Tea supplier comparison

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Earl Lemongrab
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Tea supplier comparison

Post by Earl Lemongrab »

A while back, I started having an afternoon cup of tea. Originally this was Bigelow Earl Grey, because that's what I liked best of the ones from the galley operation at work. At one point someone brought in some Oolong tea, which I liked quite a bit as well. When I retired, I bought both types from Bigelow and have been alternating.

I had heard good things about Twinings, so when theirs were on sale I bought a box of each. I was a bit disappointed, especially with the Oolong. I like my tea strong. I generally brew 4 minutes. The Oolong is noticeably weaker than the Bigelow. The Earl Grey not as much although to a degree.

What are other's experience with commercial teas?
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by jabberwockOG »

3 suppliers we use regularly are American Tea Room, Whispering Pines Tea, and White2Tea. All three provide very high quality teas that while not inexpensive, are a level of magnitude, at a minimum, better in quality than the teas available from most typical commercial vendors and grocery stores.
Last edited by jabberwockOG on Sun May 06, 2018 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
trees
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by trees »

Find a supplier of loose leaf tea (or satchets that have loose leaf). Tea bags from places like Twinings tend to have leftover bits, so are generally much less flavorful and delicious as compared to loose leaf. Harney and Sons is one supplier that I like, but I also tend to drink green teas so don't know what their Oolong is like.
KlangFool
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by KlangFool »

Earl Lemongrab wrote: Sun May 06, 2018 2:50 pm A while back, I started having an afternoon cup of tea. Originally this was Bigelow Earl Grey, because that's what I liked best of the ones from the galley operation at work. At one point someone brought in some Oolong tea, which I liked quite a bit as well. When I retired, I bought both types from Bigelow and have been alternating.

I had heard good things about Twinings, so when theirs were on sale I bought a box of each. I was a bit disappointed, especially with the Oolong. I like my tea strong. I generally brew 4 minutes. The Oolong is noticeably weaker than the Bigelow. The Earl Grey not as much although to a degree.

What are other's experience with commercial teas?
Earl Lemongrab,

Come on. Loose leaves teas are a lot better and they are cheaper than those low-quality tea bags. Check out Upton tea.

http://www.uptontea.com/

KlangFool
Silk McCue
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Silk McCue »

Harney and Sons has excellent quality teas. Check out their website at https://www.harney.com/. With Mother's Day coming up they of course have a sale that you could take advantage of.

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drk
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by drk »

Since you're retired, I'm assuming that you have more free time. It might be an interesting (and delicious) diversion to find a local tea shop, or even a bulk foods store with an attentive selection of loose leaf teas.
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triceratop
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by triceratop »

I no longer drink tea steeped from teabags. I prefer loose leaf tea; it almost doesn't matter where you buy it (but of course, it actually does), it will be vastly superior to teabags.

I drink looseleaf Earl Grey, Green, and Oolong. The loose Oolong in particular is incomparable to that from a bag.

It looks like everyone chiming in is anti-teabag. There is a reason for that. :wink:
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TeamArgo
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by TeamArgo »

I purchased some "Builder's" tea from Amazon a year or so ago, and I have never looked back. It is a very basic tea bag that the lower to middle class British often use for a "cuppa". It is quite strong and has a tendency toward turning bitter if you brew it too long, so I never let it go over a minute in the hot water. Even just that produces a strong cup.
Try looking it up on Wikipedia, and if you like what you see, give it a try. Eighty bags go for less than $20.
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c.coyle
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by c.coyle »

My preference is loose tea from https://www.arborteas.com/. Not the cheapest, but I loves my tea.
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ikowik
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by ikowik »

I second the recommendation for Upton Tea. Quality of loose leaf tea is much better than what one can get from even the best teabags- I have tried. Of course, once you start down that road, there is temptation to be serious, and end up buying infusers ( a good quality one is essential for loose leaf tea. Finum is a recommended brand); shipping costs have to be considered as well. But even with all that, going the loose leaf tea route is best.
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bertilak
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by bertilak »

ikowik wrote: Sun May 06, 2018 4:48 pm I second the recommendation for Upton Tea.
I'll second that second. HUGE selection of lose leaf teas. also some educational material to help you understand it all.

