Loose-Leaf Tea: A Review of My Top Three Favourite Online Tea Shops
I’m not affiliated with any of the following merchants, except in that I buy most of my tea from them. I’ve had some marvellous teas from each of these, and I'd recommend any of them for quality of both tea and service. Bear in mind, though, that I haven’t tried every tea they sell, so do check out the customer reviews on their sites if you do want to order some loose-leaf tea.
So. All that said, what is the best place to buy tea from? These are the places I return to again and again:
Amazing Green Tea
Julian Tai, the site owner of 'Amazing Green Tea' and the man who sells these beautiful teas in partnership with family in China, knows his tea and his website is full of fantastic tips, tricks and knowledge. He sells only a relatively small number of varieties, but they are all carefully chosen and his descriptions of them are almost as uplifting as the tea itself.
I’ve been buying tea from this merchant for some time, and the quality has been consistently great. Tea orders have arrived within 10-14 days (although because of factors beyond the merchant’s control it can take up to 4 weeks), and postage and packing are free for orders over $50. You will also get a discount certificate for your next order if you spend more than $120, a discount that rises incrementally depending on how much you spend. The only small problem I’ve ever had is that the foil packages aren’t totally robust, and I did once have a pack with a small tear along the seam. But this has only happened once out of the dozens of packages I’ve had from here, and it did not affect the quality of the tea inside, which was as delicious as ever. Each tea description on the ‘Tea Shop’ page is clearly marked with the date of the harvest, so that you know you’re getting the freshest tea.
The tea itself truly is ‘amazing’: with clear fresh aromas and wonderful tastes. I’ve tried a dozen teas from this merchant, and I’ve never had one that I don’t like.
Be aware, though, that Julian’s teas are very high quality premium teas, and because of this they come with a price tag to match. You can expect to pay a bit extra for the tea, but you can also expect to be drinking some of the best tea you will ever taste.
In their own words, Teaspring is run by a 'group of tea-lovers', and they sell an impressively wide variety of teas. Like Amazing Green Teas above, these also sell high quality premium tea, and the prices reflect this, but their standards are well worth it.
Postage and packing is free on orders over $70, and mine have arrived within 2 weeks. Rather than straightforward ‘discounts’, you can collect points from this merchant depending on how much you order, and whether you leave a review of the teas you buy on the site. You can exchange your points for a variety of gifts, or for a discount on tea.
Their teas are quite special, and although the sheer number of different teas available can be bewildering, the description and brewing instructions for each variety of tea on the site is clear.
This is definitely a merchant to explore if you are feeling adventurous and you want to try a number of different high quality teas.
Canton Tea Co.
I can’t fault Canton’s teas, and I’ve had a number of different green and whites from them, all of which have been very lovely. Some of their teas are quite a bit less expensive than other high quality tea merchants, but I’ve not found that their quality is less than excellent. Their website is clear about the year of harvest of their teas, and some of their teas have won ‘Great Taste Awards’ from the Guild of Fine Food – a UK-based trade association.
This merchant ships very quickly – I’ve received tea from them the next day after placing an order. UK shipping is free on orders over £40. International shipping rates are dependent on country and the weight of the package, and although they aim to ship quickly, and despatch the order within a day or two, orders can take up to 30 days to arrive depending on the postal service and where in the world you live. The teas come in sturdy resealable foil pouches.
Canton sells both good quality single variety loose-leaf teas, and also a number of blends, tisanes, and flowering teas. Whilst I’m not a fan of the latter in general and prefer single variety teas, if you like to try other drinks Canton has an intriguing selection, including whole-flower chrysanthemum, chamomile, hibiscus, whole-leaf peppermint, and some herbal tisanes.
Links To These Fantastic Online Teashops
Huge variety of very high quality loose-leaf teas, run by a group of tea lovers.
- Canton Tea Co
Sells a variety of black, white, green, oolong and puerh teas, as well as tisanes and flowering teas.
- Amazing Green Tea
Small online teashop selling very high quality teas. Fantastic information on the site about all things 'tea'.