Yeah, its certainly a good thing to try a number of sellers - most of them have their own preferences, some of them wich will suit you better, some won't! Also, the shops are made up quite differently - that will tell you a lot about their policies if you know what to look for. If you don't, and really want to know - sample, sample, sample.
And some more thoughts:
- the samplers from JK are really nice - since they contain 10 sorts or more it gives you a lot of info how different Dan Cong or Wuyi Oolongs can be! Also I like their information policy, even though the sale staff is quite anonymous.
I'd also mention teahong.com - they got a very nice selection of Oolongs and a quite unique way of classifying them.
And one more thought on the subject: I've tried my way through in the last months and am missing one thing quite a lot: Clear and abundant information about the production background on the teas I buy. That is for me the thing that might really tie me to a vendor: To get trustworthy information about:
- who produced the tea
- that they were paid appropriately
- how old the trees are
- that the production methods were ecologially sustainable (as far as I can see, its virtually impossible to find good quality Dan Cong which was produced without chemicals, since these teas easily sell on the chinese market anyways)
- and so on.. you get the idea
That kind of info is really hard to come by... and where it is present, the question arises how reliable it is. Just to give some examples:Tea Urchin - Visit in Mang Zhi
(sorry, that one's about Pu'erh. Its just that kind of information that excites me... and I just believed it to be reliable because the Urchin has a good reputation here - of course I'm totally dependent on other people to judge on that)
Or, to get back to oolong:EoT - Handmade Organic TGY
they also do have pages where they present their teamakers, and they also do have a good reputation, so I believe them. Of course, both these stores do sell premium quality.. stocking up on that tea will hurt your purse.
I also adore Leo Kwans oolongs: Tea Hong - Oolongs
Not so much info about the teas here, but I just believe that he's authentic and wants to sell really good tea, for example judging on the basis of the effort he puts in his free info page teaguardian.com.
So, as far as I can see, it is possible to find tea that is somewhat organic and fair trade and as a bonus, tastes nice.
It just isn't possible to drink that every day. So thats what I'll be looking out for - a vendor who can provide a tea for everyday which I can actually afford. I hope that the more knowledgable tea drinkers around here add some info to put my very incomplete impressions into perspective.