https://secure.uptontea.com/store/home.asp

Their Tea Quarterly/Catalog is available online: https://www.uptontea.com/tea-quarterly/a/tea_quarterly/ (with some back issues too).
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rudeboy
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by rudeboy »

Adagio Teas is an online retailer I would recommend and have used for several years, although I seem to be moving in the opposite direction of most and have been mostly drinking cheap grocery store tea recently. :confused
epictetus
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by epictetus »

My wife enjoys tea from Marketspice in Seattle

https://www.marketspice.com/

she likes their Signature tea (Everything cinnamon- orange)

they have lots of options.

we order directly from them. some of their products are available through Amazon but we have found they are not as fresh as ordering directly from them.

they are very easy to work with.
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Nicolas »

Palais des Thès of Paris: https://us.palaisdesthes.com/en_us/

Also Mariage Frères of Paris. They have a very nice tea room there as well. Upstairs is a tea museum. https://www.mariagefreres.com/UK/welcome.html

Stateside I recommend Tea Source. https://www.teasource.com
Last edited by Nicolas on Sun May 06, 2018 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bhsince87
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by bhsince87 »

I'm a fan of raw pu'erh tea. I've been buying directly from China from this place for a long time. They have blacks and oolongs too. I've never been disappointed!


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MJS
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by MJS »

Another Upton's fan. Their infusers & filters are good quality - http://www.uptontea.com/teaware-accesso ... s-filters/

For a variation on Earl Grey, try Upton's Saint Isaac's Blend. And their range of oolongs is amazing.
WhyNotUs
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by WhyNotUs »

Another big Uptons fan. I drink a lot of tea and was involved in setting up a tea house for a client. They have quality teas at good prices.

If you want to make the leap from grocery store tea to loose leaf, a couple things will be helpful
• A supplier- Uptons for me
• A brewing approach- my choice is the Ingenuitea made by Adagio
• A watch or timer- many delicious teas can be yucky if left too long or lifeless if too soon- White Tea for example are very sensitive but delicious when brewed properly
• A meat thermometer or similar to check the temperature that you are getting from boiling water or to test how long to cool before using

A tea bag is a much simpler approach for most people but if you really enjoy tea, then loose leaf is the way to go. Most of the tea drank in the US is in the form of iced tea and most of the hot tea is in the form of tea bags from grocery stores and most of those drinkers are seemingly happy so if all of this sounds over the top, you are normal. :D
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SittingOnTheFence
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by SittingOnTheFence »

Twinings English Breakfast loose in the tin is my preference.
PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by PhilosophyAndrew »

I love several of Adagio’s higher-end “Master’s” teas. I can seep the leaves four or five times, which makes the price per cup a modest luxury.

http://www.adagio.com/masters/


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Pajamas
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Pajamas »

Earl Lemongrab wrote: Sun May 06, 2018 2:50 pm Bigelow Earl Grey
If you like Earl Grey, get some bergamot essential oil from Amazon or elsewhere and add it to black tea when you brew it. That way you can make it as strong as you like and can use it with better quality tea, with decaf, etc.
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SimpleGift
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by SimpleGift »

Twinings English Breakfast — in individual tea bags, sealed in foil, purchased in boxes of 100 at our local import store.

Obviously I'm not a tea connoisseur, but do drink it avidly every day (embarrassed to say how many cups) — and I highly value the convenience of the tea bag over the bother and mess of brewing loose tea.

To paraphrase the good Rev. Sydney Smith (1771-1845), "I am glad I was not born before tea (bags)!"
Johnbirdwatcher
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Johnbirdwatcher »

Has anyone tried California Tea House:
https://www.californiateahouse.com/
if you're up for buying tea online? I've heard good things about their organic green tea, but I'm typically a see it before I buy it sort of person. These days I'm venturing into online shopping with all the social distancing going on!
shelanman
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by shelanman »

At one time, I thought of myself as a tea snob. Anyway, I was really in to all sorts of fancy loose-leaf teas.

