I’ve found that Tea Source is an excellent place to get high quality teas at a good price. A coworker recommended Tea Source to me, and who had been ordering from them for some years. He is an avid photographer and he read about Tea Source on a photography website. Apparently, the person running the photography website is also an avid tea drinker and likes to give tea suggestions. I would say that word of mouth recommendations are generally a good sign of a good tea vendor.
Nice selection of teas and great prices
Tea Source has a great selection of chinese teas. These categories include black, puer, dark, oolong, green, and white. Technically in China, black tea is referred to as red tea, and dark tea is referred to as black tea. Since most people in the west refer to red tea as black tea, it makes sense that they try to stay within this framework. Each tea category is also divided into the different regions that they come from. This can be of interest for tea drinkers that study the regions. Its also helpful for the tea education of people just getting into loose leaves.
I havn’t tried their lower cost teas, but I can say from experience that their mid to higher range teas are of reliable quality. Anything that start at least $18 for 4 oz will be something that most tea drinkers will not regret.
They also have a good selection of matcha, but I havn’t tried them and therefore can not comment. A friend of mine regularly orders first flush darjeeling from Tea Source and he is very satisfied with the orders the has made.
For the quality tea that they provide, the prices are far from overpriced.
Ships everywhere, and has good customer service
Tea Source is located in Minneapolis and one could understand if they specifically cater to that market. I make orders from Europe and I find that it ships fairly quickly and problem free. Its not quite obvious from the website that one can ship to outside of the U.S., but its as easy as sending them an email with a list of teas and where to ship it. They respond fairly quickly and can answer most questions.
Things I would like to see
Tea source does a fairly good job as a vendor. I wish though that they had a larger selection of organic teas. I understand that this might sound nitpicky because not many tea vendors have a decent selection of organic teas. And many would make the argument that many tea farmers grow organic, but don’t go through the trouble of getting organic certification. Tea Source seems to have a fairly rigorous standard for what qualifies as organic. Its understandable if not many growers will be able to meet these standards. This would of course limit what Tea Source can label as organic.
I would also like to see more teas that are not only organic, but are also not mass produced on tea plantations. I am sure that there is a growing market that appreciates a naturally grown tea’s complexity. Tea that has roots that grown deeper and is grown in a biodynamic environment tends to give a richer, more complex tea that a plantation tea simply can not reproduce.