Saturday, June 9, 2012

How I Buy Tea

I often get asked about how I buy tea. First and foremost, I am a notorious impulse buyer. If a tea is unique or strikes my fancy then I'm probably going to buy it. One of the first things I consider is actually the size of the package. Thanks to this blog and the generosity of many lovely tea companies, I usually have tea coming out of my ears. It just wouldn't make sense for me to buy a whole pound of tea because I would never drink it all. I LOVE when companies offer sample sizes because it allows me to try a tea I might not have been able to otherwise.

The next thing I would look for is appearance and aroma. Although not all good looking leaves make good tea, I'm a sucker for a pretty tea. Whether it's the downy hairs of a silver needle or the twists and curls of a golden monkey, I love examining the leaves and getting up close and personal with my tea. Each variety of tea also has a scent all its own and I find myself to be most attracted to teas that smell exactly as they should. Drinking tea is a very sensory experience and aroma is a huge part of that.

It is also very important to me that the tea I buy is environmentally and socioeconomically responsible. I try to buy tea that is organic and fair trade whenever possible. Organic is important because the massive quantities of tea that I drink put me at risk for consuming pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I also prefer that my tea be fair trade because I think it behooves a tea drinker to know where their tea came from and the affect that their purchasing decisions have on the workers who produced it.

Price would be my final consideration. With the world at our fingertips through the internet, there are enough online retailers to make your head spin. It can actually make the decision to buy very difficult. I will usually spend a lot of time comparison shopping before making a purchase. I'll Google a tea or look at what others are saying about it on sites like Steepster and Teaviews. I find that with tea you generally get what you pay for. Of course their are exceptions to every rule and you can find some awesome teas for a bargain price if you search around enough.

I'd love to hear from my readers on what matters most to them when purchasing tea. Let me know in the comments on this !