I still enjoy them, but I have also found that some of the commercial brands make stuff that I enjoy, and I now enjoy them guilt-free.

From Bigelow, I like "Constant Comment", which has a little spice in it. But, if you brew it more than the 2-3 minutes they recommend, it gets very bitter

For Earl Grey, I really like Stash Tea Company's. Their Earl Grey is very slightly fruitier than everyone else's, and I find it quite pleasant.

For Oolong tea, I don't drink it much anymore, but used to be partial to Yamamotoyama.

If you've never tried it, also get yourself a package of Yamamotoyama's genmaicha as well. This is a green tea with toasted rice in it. It has a slightly nutty flavor.
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

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sixtyforty
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by sixtyforty »

I get most of my tea from here... https://www.arborteas.com/

Their tea is all organic and reasonably priced. My main tea is Oolong (TKY). I rarely use tea bags. My setup with loose leaf is simple and easy.
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CAsage
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by CAsage »

I like a milder black tea, Twinings Prince of Wales. Amazon! The most important thing is to get a basket tea infuser, not one of those undersized spoon or walnut sized things that don't let the tea leaves really expand and flow.... I like the ones that fit over the top of the mug, and of course always pre-heat your mug with some hot water, dump and then add the tea and fresh hot water!
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frequentT
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by frequentT »

On Amazon I have bought one pound bags of both of these. Both good.

Davidson's Tea Bulk, Organic Assam Banaspaty Estate Tea 1 Pound Bag

Positively Tea Company, Organic English Breakfast Black Tea, Loose Leaf, USDA Organic, 1 Pound Bag

Both arrived very fresh and aromatic. So, I would recommend either.
Quaestner
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Quaestner »

[/quote]
Earl Lemongrab,

Come on. Loose leaves teas are a lot better and they are cheaper than those low-quality tea bags. Check out Upton tea.

http://www.uptontea.com/

KlangFool
[/quote]

An earlier KlangFool post turned me on to Upton Tea. (Thank you!) I'm a beginner on my path to becoming a tea snob, and I enjoy drinking a variety of new teas. Upton makes that easy with their various "samplers". Someday I'll winnow down to some favorites - but there so much to try!
Mudpuppy
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Mudpuppy »

As several others have already replied, I buy loose leaf teas from Harney & Sons and a few other companies. If I use tea bags, I only use brands with paper tea bags like Republic of Tea.

I also have an electric tea kettle that can brew up to 1.2L of tea at a time using a very large infuser. Brand is not too important here, but you do want to get one with temperature controls so you can set the right water temperature for the tea you are brewing. Time and temperature are important in flavor.

My current go-to morning tea is a modified Persian tea using the chocolate mint black tea from Harney & Sons. My tea kettle lets me brew for 10 minutes at the set temperature, then an additional hour at the "keep warm" temperature (around 150-160F). I brew my tea for that entire hour and 10 minutes, sometimes longer (the mint gets stronger with time). This creates a very dark, concentrated tea. I then dilute it with water to taste, which for me is usually about 1/4 water and 3/4 tea.

This method only works well with a high quality black tea, as a low quality tea will just get too bitter with such a long brewing time.
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by cheesepep »

Some tea buying/making tips:

1) Buy loose tea when available. They are made from the leaves of the tea plant. Tea from tea bags are usually (or mostly) made from tea made from the stems of the tea plant.
2) Choose your tea bag carefully. Even if buying pre-bagged tea such as Twinnings or some other brand, tea bags made from paper is better than plastic. Micro plastics will be in your tea when you drink your HOT tea.
3) Tea comes from the tea plant (yes, I don't know the scientific or real name) and not some "herbal tea" made from flowers and fruit infused.
4) If you buy tea, especially oolong tea, get the "high mountain" variety. This means tea picked and grown from the high mountains instead of the low mountains or tea grown near the roads. This means less pollution in your tea and a better tea.
5) When making fresh tea for the first time using tea leaves, boil water and pour in a tea pot with tea leaves. Throw out the water after a few seconds and add more water. Let steep for a few mins and enjoy. This will clean your tea.
6) I prefer pu-er tea, which is fermented tea. Just my preference.
life in slices
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by life in slices »

