I have been drinking tea for about 6 years now, and the quality of tea I have chosen to drink has risen throughout those years. I have moved from purchasing local grocery store tea bags to buying “whole leaf” tea that is still in tea bags, all the way to purchasing loose leaf teas by the ounce at local tea stores and Teavana (Amazon, too!)
However, as I have done more research about teas, I have learned that certain teas are kept in storage better than others, and some teas are freshest only in the first year of their life. That means from the moment they’re picked, they will only have that superior magnificence for a single year. Since the vast majority of teas (not tisanes) are produced in Asia, it typically takes a while before the new season’s tea leaves are shipped in great quantity to the United States and other western nations.
I have never actually seen a tea company, be it a commercial tea bag producer, quality loose-leaf tea retailer like Teavana, and other online tea shops, disclose when their teas were plucked and/or shipped to them. However, I have found one tea retailer that goes above and beyond their call of duty to truly try to acquire the freshest and highest quality of tea leaves, and fully disclose all information related to tea quality:
Mary Lou and Robert Heiss are the owners of this Massachusetts tea shop, and have been in the tea business for decades. They have established personal relationships with tea farmers in Asia and frequently travel to see the new season’s pluck, as well as create more relationships with new tea farmers. This enables them to source incredibly high-quality teas and have them shipped to the United States very soon after plucking, which allows tea enthusiasts like me to purchase and drink them while knowing exactly when and in what region the tea leaves were plucked. This is perfect and almost necessary knowledge when trying to plan how long each tea can be stored in order to brew them while they are in the freshest state.
The Heiss’ also have a wonderful book, which much of The Societea’s tea data is based off of:
I have read this book front-to-back at least twice, and use it often as a reference. If you currently drink tea and wish to learn more about it, and possibly purchase high quality tea as well, then I highly encourage you to check out this book. Beware though, this is a no-fluff book which contains rock solid facts and detail; make sure you’re in a mental state that’s ready to learn!
So for those of you who have purchased tea in the past and are curious as to where a high-quality tea seller is, look no further; Tea Trekker has got you covered.