Any recommendation on tea stores in Boston?


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Any recommendation on tea stores in Boston?

Postby fmoreira272 » Apr 18th, '09, 00:50

hi everyone

i just started getting into "serious" tea drinking lately and thanks to teachat forums my interest has increased with every topic. never thought a beverage could be so intriguing, delightful and enlightening(i keep adding a new word for each new tea/blend/variety i try).
im glad and thankful for so many people that take time to share their experiences and knowledge.
im originally from brazil where coffee is the national drink and tea (mostly black teabags) is regarded as a cheap and inferior alternative.
then i came across some teabags from mighty leaf tea and i was amused by watching the tea leaves open after steeped. i didnt know tea could do that. my idea of fresh tea was linked to yerba mate, which now i know its not a tea at all!
quite a few teacups after i find myself writing my first post here at teachat.com while sipping a nice cup of snowbud white tea from a chinese gaiwan (one of the few occasions i feel good when i read "made in china").
i know there are many tea sources online but somehow i wish i could get a more hands on experience. i live in boston and have been to teavana (copley and chestnut hill) and their sales people are extremely pushy and made me feel very uncomfortable. i run away home and tried to forget about the experience with a bowl of matcha.
does anyone recommend any stores around boston for high quality tea? or am i better off venturing online?
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Postby Katrina » Apr 20th, '09, 20:32

Hello! I have always like Tealuxe, although, again, they are a bit more on the commercial side. They are cafes but they sell a huge variety of loose leaf. (And because they are cafes you can try anything.) Good quality products and really comfortable environments. Tea Zone in Somerville is fabulous. The place itself isn't much to look at but the teas are excellent and you can really spend a lot of time exploring. Virtuous Teas in Waltham is a prettier shop with a very big selection as well. Those are the ones that pop to mind immediately for actually seeing product. I'll post again as others come to mind.

**EDIT: Virtuous Teas is actually in Newton.
Last edited by Katrina on May 5th, '09, 11:40, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby fmoreira272 » Apr 20th, '09, 20:45

thanks a lot. i need to go downtown this week, so i will stop by Tealuxe, sounds interesting. i guess going to a cafe is a great way to try a variety of teas without the trouble of buying and brewing, and then figure out whats best to take home. i used to do just that with coffee but never thought about the same for tea. thanks again!
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Postby xuancheng » Apr 29th, '09, 07:48

I am from Boston (Cambridge, actually) and will be returning in August. Today, I just found a web log post about a (new?) teashop in Boston Chinatown. I will be headed there as soon as I get home, but would love to hear reviews/opinions before I go.

Silky Way
35 Harrison Ave.
Boston's Chinatown

http://www.micheletopor.com/gossip/2009 ... l-tea.html
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Postby Katrina » Apr 29th, '09, 09:55

xuancheng wrote:Today, I just found a web log post about a (new?) teashop in Boston Chinatown. I will be headed there as soon as I get home, but would love to hear reviews/opinions before I go.

Silky Way


Thanks for the tip. I'll certainly check it out before your return to the area. I'll post an update next time I head into the city.

I also saw that there's a new cafe in Post Office Square. It's in the "glass cube" where the old Milk Street Cafe was. It's called "Sip." There's a write up here.
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Silky Way and Tealuxe

Postby fmoreira272 » May 3rd, '09, 14:36

Just stopped by Silky Way yesterday while in downtown.
As I walked in I was greeted by the couple(owners) who offered me some tea(several pretty flower tea in wine glasses). it was lukewarm but tasty. They were helpful and after asking some questions left me on my own to browse the store.
they have a good selection of teaware but nothing that caught my eye. they carry many gongfu sets but i found them a little overpriced compared to online stores. the cheapest was 39.99 for a nice celadon gaiwan and 4 cute cups. there was even a mass-produced matcha set for $20.
but what i was found mostly interesting was the nice pieces of antique furniture, specially the bureaus but too bad cant fit anything else on my tiny condo...
personally not worth a trip but certainly a good place to stop by if you are around.
later i was at Harvard Square and i decided to check tealuxe. i liked the atmosphere as i walked in. it seemed pretty busy. i browsed the tea samples and teapots while waiting to someone available at the counter. they were very busy making drinks. then my friend i was suposed to meet called me and i ended up leaving without ordering anything. but will stop by next time for sure.
I guess i will keep buying my tea online. Just received few samples from www.thesimpleleaf.com and im having a lot of fun sampling their beautiful and tasty tea(yummm...) as i "patiently" wait for my shincha to arrive.
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Postby xuancheng » May 4th, '09, 07:41

