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Loose-Leaf Tea: A Review of My Top Three Favourite Online Tea Shops

Updated on June 24, 2012
Clockwise from top left: Anji Bai Cha, Meng Ding Ganlu, and Baihao Yinzhen loose-leaf green and white teas
Clockwise from top left: Anji Bai Cha, Meng Ding Ganlu, and Baihao Yinzhen loose-leaf green and white teas | Source

Tea Heaven

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:

A pack of Silver Needle White Tea from Amazing Green Tea
A pack of Silver Needle White Tea from Amazing Green Tea | Source

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.

A pack of Teaspring's beautiful Meng Ding Ganlu Green Tea
A pack of Teaspring's beautiful Meng Ding Ganlu Green Tea | Source


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.'s Heavenly Anji Bai Cha Green Tea
Canton Tea Co.'s Heavenly Anji Bai Cha Green Tea | Source

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.


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    • wynnestudios profile image

      wynnestudios 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      I love tea, thanks for sharing and welcome to HubPages!

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 5 years ago

      Thanks wynnestudios, tea is indeed a very lovely drink :)

    • livingpah2004 profile image

      Milli 4 years ago from USA

      I love tea. Thanks for sharing it. Useful!

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Voted up, interesting and shared.

      I buy my tea from the grocer's. I'm waiting for a food fair.. hopefully, I'll find a good tea to brew.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 4 years ago

      Cheers livingpah2004 and beingwell. The food fairs where I live don't often have much of a selection of tea, I'd love to go to one that does, though, I'd be in tea heaven :)

    • James Peters profile image

      James Timothy Peters 4 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

      I respect your opinion about tea, because it's obvious you know what you're talking about!

      GREAT HUB!!

      Thumbs Up & More!

      Write On!

    • profile image

      Tom McGuire 3 years ago

      I also get my tea from one of the above, and agree it is excellent. I'm always cautious, however, and anything coming from China gives me pause. This is especially true of my provider, as he is in England, but the tea ships from personal quality control is largely out of the question. I know lesser teas from China have been found to be caked with pesticides (per a Greenpeace study). Have you gone to the trouble of testing some of the tea that you receive? I am tempted to do so for my provider. I can't help but think of the saying, "Trust, but verify." I am interested in your take.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 3 years ago

      Tom McGuire – it's an interesting and important (and unresolved) debate – Greenpeace has received quite a bit of attention in the last few years, and whilst I don't believe their detractors blindly, I don't take Greenpeace on trust either.

      Another tea website ( goes into depth about the Greenpeace pesticides findings – it's worth a read and points out that many of the tested teas were below the maximum allowed residue levels by EU law, some were above allowed levels, but none of the tested teas were actually intended for export.

      I don't have the equipment to test teas for toxins, so I can only look at the research and any reviews of the research, and the scientific standing, arguments, reputation, and commercial or political interests of any organisations and people involved.

      For an informal but realistic discussion of China's farming practices, this might be worth a read - - basically they say that there are good and bad practices, good and bad companies, just as there are in any other country or industry.

      It's interesting that Greenpeace tested only medium-grade teas intended for consumption only in China. For high-grade ones (like the ones from the vendors I buy from), I'd guess that production and farming standards are much higher – they have much more to lose. I'd question why Greenpeace did not test a wider cross-section of teas – different grades, and teas intended for export as well as the lower-grade ones that were not intended for export.

      Exporting produce means that the produce has to conform to the laws of the receiving country – and reputable companies are unlikely to risk export of inferior quality, especially where there are potential health risks. Checking out the reputability of a company might include number of years of operation, which country they operate from and are registered in (and therefore the laws they conform to, checked by official audit), and their business methods, certificates and so on. Some of these things can be faked, but it gets to the point where honest and genuine business becomes less expensive and risky than faking it.

      I personally don't have any qualms about drinking high-grade teas from the merchants I buy from; I drink a lot of green, white, black and oolong teas and I buy the best that I can afford. If you (or anyone else reading this) have any doubts, I'd say to find a tea merchant that sells teas with a certificate of organic farming practices – I know that sells a number of teas that have been certified organic by US, EU and Japanese standards, and a lot of tea merchants usually sell at least a couple of organic-certified teas – look for the 'organic' section of a merchant's website.

    • profile image

      Ona 24 months ago

      I took the plunge with Amazing Green Tea. I once had a Dragonwell that exceeded all others by a mile. I'd purchased it from Tisane in Hartford, CT. I bought another pouch, intending to make it my everyday tea. Unfortunately when that second pouch ran out, they'd exhausted their supply, and their supplier was out of business. I'd like to renew my quest for a great, chesnutty Dragonwell, and try a few other greens, whites and oolongs.

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