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full leaf, loose leaf tea - where to buy?

trev80 Aug 5, 2008 10:23 AM

I'm new to the city and looking for a place to get the best full leaf and loose leaf teas in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


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  1. s
    Simon RE: trev80 Aug 5, 2008 10:43 AM

    i usually buy mine in Chinatown...there is the Ten Ren store on Mott, or Pearl River on Broadway/Grand, in their upstairs loft area...

    1. twiggles RE: trev80 Aug 5, 2008 10:58 AM

      I usually order online, but sometimes I'll go to Ten Ren in Chinatown, Porto Rico on Bleeker, McNulty's on Christopher st, and Fairways (they have a small selection). I think Zabars also sells loose tea by the pound. Whole Foods also sells loose tea by the pound, but it is pre-packaged and only one specific brand I think (can't remember the name...maybe Rishi?).

      2 Replies
      1. re: twiggles
        trev80 RE: twiggles Aug 5, 2008 11:01 AM

        It sounds like Ten Ren may be the best choice for what I'm looking for. I'm basically looking for the best I can find. Do they have full leaf?

        1. re: trev80
          twiggles RE: trev80 Aug 5, 2008 11:51 AM

          Yes, they have full leaf, many different grades. They specialize in Chinese teas.

      2. f
        Feaster18 RE: trev80 Aug 5, 2008 11:10 AM

        Try the T salon at Chelsea Market!

        1. c
          chargeorge RE: trev80 Aug 5, 2008 12:49 PM

          Kalustyans had some nice teas if I remember correctly, though tea isn't the primary focus.

          The tea bins were located upstairs.

          123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

          1. Miss Needle RE: trev80 Aug 5, 2008 12:59 PM

            The Tea Gallery


            1 Reply
            1. re: Miss Needle
              shaogo RE: Miss Needle Mar 6, 2009 10:52 AM

              McNulty's on Christopher St. is like taking a step back in time. The staff is extremely knowledgeable without being snobs. I'm a tea novice and they introduced me to a number of teas and coffees which were just right for me. I visit often just to enjoy the aromas and the atmosphere; it's like being in a turn-of-the-century coffee/tea monger's shop.

            2. Peter Cuce RE: trev80 Mar 6, 2009 02:35 PM

              Besides being a great place to enjoy a brewed tea, Amai Tea & Bake House has a great loose tea selection, some of which is from Itoen. It's on 3rd Ave just north of 16th St on the east side.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Peter Cuce
                thegirlnextdoor RE: Peter Cuce May 3, 2009 07:56 PM

                I read on Eater that Amai just closed. Sad. http://eater.com/archives/2009/04/the...

              2. u
                uwsgrazer RE: trev80 Mar 7, 2009 01:04 PM

                I'm not a big tea drinker but I recently heard someone rave about the teas sold at Takashimaya. Apparently very pricy, though

                1. u
                  uwsgrazer RE: trev80 Apr 23, 2009 07:57 PM

                  Here's another tea place. I've never been myself.

                  Radiance Tea - West 55th between 6th and 7th


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: uwsgrazer
                    twiggles RE: uwsgrazer Apr 24, 2009 11:42 AM

                    I went here with some co-workers today. it's a nice quiet place to sit and have a cup of tea and some light food. not sure if i'd make a trip to buy tea here, but they did have a descent selection of green teas and flowering teas for sale. but unless i missed something, it looks like it's just by the container, not by the pound. it was a nice (but a bit pricey) place to have a relaxing lunch.

                  2. c
                    comestible RE: trev80 Apr 23, 2009 09:56 PM

                    Tea Gallery for high-end Chinese teas, but call to confirm when open. If you must go to Ten Ren, your best options are not those in the impressively enormous tea canisters on the shelves, but the seasonal teas, as "Spring Tea," "Winter Tea," whatever's seasonal. Sold in canisters which hold vacuum-sealed bags for freshness, at about 3 different price/quality levels. Usually a low-to-medium oxidized (greenish) Taiwan oolong.

                    There's a good store in Flushing, Queens (Fang Gourmet Tea) on Roosevelt Ave., but it's a bit of a trek.

                    For Japanese tea, Ito En at Madison and 69th (I think).

                    1. v
                      vedelman RE: trev80 Apr 24, 2009 07:25 AM

                      it depends how "into" tea you are. If you are really into it - for example i really care about specific darjeeling estates, and typically shop for top grade dar, puer, and oolong - then none of the suggestions on this thread will make you happy. PR Coffee Co, McNulty's (huge disappointment), Teavana, sell mostly commercial grade non-origin specific teas. Some dress it up a bit (like teavana) others do not. But for the most part all of this tea is very sub-par, and you can get the same taste emptying out a bag of liptons into a teapot.

