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Dec 11, 2010 06:12 PM

ISO Loose Teas in Boston Area

I want to make some Russian Caravan Tea to last through the winter. Years ago I used to get it at Fortnum & Masons and I suspect that some shops in Boston may carry their cans, but I think it would be better and fresher if I made it myself.

The recipe found on line recommends 1 part lapsang souchong, 1 part black tea,and 2 parts oolong tea. A good black tea would be Qimen (also spelled "Keemun"), but Assam or Ceylon would also do.

I believe that Christina in Inman Square carries loose teas, but are there any other shops deserving of a visit?

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  1. I don't see why it would make any difference whether you mix the teas yourself or not, but either way here are some suggestions:

    - Order on-line from Upton Tea Company or take an hour-long drive out to Holliston Massachusetts. They are probably the best tea importer in the country.

    - Talk to Cynthia Gold at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston.

    - Order on-line or take a trip out to Mark T. Wendell in Concord.

    - Many speciality food stores, notably Cardullo's, Formaggio Kitchen, and the Gourmet Boutique in Copley stock some very high quality loose teas.

    - Avoid Mem Tea and Teavana like the plague.

    - Personally, I am not a fan of Tealuxe, TeaZone in Somerville, or Whittard of Chelsea on Newbury St in Boston, but they have their fans, and certainly have loose tea.

    Formaggio Kitchen
    244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

    9 Replies
    1. re: lipoff

      i second Upton tea though i do not think that i would even have a second choice; for me, Upton is the only choice. Of course, i do not consider myself an expert on tea though i drink it daily.

      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

        I think Upton Tea Imports is the best place to buy tea in the United States. But Chowhound is all about choice, and even Upton doesn't have every variety of tea.

        And sorry for erroneously suggesting a trip to Holliston. I've never been there in person, but I've ordered from them by mail order many times.

        Upton Tea Imports
        34 Hayden Rowe St, Hopkinton, MA

      2. re: lipoff

        I am surprised to see you suggest a trip to Holliston to buy at Upton Tea. For some reason I thought they did not have a retail storefront and that the only way to purchase from them was over the Internet/via mail order. If they DO have a storefront, that would certainly be worth a field trip!

        1. re: PinchOfSalt

          I order from Upton but I note that some people like Harney and they always have a free shipping christmas sale on line. I also like trying tea from Baza, the Russian market, and from Super 88, because they carry interesting (mostly tea bags) stuff that I can try for not much money. In the tea bag category I'm currently enamored of Hibiscus tea from super 88. Upton's carries a very nice Russian Caravan.

          30 Tower Road, Newton, MA 02464

          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            Upton's website specifically states NOT to visit their store since it is not zoned for commercial traffic.

          2. re: lipoff

            Mark Wendall's company has moved to Acton:

            14-A Craig Road, Acton, Massachusetts 01720


            1. re: lipoff

              I disagree about Mem Tea. Teavana is a total ripoff with lots of crap teas, but I've always found Mem Tea to be of excellent quality. Love it! They are very nice people to deal with, too.

              1. re: MangiaMuse

                I am a recent Mem tea convert after having some at B&G on a cold day....After exploring their website, I realized that the bulk tea sold at Whole Foods at INK Block (and maybe others, I'm not sure) is theirs, and I've been exploring different varieties...I realize this thread is 5 years old, but hey, I wanted to give a Mem tea shout-out...

                1. re: galleygirl

                  I've had MEM teas at various restaurants that serve them, and agree that they are good. I remain an Upton loyalist for my own home use, with this exception: MEM's chai blend is FAR superior to Upton's, spicy and strong with a nice black pepper bite.

            2. Well, within "Boston", I think TeaZone is the best and I'm happy to buy his Chinese teas, the whites in particular, although any of his Chinese teas are good. Wen is interesting to talk to, and his family has tea farms in China. He REALLY understands Chinese tea, it's amazing. His Japanese selections are ok, but I prefer tea places in NY or get some from Japan. I love the way he makes Rooibos by the cup at the store, he uses condensed milk, which is just brilliant.

              I have never tried Upton, I'm curious, why do you guys like it so much?

              3 Replies
              1. re: tatsu

                Second teazone. The guy is awfully nice and knows his stuff about tea. If you go in with your idea in mind he'll totally help you out.

                1. re: yumyum

                  i haven't tried teazone and I will. I like Upton because i've ordered tea and it's been good quality. Their catalogue is extremely wideranging. Their teas come dated. They are very generous: everytime I've ordered I've received several free samples and enjoyed trying them. Many teas come with instructions as to temperature and timing so I learn something. And the catalogue is fun to read.

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    Well a catalogue would be a nice throwback to olden days. I have never gotten out of TeaZone without numerous packets of generous samples by the way. They litter my desk for days while I try them all out! If he doesn't offer them to you in chit-chat, I'm sure he'd happily oblige if you simply asked.

                    I'd really like something resembling Mariage Frères Earl Grey with Blue Flowers. That is one terrific tea, and while I had other Lavender Earl Grey, nothing has come close to the Mariage Frères version.

              2. I'd also suggest a trip to Cardullos to pick up some loose Harney & Sons tea.

                1. I'm also an Upton's fan, but if you want to go to an actual shop, the original Capone Foods in Union Sq., Somerville has a small but good selection. I think I recall seeing some sort of Russian tea blend there but I may be mistaken - you could give them a call.

                  I rarely get to their Cambridge outlet, don't know if they carry loose teas also.

                  Capone Foods
                  14 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143