Going Digital for the Ultimate Brew:
How to Find the Best Online Tea Stores
We will freely admit that we weren’t always the tea connoisseurs that we are today. In fact, we grew up on the same low-quality store-brand teas that most people drink on a daily basis.
However, as our palates expanded, we realized how limited our local options were. So, after an extensive search, we came to the conclusion that we would need to start buying tea online.
We were quick to learn, though, that not all online tea stores maintain the same standards. While some truly broadened our horizons, others were no better than the brews that we found in grocery stores.
It was this awareness that set us off on our quest to find the best online tea shops. And now that we have been successful, we can share our findings with you!
How to Find the Best Tea Online
Now, before we reveal our favorite tea websites, we will give you a little lesson on how to select the best online stores. This knowledge should come in handy if you ever decide to do your online search for tea stores.
Stick with Smaller Stores
These days, most familiar tea companies have online stores. Here, you will often find a greater variety of teas. These tend to be a step up from what you find on the shelves of your grocery store.
So, does this mean that these are good-quality teas?
Well, not quite. See, bigger tea companies such as Lipton, Bigelow, and Celestial Seasonings sell tens of millions of dollars’ worth of tea each year.
Thus, to keep up with the demand, these brands have to mass-produce their tea. Naturally, this means that there isn’t as much attention paid to the quality of the tea.
You will be much better off looking for specialty tea shops online. These are smaller stores and aren’t as well known. Not to mention, their stock of tea may be more limited than what you are used to.
However, this means that the store is able to focus on every aspect of the tea that it stocks up on. As such, you are much more likely to end up with a higher quality of tea.
Do Your Research
These niche online tea stores are aware that they are selling to a more discerning clientele. As such, they make more of an effort to buy the best possible tea.
Nevertheless, you should always research a store’s tea sources before making a purchase. You will be surprised at just how many places around the world actually grow and sell tea.
Only a few, select regions actually sell high-quality tea. These include places such as China, India, Sri Lanka (Ceylon tea), Japan, and Taiwan (Formosa tea).
In many cases, the store will mention all the information associated with their tea on the website. If these details aren’t available or if you would like more evidence, make sure to contact the owner or manager directly.
Shop Around for What You Want
As mentioned, niche online tea stores don’t often carry a great deal of variety. This is because they prefer to focus on only certain types of teas.
A limited range shouldn’t dissuade you from a particular online shop, though. Instead, shop around for what you need at different sites.
For instance, some online stores will carry all kinds of high-quality, rare oolong tea leaves but be lacking in the green tea department.
In this case, you should simply buy oolong teas from this particular site and look elsewhere for your green teas.
Don’t Be Surprised at Costs
The first time we looked around at niche stores, we were shocked at some of the quoted prices.
This is something you will need to come to terms with. These teas are carefully grown, processed, and are often quite fresh.
Due to this, you will be expected to pay a premium price, although this isn’t always so. It is best not to balk at the price tag, however.
At the end of the day, you are investing your money well. Still, you may want to do some price comparisons just to make sure you aren’t paying too much.
If you are still developing your palate, it doesn’t make sense to spend a great deal of money if you can’t appreciate the difference as yet.
Look for Stores That Offer Samples
Naturally, one of the downsides of shopping for tea online is that you don’t get to taste test the leaves. Instead, you have to make a purchase based on reviews or your gut feeling.
As you can imagine, such a tactic can make it difficult to find the best place to buy tea online. Not to mention, since these niche tea sites tend to be costlier, you can’t really afford to make a mistake.
This is why you may want to check out sites that offer samples of their tea. You can then get an idea of what a particular type or strain will taste like and place your order based on this conclusion.
Be aware that you will have to pay for these samples. However, when you compare the costs to that of the larger orders, you will still be able to save some money.
Be Prepared to Make Some Concessions
When you buy commercial tea brands, you don’t have to worry about them really running out. They tend to be available whenever you need them.
This isn’t always the case when you order tea online. Since these tea sites carry rarer tea types and don’t cater to a large customer base, they keep rather small stocks.
Thus, it isn’t uncommon for them to run out of stock. What this means is that you can’t wait until the last moment to restock your own tea supply.
In many instances, you have to place the order while the tea is still available. Otherwise, there is no guarantee of how long you will have to wait.
Last but not least, since you are shopping online, shipping does become a concern. So, always check the shipping destinations and policies when selecting a particular store. These can vary quite a bit.
You should also be mindful of the fact that you may have to wait quite a while for teas that are shipped from international destinations.
Thus, always do research on how the store is planning to keep your tea fresh until it reaches you. This way, you can be certain that you will be receiving exactly what you paid for.
The Best Online Tea Store
Now, let’s move onto the main event – figuring out where to buy tea online. On this note, here are the top places to look for your favorite types of tea.
Based in San Francisco, this is a progressive tea spot that has established quite a name for itself. Its online store isn’t too shabby either. What makes this site stand out is that, although it offers some truly divine teas, it is perfect for those new to the tea world as well.
Palais Des Thes has garnered fame across Europe. This Parisian brand has made unusual teas a great deal more accessible to people. The teas offered on this site appeal to a broader audience. All of their teas can be shipped internationally.
The company behind this site has its roots in Montreal. In addition to offering up high-quality teas, the site is also associated with a tea school.
Their physical store has become renowned in tea circles and the Tea Dealers site maintains this reputation. Thus, if you want to really take your tea tasting experience to the next level, this is just the online store to help you out.
The T Shop specializes in Asian teas. Unlike many of the other stores, this company is all about offering you an unvarnished and straightforward tea experience. This makes it a unique and interesting option for novice and expert tea drinkers alike.
In Pursuit of Tea is a larger tea brand – at least bigger than some of the other online stores here. Nevertheless, it is one of the few shops that don’t adhere to the mass-produced, chain rule. Thus, it is an excellent place for beginners to get their start.
The Red Blossom Tea store focuses on China and Taiwan to source its tea. This doesn’t mean that the options are limited in any way at all. Rather, this narrower scope actually helps to provide a higher quality of tea.
Although the main store is situated in Seattle, this tea shop – and its online store – focus on teas sourced from Taiwan. As a result, you get to explore the various unique options that the country has to offer.
Of course, you know all about Amazon. While it may not strike many as being the best place to shop around for teas, you would be surprised.
However, the main advantage of Amazon is that it is easily accessible. In most instances, you should be able to find what you are looking for.
As you can see, your tea option horizons would be broadened quite a bit when you decide to shop for tea online. Of course, it may take a while to learn the art of shopping online.
Nevertheless, once you get more comfortable with selecting various tea types, you will soon be comfortable enough to start exploring even more.
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