Best/Favorite Oolong Sources?


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Best/Favorite Oolong Sources?

Postby t4texas » Sep 25th, '08, 07:51

I have been buying my Oolong from a local shop. While they have some good moderate cost teas ranging up to some very fine quality teas of all types, I want to try some other sources, too.

For Oolongs, what has been your experience with the various vendors shipping from China or from the US? I am looking for those with some depth in their offerings. Not really interested in cheap - rather from good everyday tea to exceptionally fine tea. Great for some Oolongs, but not for others? Pricey, average or good deal for what you get?

Thanks,

t4texas
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Postby tsverrir » Sep 25th, '08, 10:42

I haven't been ordering oolong from many vendors (I mostly buy puerh), but generally I have good experience of vendors in China, Taiwan and Malaysia. If you like Taiwanese oolongs I would recommend teafromtaiwan.com. I have a couple of orders from them and am very pleased with the tea. I live in Iceland and the shipping is about 2-3 weeks, should be the same to US. The shipping cost is moderate and they offer free worldwide shipping with orders over $60. They have sample sets with most of their catalog so you can try out the tea before buying larger volumes.

Hope this helps.
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Adagio

Postby cajunwowi » Sep 25th, '08, 11:12

I'm quite interested myself. I have been buying everything from Adagio and haven't had a bad experience. I would like to venture out alittle but if you haven't tried Adagio you should definately give them a try. I'm not a connoisseur but I think the quality is good, prices are good, and the service is second to none.

Sorry but Adagio is the only review I can give.
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Postby t4texas » Sep 25th, '08, 11:27

Thanks, tsverrir and cajunwowi.

I have been looking at Jing Tea Shop and Hou De, too. I think both are focused more on Pu and are rather pricey. Are both these vendors also very good for Oolongs? I did notice some more modestly prices Oolongs on Jing that got good reviews there. I do like the idea of their small samples before committing to any larger quantity.
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Postby Cinnamon Kitty » Sep 25th, '08, 11:59

The oolongs that I have purchased from Hou De have been excellent. I currently have the 2005 Shui Xian Wuyi, 2008 Nan Tou "Dong-Ding" style, and the 90s Aged Nan Tou that is not listed on the site any more and have tried at least two other teas from them thanks to a few tea swaps. The Shui Xian was only $10.50 for 2oz and the 2008 Nan Tou was $15 for 4oz, which is very fair price for good quality oolongs in my opinion. The shipping from Hou De was also very quick and is a $5 flat rate.
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Postby Salsero » Sep 25th, '08, 12:57

Cinnamon Kitty wrote: ... which is very fair price for good quality oolongs in my opinion ...
Wow, I always think of Hou De has having very expensive oolongs, but these are great prices, just as you say, especially when you factor in the shipping.
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Re: Best/Favorite Oolong Sources?

Postby Wesli » Sep 25th, '08, 13:22

t4texas wrote:I am looking for those with some depth in their offerings. Not really interested in cheap - rather from good everyday tea to exceptionally fine tea.

Check out Houde. I have their 05 shui xian, and drink it as an everyday, and an 07 which is better. Everything up from there is beyond what I spend on oolongs, but I'm happy with what I have.
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Postby Trioxin » Sep 25th, '08, 14:09

I've just put in an order from Floating Leaves Tea. I've never ordered from them before, but figured it was worth a shot. They've some interesting looking oolongs.

For a good deal, I'm fond of speacialteas.com fine grade tky. It won't win any awards, but still a very nice tea considering the low price.
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Re: Best/Favorite Oolong Sources?

Postby wyardley » Sep 25th, '08, 14:49

t4texas wrote:I have been buying my Oolong from a local shop. While they have some good moderate cost teas ranging up to some very fine quality teas of all types, I want to try some other sources, too.


What style(s) of oolong do you like? Oolong / semi-green is such a huge range of tea, since it encompasses pretty much everything on the spectrum between green tea and red tea. I find that most vendors specialize in teas from a particular country or region, and also of a certain type. I think you will find very few vendors who have great tea across the board (and if you do, the cost may be higher than at a vendor who specializes more).

Find out where the vendor is from originally, and whether they specialize in teas from Mainland China or Taiwan, whether they have more teas that are higher on the oxidation / roasting scale or greener.

IMO, Hou De (http://houdeasianart.com/) is definitely worth checking out even if you're not near Houston. His mainland stuff is good too, though I think he sources most of it indirectly via Taiwan, so the prices may be higher than comparable tea from another source. But overall, I think Guang has good taste and sells excellent teas at generally somewhat reasonable (though certainly not low) prices.

For some mainland oolongs, especially Dan Cong, I would check out Tea Habitat (a shop local to me) -- http://teahabitat.com/ and http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/ (full disclosure - I'm friends with the owner, who's also part of our little LA-area tea group). Also Jing (http://jingteashop.com). First is in the US; second ships direct from China (Jing also has very nice porcelain and teapots, though their markup and prices are relatively high -- that said, I think the quality of what you get is MUCH better than your average vendor that ships direct from China).

I can't really recommend a source for mainland Tie Guan Yin right now - it's so popular in China that most of the stuff that makes it out of the country is either not actually Anxi TGY, or is of very poor quality, or both. And it's getting harder and harder to find the higher fire stuff. salsero suggested checking out the traditional TGY from http://just4tea.com/, and I find it to be very nice for the price. Best Tea House in Vancouver (I've posted about them before) has some nice medium and heavily roasted TGY, and there are a few other HK vendors which have US branches that also sell a similar product. No online shopping for BTH, but you can call them if you want to order.

