07 PM

Online Tea Merchants - Who Are You Ordering From And What?

Since there are so many teahounds on Chow, I thought I would start a new topic to see which online tea merchants people like and what they are ordering.

Here are the ones I have ordered from recently, or in the past, and my comments:

Teance - Ordered Competition Grade Baochong Oolong Tea Wen Shan and Honey Dan Chong Water Immortal Oolong Tea. Haven't tried the Honey Dan Chong yet. Hated the Competition Grade Baochong Oolong Tea - I found it very cloying. But I admit there was user error in ordering it - the description, which I didn't read closely enough, clearly said it was sweet and had overtones of gardenias and lilacs. I hate sweet and flowery teas, so I can't say I wasn't given fair warning. . .

I like the way Teance packages their teas in resealable foil bags and I like the way that each bag states the correct amount of tea to measure, the correct water temperature and the correct brewing time.

Red Blossom - Recently ordered Dragon Peal Jasmine Supreme and Heirloom Lisham - Spring Formosa Oolong. Haven't tried the Dragon Pearl yet. Liked the Heirloom Lishan - no sweet tones. Not sure if it the ultimate oolong of my dreams, but I did like it. Red Blossom doesn't package in resealable bags, so you have to transfer the tea to an airtight canister. No brewing directions on the bags.

Rishi Tea --
Ordered a number of Japanese teas from them recently. In the past, they have been a reliable source for Japanese teas and for darjeerling. All but one of the teas I ordered from Rishi recently have been good, but they are all blending together in my mind at the moment, except for the Ume Shiso green tea, which I hated (I thought the plum and shiso flavors overwhelmed the tea). I also ordered a bunch of teaware from Rishi that I love. I think Rishi has the best selection of Japanese teapots on the Web at an English-language site.

Upton Tea - I haven't ordered from them recently, but I plan to put in an order soon. I like the fact that they sell samples of tea so you can try a small amount before committing to a pricey tea and I like the fact that they let customers rate tea on their website (a la Amazon), so it gives you a little more information before ordering.

Ito En - I like their website in particular because you can sort teas by flavor characteristic (which allows you to avoid sweet teas - or to find them if that is the kind of tea you like). I get my matcha from Ito En and I like that they have a fairly wide selection of matcha and I have always found it to be good quality.

Todd & Holland - I just got their catalog in the mail, I think because I probably ordered from them in the distant past. The catalog looks like they have some interesting selections, but almost all of the tea is only sold in a minimum quantity of 4 oz (unlike many other merchants who sell samples or who allow 2 oz orders). Most of the teas that I was interested in were priced from $60 to $90. I am sorry, but I am just not going to spring $60-$90 for a tea that I have never tasted and that I am not sure I am even going to like. You would really think that at those prices, they would allow smaller orders. Has anyone ordered from them recently?

So where are you ordering your tea from?

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  1. I have never ordered online for tea so far. I did like the Nantou Oolong from In Pursuit of Tea when I picked up a small package at Whole Foods in NYC a while ago.

    Because of your post I went to their site for the first time. They have this tea club deal that sounds interesting. I'm thinking if I run out of tea in LA, I might order from them. I only browsed through but thought that there were good informations to be read ...

    1. i have ordered from some of these included todd & holland. however, i did know exactly what i wanted and was happy to pay for it at the time.

      1. I have ordered pre-Qing Ming Longjing from Todd-Holland in the past, because I knew Bill Todd personally travels to Hangzhou in the Spring to vet his sources. That was before I discovered Red Blossom Tea locally, one of whose principals does the same thing, and which offers the same grade of tea at a much lower price. Fortunately, I live a short stroll from their shop so don't have to go the mail order route.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gary Soup

          yeah i buy from red blossom too. good stuff. my current stash must last me another year before i can afford another shipment but yeah, good stuff.

          --i'm drinking a bag of the dragon pearl white tea from red blossom that a friend gave me to try. yum.

        2. I have ordered form Harney and Upton and I am strictly and English and Irish breakfast tea kinda guy. I am not really into other teas. I like my tea bold and strong and lots of oomph!

