best tea shops

Going Digital for the Ultimate Brew:
How to Find the Best Online Tea Stores
[2020 Update]

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!

Our Favorite Stores

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.

Shopping online and having tea

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. 

Dried herbal tea

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. 

Shipping Options


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.

Song Tea & Ceramics


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.

What We Like:
  • Carefully Sourced Teas: this store is very careful about where the teas are sourced from. Thus, the procurers only accept the highest grade of teas from China and Taiwan.
  • Excellent Variety: the site actually has quite a number of teas on offer. This includes green, white, oolong, red, and botanicals. There is also a decent selection for each of these types. 
  • Exquisite Flavor Profile: each of the teas from this site will take you on a rollercoaster ride of flavors. Each type and cup boasts a distinct flavor.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Sold Out Stocks: some of the more popular types can go out of stock rather quickly. There is no mention of when the supply will be replenished.

Palais Des Thes


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.

What We Like:
  • Extensive Selection: this site boasts over 250 forms of tea from all over the world. You will be able to find all types of Camellia Sinensis plants as well as herbal options too. 
  • Organic Teas: the site does carry some organic teas in its catalog. This helps you to maintain the pureness and safety of your tea.
  • Free Samples: you are allowed up to 3 free samples with your order. You will then be able to tell which ones are your favorites ahead of time.
  • Fair Prices: while there are some expensive options, many of the teas are fairly priced when compared with competitors.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Not as Discerning: while Palais Des Thes does make an effort to maintain its tea purity, the quality isn’t as discerning as some of the smaller stores.

Camellia Sinensis


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.

What We Like:
  • Well-Reputed: as mentioned, the site is associated with a school. Due to this a number of tea sommeliers regard the teas offered by this company rather highly.
  • Good Selection of Teas: regardless of the type of tea you are looking for, you are sure to find it here. They even stock yellow teas, tisanes, and rooibos tea.
  • Organic Options: there are many organic options. Thus, you don’t have to be concerned about any foreign strains.
  • Affordable Prices: many of the items on this site are priced to be affordable. As a result, even the average tea drinker will find that it is possible to order from here.
  • Samples: the site does allow you to order smaller samples ahead of your order. 
What We Don’t Like:
  • Fewer Unique Options: there aren’t as many rare or unusual choices as with some of the other more exclusive sites.
tea break

Tea Dealers


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.

What We Like:
  • Carefully Sourced Teas: the site only sources tea from China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. Even better, they get it directly from the farmers, so you are guaranteed a fresh batch.
  • Gorgeous Variety: in addition to virtually all types of Camellia Sinensis, there are also tisanes available on this site.
  • Helpful to Beginners: the store guides people who are new to tea. Thus, you can get recommendations as well as guidance on which ones to select. This can make the process a lot less scary for the uninitiated.
  • Organic Options: the store does have a number of organic options available from China and Korea. 
What We Don’t Like:
  • Depleted Stocks: as the stocks aren’t all that large, you may find yourself having to wait for your favorite pure tea.

T Shop


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.

What We Like:
  • Well Procured Teas: all the teas available in this store are sourced from Asia. The owners take a great deal of consideration in choosing only the best pure teas from China, Taiwan, and Korea.
  • Unusual Blends: the owners work to get private and unique blends delivered to them. Thus, you can taste teas that aren’t readily available in the market.
  • Wonderful Flavor Profiles: each tea has a marked and unique flavor profile that makes it quite easy to discern one type from another.
  • Samples Available: there are smaller samples available if you wish to taste test these unique blends.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Can Require Specialized Techniques: due to the traditional nature of the tea, the flavor profile only really comes through when you utilize authentic and time-consuming tea making strategies.

In Pursuit of Tea


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.

What We Like:
  • Directly Sourced: this shop directly sources its leaves from farmers in Asia. What's more, most of these leaves are hand-picked and minimally processed. Thus, you get the freshest tea available.
  • Good Selection: especially with popular types such as black and green tea, there are a number of different options for you to choose from.
  • Interesting Options: despite being a more familiar store, this company still manages to offer some interesting options, especially with its white tea selection.
  • Good Price Point: the teas are fairly priced and are quite a bit cheaper than some of the more exclusive options.
  • Can Order Samples: you can order various samples to taste test what this site has to offer.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Inconsistent Quality Across Types: it isn’t necessarily that the quality is bad with this store. Rather, some of the tea types are far better than others.
pouring tea

Red Blossom Tea


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.

What We Like:
  • Carefully Selected Teas: the owners of the site actually travels to smaller growers during specific times of the year to get the freshest, highest quality teas.
  • Suitable for All Tea Drinkers: there are both basic options as well as premium selections for all kinds of tea drinkers. Thus, this is a store that really allows you to explore different levels.
  • Significant Selection: there are quite a number of strains and types of tea to select from. There are also some rather unique forms as well.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Limited Shipping Options: the store doesn’t ship to too many places around the world. So, depending on where you live, you may find it difficult to get your tea.

Floating Leaves


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.

What We Like:
  • Carefully Sourced: the teas are carefully sourced from multi-generational growers and artisanal farmers. So, you get to experience authentic and wholesome flavors in every cup.
  • Prized Offerings: the store actually offers some prize-winning strains of tea, ensuring that you really do get the best of the best.
  • Extensive Selection: the store has a focus on oolong teas, but does offer plenty of other kinds as well. There are many unique options that aren’t readily available elsewhere.
  • Fairly Priced: many of the teas are quite fairly priced, making them far more affordable than some of the other stores on this list.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Options Sell Out Quickly: some of the better types of oolong tea do sell out rather quickly. Furthermore, they aren’t always replenished at once.

Amazon.com


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. 

What We Like:
  • Lots of Choiceperhaps the biggest advantage of Amazon is that you are spoilt for choice. You can look through hundreds of products, allowing you to be more selective.
  • Good Quality Teas: there is a surprisingly good selection of tea on this site. There are even some unusual options from independent sellers for the more discerning tea drinkers.
  • Competitive Prices: the prices on Amazon often tend to be more competitive and cheaper than other options. So, you may be able to get it for cheaper than on many other sites.
  • Easy for Products to Be Shipped to You: having the teas shipped to you will be an absolute breeze. In fact, you should be able to get the teas regardless of where you are in the country.
What We Don’t Like:
  • Can Be Difficult to Authenticate Teas: you may find it difficult to be completely sure of the seller that you are purchasing from, especially if you opt for an independent seller.

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.

Do you have a favorite online tea shop and did it make the list? Let us know in the comments below if there are any special tea websites that you like to shop on. 

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