Great thread! I will have to check out some of the other vendors mentioned

I have bought most of my loose leaf teas for a decade or so from the republic of tea
https://www.republicoftea.com/
Very nice quality teas - my favorites at the moment from them (green teas) is Dragon Well and a Korean Woojean

Have bought some samplers of very high end green tea at heavenly tea - very good quality
https://www.heavenlytealeaves.com/

I received the following book for my recent birthday if any one want a reference/coffee table book on tea:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1465436065
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midareff
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by midareff »

I've had excellent results with www.teaspring.com with many varieties and specialties not available in the US.
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Stormbringer47
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Stormbringer47 »

Earl Lemongrab wrote: Sun May 06, 2018 2:50 pm What are other's experience with commercial teas?
First Time Poster . . . Greetings everyone.

My family and I have been drinking loose leaf tea for 20 years. I think Upton's is a great source for ALL varieties of teas. Their Quality & selection is terrific, especially if you're into all types of tea. I have purchased a lot from The English Tea Store as well. https://www.englishteastore.com. It's an American company that sells online. They carry many branded teas as well as their own line. Their straightup organic Assam is our family's favorite. They have a bunch of British foods as well. I am a big Yorkshire Red (Taylors of Harrogate) loose leaf fan. Good strong morning tea. Hits the spot, gets me going. I also drink a lot of loose leaf Green tea in the evenings as well. Mostly Gunpowder green or Dragonwell. I've tried a lot of other purveyors and there are a lot of choices. Drink what you like. I'll try some of the one's recommended on this thread as well. I haven't heard of some of them.

[link fixed by admin LadyGeek]

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Silk McCue
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Silk McCue »

Stormbringer47 wrote: Tue May 19, 2020 10:07 am
First Time Poster . . . Greetings everyone.
Welcome to Bogleheads!

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cherijoh
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by cherijoh »

trees wrote: Sun May 06, 2018 2:57 pm Find a supplier of loose leaf tea (or satchets that have loose leaf). Tea bags from places like Twinings tend to have leftover bits, so are generally much less flavorful and delicious as compared to loose leaf. Harney and Sons is one supplier that I like, but I also tend to drink green teas so don't know what their Oolong is like.
A friend surprised me with a sampler box of tea bags from Harney & Sons. It has 4 tea bags each of 15 different varieties - a mix of herbal, green, and black tees. I have also previously purchased Harney & Sons tins with the sachets. Surprisingly I found the tins at our local Target. I'm also a green tea or herbal tea drinker so I can't advise about oolong.
protagonist
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by protagonist »

Big tea drinker here.

For a long time I have used Upton's and Adagio. Both have a very large selection and you can't go too far wrong with their teas.
Recently I have branched out to:
Vahdam Teas...they have a great selection of Darjeelings at reasonable prices for good Darjeelings. I also got a masala chai from them that is quite good.
Mandala Tea: Got a milk oolong from them. I can't compare with others because it is the first milk oolong I have purchased but I do really like it a lot. Expensive, but milk oolong is always expensive.
Alvin's Teas and Coffees: Their Persian Choice Earl Grey is very reasonably priced and compares well with other earl grey teas I have had.
Teavivre: I ordered jasmine dragon pearls and lapsang souchong from them based on excellent reviews, but ordered them in mid-March and still have not received the tea. I found out after ordering that they ship from China, and they keep telling me the tea is hung up in US customs (which may be the case, though after 2 months of waiting I will shortly contact the credit card company and ask for a refund if they cannot confirm).
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chickadee
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by chickadee »

OP, I could have written this query. Except, I have graduated to loose teas.

I recently purchased several new teas from Upton Teas, thanks to an earlier thread. https://www.uptontea.com/

Brewed up at 4 minutes, I also felt that they were quite weak.

I had been enjoying some similar tea purchased from McNulty's Tea and Coffee Co in the West Village NYC (since 1895!) that brewed up stronger. Since they were closed for coronavirus (now reopened) I tried Upton. https://mcnultys.com

But really, I suppose teas are infinitely varied and comparisons shouldn't be made.