          10 Replies
          1. re: javaandjazz

            What are your favorite oomph! teas? Sounds like exactly what I crave in my breakfast teas...Please share....

            1. re: fauchon

              For my regular during the week work tea I like tetley british blend or a tea I get once in awhile when I see from England called LifeBoat(very strong). From Harney's and Upton I just got their losse English and Irish Breakfast Blends. I probably put too much tea in the pot but I prefer my tea very strong. I also like The Dublin Company Irish Breakfast tea(found at Stop & Shop and most stores. I also like a blend form Canada called Typhoo.

              1. re: javaandjazz

                We really should have a whole separate discussion for people who like strong black teas.

                Personally, I just can't get into green teas, white teas, etc. Great oolongs are wasted on me (I've tried them, just don't care for them).

                The tea I've enjoyed most was some Mariage Freres French Breakfast tea someone gave me. Damn, that's some good tea!

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Here is a source on the Internet where you can order Mariage Freres French Breakfast tea for $12:


                  You can also order French Breakfast tea for $75 (!) from Market Hall Foods in Oakland

                  For your $75, Market Hall Foods packages French Breakfast with something called The L'Opera (which is green tea flavored with vanilla - sounds absolutely dreadful IMHO) and something called Nil Rouge (which is caffeine-free and "lemony"). Apparently, French Breakfast is supposed to taste like chocolate.

                  Do you know how French Breakfast compares with a good cup of Assam? I occasionally like a bracing cup of Assam in the morning.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    All flavored teas are dreadful, IMHO. Almost as bad as flavored coffees.

                    1. re: omotosando

                      Thanks! That's the best price I've seen, so I ordered some.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Since this thread has been resurrected, I'll just laugh at my five-years-ago self. The five-years-later self drinks white tea almost every day. I don't know what I was referring to when I said I didn't like white tea, but jasmine silver needle is my regular morning beverage -- the very low caffeine level is perfect for Ms. Caffeine Sensitive!

                      I still don't like green tea (too vegetal) and great oolongs are still wasted on me. And I still like flavored black teas -- I just can't drink them very often because two cups in one morning will make me hyper, and one cup more then two days in a row will start disrupting my sleep patterns. So flavored black tea is a special treat!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        "I still don't like green tea (too vegetal)..."

                        Ruth, perhaps you would like some of the "light" green Chinese teas; they are low in caffeine as well. I might suggest a Long Jing or an An Ji Bai Cha. They do not have that "Japanese vegetal" thing going on and some of the Chinese greens are very interesting and distinct from one another. Brew them quickly and lower your stewing temperature.

                        You might also like a Roasting Sejak, a Korean green, from It has a lot of flavor and warmth, similar to a Hojicha (Japanese roasted tea), and it, too, is very light on the caffeine. You can sip this one at night!
                        _ _ _ _

                        Now I am editing my post here. I just saw upstream (five years ago!) that you like the Mariage Freres teas. Perhaps everything I said above is now useless; I am NOW thinking that you like more of a fragrant tea...perhaps with some pieces of fruit or flowers. If so, then what I have recommended will be too flat for you.

                        1. re: liu

                          I like scented teas, and sometimes tea with flowers. Fruit, not so much! Peach, mango -- yuck!

                          I pulled this thread back up because after back-tracking on not liking white tea, I now have to back-track a little on oolongs. I had a couple of Living Social vouchers to Aroma tea shop in San Francisco. I went in thinking I would just check out his white tea selection and buy some tea-ware, but after he did a tasting for us, ended up with one white tea and two oolongs (one unflavored, one with osmanthus flowers). I don't remember if I mentioned anywhere on this thread that I'm very sensitive to bitterness (as well as caffeine) but these were really, really smooth. Going in, my friend had said "we're really going to spend $80 on tea?" Uh, yeah, try $108!

              2. I order from several different places including:

                my favorite teas are baozhong,korean green tea, green oolongs
                i also enjoy scented teas from: