Peet's Coffee & Tea: been to the store?
Tea in the stores is available loose in tins. I frequent both Oakland Peets and the original for coffee to brew as well as drink there. (I like being around beanhounds; many acquainances are made in Oakland.) They always have a pot of coffee and tea for sampling. This week, they have Gunpowder, a nice green tea that I realized would be great to have with my best friend who is always asking for black, which I never seem to have, and I'm trying to push her to have more green or white. I figured I'd ask about other green teas, and was offered to try free samples of whatever I wanted, and the very helpful clerk brewed three for me. They have a useful wheel to help make selections (of both tea and coffee) based on the key criteria. (Something like it is on their website too, but I can't get Firefox to load it.) I got a tin of Jasmine Downy Pearls that is the most delicious tea I've ever had. (To put that in perspective, I've had a lot of tea over the years, but mostly from mass-marketed companies available in supermarkets and health food stores. This is my first foray up the ladder, and my standards will now be much higher!) I've always appreciated how informative and patient the Peets staff is. Plus they have good biscotti and other tasty treats. If you like what you've gotten online, I think it's worth at least checking the store out.
Alfred Peet founded Peet's Coffee & Tea in 1966 in Berkeley, CA. The original store -- on the corner of Walnut & Vine -- is still there, about a mile or so from where I live. For years, Peet's was content to have a few stores in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco). (Others who weren't so inclined, left Peet's, headed to Seattle and founded Starbucks in 1971.) Within the past decade or so, they have expanded to Southern California and even as far away as Boston.
They roast their coffee darker than most, but not as dark/burnt (IMHO) as Starbucks. they still use "real" espresso machines instead of the robotic "superautomatics" that Starbucks now uses. All their coffees and teas are available for sale at the "bean" counter, and most of their teas are available freshly brewed to order at every store.
They are no longer my favorite source for my coffee beans, but they are significantly better (again, IMHO) than any other "chain" I've tried for espresso drinks.