I also purchase from a local tea shop if you're interested in yet another purveyor of tea, check out https://zhitea.com
rk6
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by rk6 »

Twinings Golden Assam is what you want. Rare to find in the US.
Normally can only be purchased in Asia, it is specially made for that market.
Try poking around on Amazon or its global cousins.
BrooklynInvest
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by BrooklynInvest »

Born and raised in England so I feel qualified too answer with some degree of authority ;-)

In our house the brand of choice is Yorkshire Tea, available on Amazon. Strong, flavorful and uncomplicated. Their decaf aint bad.
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ladders11
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by ladders11 »

All kinds from Stash tea, Portland OR
ArchTiger
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by ArchTiger »

Fan, also, of The English Tea Store. Certainly appreciate the many tea ideas listed here. Rarely have reason to complain about any cup I have had.
rgs92
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by rgs92 »

Stash is good. Not too acidic or tannic.
Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Wilderness Librarian »

I will have to try some of the above.

For many years I have relied on Murchies in Vancouver BC for loose by pound or half pound - also like their special Christmas blend. When in Seattle go to Perennial Tea Room in the Pike Street Market & in Washington DC to Teaism. Mail order is available from all three of these places.
protagonist
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by protagonist »

One other comment....
I have found that the smaller loose tea providers , in general, are far superior to the larger corporate providers.
If they sell it in supermarkets, you can probably do better than that , and you may or may not wind up paying more. (you probably will, but sometimes not).
protagonist
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by protagonist »

duplicate...sorry
Last edited by protagonist on Wed May 27, 2020 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
biscuits
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by biscuits »

I, too, love Earl Grey, and have loved many different Earl Greys, but, for my taste nothing compares with Lavender Grey from tea-o-graphy in Taos, New Mexico. It is rich, silky, aromatic, and layered with flavours. Contents are: organic black tea + organic orange peel + organic dutch lavender + organic indian vanilla bean + oil of bergamot.

https://www.tea-o-graphy.com

This tea is not cheap, but any tea is cheaper than lots of other lovely beverages. For fun any time, but especially when sticking close to home, join tea-o-graphy's tea of the month club, and get a fetching little package every month containing a selection of teas. Membership gives you the perk of ordering any tea by the pound with a 40% discount. (Yes, I order that Lavender Grey by the pound.) I also love the Honeybush Lavender for an herbal iced tea, and many others too.

This is a small business started a few years ago by a young woman who blends the teas. She is delightful to deal with, too.
tea_pirate
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by tea_pirate »

protagonist wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 5:39 pm One other comment....
I have found that the smaller loose tea providers , in general, are far superior to the larger corporate providers.
If they sell it in supermarkets, you can probably do better than that , and you may or may not wind up paying more. (you probably will, but sometimes not, and a few ounces of loose tea goes a long way.)
I agree that smaller is better. I used to be a big Harney & Sons fan, but their quality just went too far downhill as their products started showing up at supermarkets across the northeast. I started noticing huge inconsistencies from batch to batch in their flavored teas. They stopped providing harvest dates for their unflavored teas and some of them tasted rather stale. Not a good look when you've paid $150+ per pound.
jajlrajrf
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by jajlrajrf »

I agree with KlangFool - Upton Tea is incomparable.
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Chrono Triggered
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by Chrono Triggered »

I purchase from Yunnan Sourcing and I've been very pleased.
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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Tea supplier comparison

Post by JAZZISCOOL »

Loose leaf tea advice needed

I drink a lot of tea and usually use tea bags. However, it seems that the BH tea connoisseurs tend to prefer loose leaf. I've tried it a few times and it seems messier and takes a bit longer to make, but I'm trying to learn more about how to make a better cup. I tend to like it strong.

That said, I may not have the right tea "equipment". I have a tea ball which is a little fussy and hard to open. I have also used a little metal strainer.

Can anyone recommend specific tea pots or single cups with strainers they like and are fairly quick? I would probably drink more loose leaf tea if it I could make it more efficiently. I've looked on Amazon before but, frankly, am not sure I can trust the reviews.

Thanks! ☕
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