High-quality bulk tea: where, oh where, can I find thee?
March 23, 2008 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a newfound love of tea, especially that from Rishi tea. However, it costs an arm and a leg for the little container that I can guzzle down in a week or two. I want to buy tea in bulk, but I don't know where to get quality tea at a good price. Rishi costs $40 a pound. Is $40 the going rate for a pound of good tea? I found this old thread, but I would like suggestions on a place to purchase online. How is Coffee Bean Direct's tea? Bonus points for an awesome green/mint blend and fair-trade/organic! If there's a good tea discussion board with pointers about what's good, I'd love to know about that, too!
posted by jstef to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Upton / Stash / Adagio / previously.

Or, you could find a local Russian / South Asian / East African grocery, if you have one, and get good tea for between $5 and $10 a pound. Not single-estate, not first-flush, but good enough to embarrass those who sell at a premium in groceries.
posted by holgate at 8:08 PM on March 23, 2008

My excellent local (Minneapolis) shop, Teasource, sells online.
posted by Utilitaritron at 8:24 PM on March 23, 2008

I happen to know that a new online tea store is in the works, featuring organic free trade teas. I hear it is a couple of weeks from opening but you might want to check out Powderkeg Tea later.
posted by trinity8-director at 10:13 PM on March 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I think I'm going to do a taste test between some of these more expensive brands and the bulk from the sites esmerelda suggested... Some of those Stash teas just look so good, but at least I'll be able to feed the addiction with the cheap stuff you all suggested! Esmerelda, do you find the Eastrise Teas comparable in quality to Rishi?

More suggestions are welcome, especially if anybody has points of comparison to the Rishi brand that I know (I have a pretty narrow knowledge of the seemingly extensive world of tea).
posted by jstef at 11:26 PM on March 23, 2008

My tea snob friend swears by Upton teas.
posted by that girl at 6:07 AM on March 24, 2008

I get alot of my tea from Teavana. I have been very happy with their teas ( I am a BIG Darjeeling fan). It makes me happy (and more broke) now they opened a shop just down the road from my house.

On aside, one thing I picked up from there was one of the teamakers that you put on top of the cup. I was leery at first but damn that makes some good tea.
posted by ShawnString at 6:27 AM on March 24, 2008

Your profile says you're in Boulder, CO. There's a really neat tea shop/restaurant (with some fancy Mongolian?---some sort of asian--- beautifully decorated tea house inside the restaurant) somewhere in downtown Boulder that serves and sells tea. (and my recollection is that the food was very good, too.)

A fast google finds me The Boulder Dunshabe Tea House. You totally should go and check it out. We had a really lovely time there. And they seem to have lots of varieties of tea that they sell.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:17 AM on March 24, 2008

Response by poster: Yep, I frequent the Dushanbe Teahouse every so often. Their Rooibus Chai is killer, but like everything in the Gore-Tex vortex, is priced to sell to uppity hippie types. But if anyone ever swings through Boulder, that's a sight to see, whether you enjoy tea or not!
posted by jstef at 8:25 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been getting tea from www.harney.com for several years and I have been happy with their teas and service. Now as to price. I've paid anywhere from $20 to $120 for a pound of tea. It depends on the quality of the tea. By the way even at $120 a pound your price per cup is still not bad; you can get about 200 cups from a pound, and that's not counting if you infuse multiple times.
posted by jockc at 9:12 AM on March 24, 2008

Tea is usually sold in quantities of (approximately) 125 grams/4 ounces, possibly because having larger amounts goes stale before it is used up. Don't forget that the quality of the water will make a difference. The Brita filter system works well and is inexpensive especially if purchased from Costco. Another factor to be careful of is water temperature - only herbal or black teas should be made with boiling water. Oolongs prefer around 190-200 degrees, and green teas like 180-190 degrees. In general you should drink inexpensive teas daily, and save the expensive ones for a splurge. Japanese grocery stores can have excellent green teas under $10. Twining's loose leaf tea sold in cans in grocery stores can be good; I like their English breakfast tea and at $5 the price is right. That's what I mean by cheap daily drinking tea.

For more expensive teas, another good source of fair trade and organic teas is Peet's. Currently, their price of $13.45 on Formosan Ti-Kwan Yin beats Upton's price of $21.80. They do have cheaper teas, too - their Jade Mist Organic green tea is about $10 and is excellent.
posted by conrad53 at 12:15 PM on March 24, 2008

Try www.t2tea.com

It's a franchise tea shop in Australia, but it has a great site which I've bought from before. Many teas to chose from. Service is good. They even sent me a heap of freebie samples with my order.
posted by Jartinka at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2008

I buy Chado Tea in store, but they also sell online. I drink mostly Green Tea, Genmaicha is my current favorite. It's a fun tea to drink:

"Tea of curiosity and tranquility. Bancha green tea blended with popped corn and toasted hulled rice kernels. Nutty flavor and wonderful taste."
posted by jonah at 8:30 PM on March 24, 2008

My favorite online / mail order place is Upton teas.
posted by brandnew at 2:38 PM on March 25, 2008

I've been ordering from Two Hills Teas for years. Excellent product, fair-trade, socially and environmentally responsible.
posted by worstkidever at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2008

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