Loose leaf tea shop in Flushing or elsewhere in the Outer Boroughs?
Looking for a reasonably priced tea shop to buy loose leaf tea - specifically, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, jasmine tea, persimmon leaf tea, etc.
I'm willing to go anywhere in the outer boroughs but am assuming that Flushing (or maybe Elmhurst or Sunset Park) are my best bets due to the concentration of Chinese/East Asian businesses in those neighborhoods.
The shop doesn't have to be Chinese per se - any place will do as long as the selection and prices are great. In other words, I'm hoping to avoid the price markups at "yuppie" supermarkets and boutique grocers.
Are Chinese supermarkets my best bet? Any other suggestions?
FEI LONG supermarket in Brooklyn Chinatown (8th Avenue & 63rd Street) is a wild scene with a humongous variety of tea (and every other grocery item, fresh, preserved and otherwise). An eye-opener!
DAVID's TEA boutique recently opened in Park Slope (7th Avenue) and attracts a way different clientele, totally tea-focused.
This place in Greenpoint is in a really weird location but has a pretty good selection and seems pretty fancy. I don't know about prices but the fact that it is located on an abandoned back street might mean it's not in the yuppie category you mentioned.
Can you give an idea what level of price you consider reasonable?
You cannot beat a Chinese supermarket for cheap teas and Ten Ren (in both Flushing and Elmhurst) is a popular step-up. The real question is if you are willing to pay premium for quality. And I am not talking about a Teavana-scale (read, astronomical) markup on mediocre teas.
High-quality green teas are all refrigerated (Japanese style freeze-aged) because it's not the season. Hand-rolled Chinese oolongs can get pretty expensive too.
I like Fang Gourmet Tea in Flushing, but they are not very cheap. Definitely a step up from Ten Ren, but like Ten Ren they are focused on Taiwan teas (though not exclusively). As with other food items, you do pay a premium for the good stuff, but Fang (and other vendors) have some things that are in my price range, and some above.
I get my tea from many places, including by mail, but Fang is one of the best sources in the city....several good ones have closed over the years.
Right now, you are in luck because they are having one of their occasional Tea Expos around the corner from their shop, at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel. I'm sure you can sit down for a tasting for a few dollars and sample what they have to offer. Goes till Jan. 28.
No direct link to the Expo, but if you visit www.fangtea.com and click on "Events," that will take you to it.
Yes, I like that store too. I have been their loyal customer for over 5 years. Highly recommended! I wouldn't call them Taiwan-focused though: it's just that the owner is Taiwanese. The problem is that they can't compete on price with a Chinese supermarket, if that's OP's benchmark; but then again, their quality is on a totally different level.