Stéphane at http://teamasters.blogspot.com is very much worth checking out for Taiwanese oolongs, and he has a good selection of both the greener types and more traditional teas, as well as a few excellent aged teas (his '90s Dong Ding is excellent in my opinion). Overall, I think the consensus is that this spring wasn't very good for Taiwanese high mountain style oolong - even vendors who typically sell these teas were saying that.

J-tea in Oregon (http://jteainternational.com/) and Floating Leaves in Seattle (http://floatingleaves.com/) may also be worth checking out, especially for Taiwanese oolongs. I believe J-tea has lowered their prices a little since the owner last updated the site, so give a call before you order anything online.

Tea Gallery in NY (http://theteagallery.com) has finally started expanding their online presence. Their prices are somewhat high (though not out of the scope of some of the other vendors here), but worth a try. One good thing is that they have a fairly limited, but carefully chosen, selection, which I think is actually a good thing, though they don't always provide really detailed information about a tea's origin, specific varietal, or actual Chinese name, (unless you ask).

Last comment: buying tea online is tricky, and lots of times, people explain things in terms that might mean something different to you than it means to them. So especially before you get a sense of what the different terms mean, and which vendors sell tea that tastes good to you, I suggest buying small quantities at first, and get the vendor to send you samples of some stuff they think you should try. Some vendors will even send you a set of samples for a nominal fee. This is worth doing, because lots of times, a tea sounds great on paper, you get really hyped up, and then you're disappointed when it arrives and tastes nothing like you expected.

Buying tea blind is never good, but over time, you will develop a better sense about which teas you're likely to like and which ones you aren't. If you can find any good brick and mortar stores within easy driving distance (where in TX are you?), I would suggest trying them first.
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Postby Cinnamon Kitty » Sep 25th, '08, 17:33

Salsero wrote:
Cinnamon Kitty wrote: ... which is very fair price for good quality oolongs in my opinion ...
Wow, I always think of Hou De has having very expensive oolongs, but these are great prices, just as you say, especially when you factor in the shipping.


I originally thought that Hou De had some very pricey oolongs at the first glance, but then I ended up looking a little closer at their selection and found a few that were very nicely priced.

A few months ago, I had asked for some recommendations for dark roasted oolong vendors and had spent a while comparing prices, shipping, and products. I think I was looking at TeaCuppa, Jing Tea Shop, Red Blossom, and Hou De. What I found was that Red Blossom had very high shipping rates, especially considering that they are in the U.S. and the teas were being shipped to another part of the U.S. Jing Tea Shop at least had a good reason for higher shipping since it is directly from China. I think the main reason that I didn't go with them was that I was impatient and did not want to wait a few weeks for my teas to arrive.

That left me with TeaCuppa and Hou De since I didn't want to pay excessive amounts for shipping. Both had low cost, flat rate shipping and a good selection of oolongs. What made me choose Hou De was that they had one package of the 90s Aged Nan Tou left and it was only $17. That tea is amazing! Looking at it afterward, for 3 teas with a total of 8oz, I only ended up paying about $6 more than what it would it would have cost me for the shopping cart with the same amount of tea that I had ready at TeaCuppa.

With the Hou De oolongs, I have found that they last many steeps to where I tend to lose count of how many I've done which thoroughly justifies the prices that I paid for them.
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Postby devites » Sep 25th, '08, 19:04

I love Floating Leaves tea, the tea is amazing. Baozhong (farmers choice), Dong Ding, Ali Shan High Mountain, and Li Shan Fu Sou are the exceptionally amazing. The Green Goddess is good, but not exceptional and the Phoenix is a good cheap everyday oolong.
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Postby t4texas » Sep 25th, '08, 19:35

Hmmm, my text was wiped out...would not post. I'll try again.
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Postby t4texas » Sep 25th, '08, 19:42

Thanks everyone.

Although I have tried a number of good to great Oolongs, including an incredible Great Red Robe and a fine Dan Cong at my local shop, The Cultured Cup in Dallas, I continue to be in more of an exploratory mode than looking for things that fit any pre-established preferences. I have been participating in a tea club called the T-Bar Club at the Cultured Cup for a couple of years. Members of this group have brought back teas from trips to Japan, China, Tibet and India to share and it has been a very good experience for me. I still get many teas from the Cultured Cup and have started exploring other internet vendors, too.

Being somewhat methodical, the kind of thing I want to do is sample several Dan Congs or several Wuyi's Rocks, or do a compare and contrast with high and low fire TGYs, so I am planning on getting three or four competition tasting sets. Jing's samples of a number of interesting teas in those categories got my attention.

Thanks to the suggestions here, I put in an order for Hou De's three Dan Cong Sample Set today. Unless IKE is still causing more mail problems than I think he is, I should get that in two days, maybe tomorrow. I may re-order some of the recommended, daily drinking teas you haave recommended.

Then I'll try some of the other recs on down the line. I am doing mostly samples right now, because I would rather explore than settle on two or three favorites.

I have some porcelein coming in from Jing, wyardley. Even on the web they look better than other vendors. Thanks for the very detailed recommendations.

Still open to any other suggestions, of course.
Last edited by t4texas on Sep 30th, '08, 23:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby t4texas » Sep 25th, '08, 22:06

Anyone have any experience with Oolongs from silkroadteas.com?
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Postby Smells_Familiar » Sep 25th, '08, 23:00

t4texas, your screen name cracks me up intentional or not. and to answer your question...I've had only good teas from houde, teamasters, and jingteashop. do it
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