TomVerlain wrote:From looking in other tea shops, I think being able to see and touch small samples really lets you understand the many varieties of tea. Small ceramic cups with the various leaves and a placard invites exploration.
I also agree
A small shop with a very personal ptouch and no pressure to buy anything got me started into tea. They gongfu'd everything with a chinese tea setup, that got me to but the teaware as well. It also was great to talk and look at different teas while tasting. It hels to have the teas extensive background. I also enjoy the full leaf teas as they made for better presentation rather than the 'normal' (ones that you can buy at more expensive grocery stores) loose leaf teas, that tend to be more chopped up.
Now that I think of it, that is the only reason I got to a tea shop instead of buying looseleaf at some generic market, the nice leaves that you can see and try before buying.
And where else are you going to be able to buy a brick or cake of puerh? IMHO, puerh is the one thing lacking from adiago that has prevented me from ordering as typically I get oolongs and greens as something extra alongside the pu when I buy. A display of reasonably priced and drinkable shu puerh cakes can look fantastic in a shop.