                      I have found one excellent place - Silver Tips tea room in Tarrytown (15 minutes north of manhattan) this carries a few very good teas - particularly the maikabari spring first flush darjeeling, and the jade oolong are really good. If you search their website - they have a lot of their teas listed. prices are great as well... worth the trip up.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: vedelman
                        Ike RE: vedelman Apr 28, 2009 12:08 PM

                        Vedelman said: "But for the most part all of this tea is very sub-par, and you can get the same taste emptying out a bag of liptons into a teapot."

                        That's not only a wild exaggeration but patently false. Lipton is VILE. Virtually any loose-leaf non-origin-specific tea is far better. Heck, Trader Joe's teabags taste far better, even if they're considerably weaker (since Lipton is disgustingly heavy and blunt, like a hammer to the face).

                        That said, thanks for pointing me to the Silver Tips site, which is very alluring, but I'm rarely up around Tarrytown and I like to smell my pricier teas before buying. I'm curious to know what you think of T Salon in Chelsea Market. I'm very impressed with the scent of their Earl Greys, but the prices seem a bit steep, coming to roughly $39/lb. I notice that even some of the Earl Greys at the Silver Tips site are cheaper than that.

                        1. re: Ike
                          vedelman RE: Ike May 3, 2009 01:53 PM

                          OK....I was exaggerating :) I have bought serviceable tea at the places listed, and its certainly better than Lipton, which I agree, is the tea equivalent of drinking Starbucks' burnt swill if you are into coffee.

                          One thing I liked about Silver Tips is that their prices are normal. Teavana, for example, is just offensive. I'm happy to spend on a quality tea - but trying to sell me Golden Monkey Assam for $60/pound (!!!) and insisting that it was "the best assam in the world" is not just wrong, its obnoxious...

                          I smelled the Earl Grey at Silver Tips - and it is good, I believe it is based on a white tea, so a little different than some that mix the bergamot into darjeeling for example (like teavana). The scent is a little more subtle than others I've smelled, so if you like your earl grey strong - this might be a bit light.

                          The tea's I've tried at Silver Tips are the Darjeeling (maikaibari), which was $4/ounce, and Jade Oolong at $8/ounce (and the most expensive on the menu). Their Ceylon was quite good as well, and very well priced at $2.50/ounce. If you were to buy those online - I would suspect you'd be happy, but I can't recommend the earl grey as i haven't tried it.

                          I've been to T Salon - its ok, but to your point - the prices are ridiculous. The same for that spot in Soho on W. Broadway (right off grand).

                        2. re: vedelman
                          diprey RE: vedelman May 2, 2009 10:53 AM

                          I would also recommend Lu Yu Tea @ Northern Blvd, between Main and Union St in Flushing. The store is at the basement level: not so easy to spot. I think the store might have an English sign, or you might want to look for something like 陸羽茶 on the curb sign.

                          They are same level of quality as Tea Gallery but with more emphasis on top-line Taiwanese teas.

                          @vedelman: They most certainly carry the HsinChu whitetip: no need to get out of town for that.

                        3. thegirlnextdoor RE: trev80 May 3, 2009 08:05 PM

                          My new favorite place for loose leaf teas (the only kind I'll drink) is Amanzi Tea in Tribeca. You can find a review on my blog. I second Ito-en for Japanese teas. Alice's Tea Cup and Teany have decent loose leaf selections as well. if you can't find what you're looking for in the city, Tea Guys is a great online resource: http://teaguys.com/


                          1. l
                            lydiafortea RE: trev80 Aug 10, 2009 06:05 PM

                            Suggest Kam Man on Canal St in Chinatown; the tea section is downstairs. Loose leaf teas at extremely fair prices. Check out the loose leaf teas in tins there too. Found Pouchong and Alishan from TenRenTea very disappointing, esp. at their prices. Fang Gourmet in Flushing has excellent high mountain teas but be prepared to pay. For more on prices, see my tea blog, www.readingthetealeaves.com. (I used to be a tea buyer for an importer.)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lydiafortea
                              twiggles RE: lydiafortea Aug 11, 2009 07:16 AM

                              I thought most of the teas at Kam Man were stored in glass jars, which is not good for the shelf life of the tea. am i remembering incorrectly?

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