Have you tried the place in Somerville that Katrina suggested above? Here is their website

http://www.teazonline.com/servlet/StoreFront

Sorry you didn't like silky way.
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Postby fmoreira272 » May 4th, '09, 10:20

thanks for the suggestions anyway. i usually go to chinatown but never really saw anything, i guess silky way is new. it seems the demand for tea is increasing. i enjoy going to new places, kind nice to see the neighborhood by a different angle. wondering if there isnt many tea shops heres because of the boston tea party :D in a way if wasnt for tea there wouldnt be America.
teazonline is next on my "tea hunting", i have some friends in somerville so i guess i will try it soon.

:P
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Postby xuancheng » May 4th, '09, 11:24

I'd love to get your take on Tea Zone when you have gone.

I have often wondered why the Boston area has so few tea shops. I wouldn't be so naive to expect it to compare to New York, LA or San Francisco, but Tealuxe, Tea Zone and Silky way seem like a very small selection.
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Postby Katrina » May 4th, '09, 15:39

I think there is definitely a very limited selection of tea purveyors in the Boston area, particularly compared with cities like SF and NYC. Tealuxe opened in '96 as a local chain that sells significant amounts of loose tea. Virtuous Teas and Tea Zone both have very good selections and knowledgeable staff. There are many cafes that serve tea and some that sell a small selection of loose, but you will find many of these places seemed to use the same source - MEM Teas of Somerville - or they are big chains like Peet's. Dado Tea in Cambridge has a good selection and I believe they sell their own. Mark T. Wendell in W. Concord has been in business for 105 years and has a solid selection available, but they do not have a storefront. (You can visit their warehouse though and buy directly.) I've always been surprised that Chinatown didn't have a tea-specific shop previously (that I knew about.) Upton is nearby but also has no storefront and only does online/catalog orders.

I wish I could pinpoint the reason for the limited options. With the enormous student population, as well as the number of people hailing from tea-loving countries, I continue to find it surprising.
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Postby gingkoseto » May 4th, '09, 20:30

I guess in many cities, you can't expect to get really good Chinese stuff from Chinatown. I don't know about tea stores, but for Chinese restaurants, I've heard from many people that most of the times they would go to all other places for nice Chinese food, but much less frequently to Chinatown. Even NYC Chinatown, it seems to have got much better in just recent years. I remember there was a time period when many people said "don't go to Chinatown for good Chinese food".

As for tea, due to the shelf life and storage requirements of loose leaf tea, tea retailing will always be a risky business when the market is not very large. It could easily happen that when a tea store is finally open, it's too expensive for frequent drinkers, not appealing enough for occasional drinkers and not profitable for owners. Even in large cities in China, I've sadly noticed that more and more tea houses become upscale and expensive, and used mainly by affluent people or businessmen. Most tea drinkers would rather enjoy tea at home with much lower costs.
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Postby fmoreira272 » May 4th, '09, 22:26

even though kind of upscale Boston does have Teavana. personally i didnt have a good experience with the store(too pushy sales people, so so tea) but they do call attention with their displays and get quite a few people interested in tea.
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Postby xuancheng » May 5th, '09, 10:32

I found a couple more interesting looking places in Boston [url="http://www.teaguide.net/tearoomsmassachusetts.htm]here[/url].

I am particularly interested in this:
Kaji Aso Studio Japanese Tea House (House of Flower Wind) [Tea room]
40 St. Stephen Street; 617-247-1719

It is an art studio, but I think they have a proper Japanese teahouse in a garden outback. I think the woman who presents the tea ceremony (on Sundays, reservations required) teaches as well.

Also,
The Tea Merchant
TheOTHERSIDE Café
Timeless Teas

Are all(!) on Newbury st. They all seem to sell loose leaf to go as well as have a tea room.

I am not sure if these places are listed in the TeaChat TeaMap, maybe I should have checked. :oops:
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Postby Katrina » May 5th, '09, 11:40

xuancheng wrote:I am particularly interested in this:
Kaji Aso Studio Japanese Tea House (House of Flower Wind) [Tea room]
40 St. Stephen Street; 617-247-1719

It is an art studio, but I think they have a proper Japanese teahouse in a garden outback. I think the woman who presents the tea ceremony (on Sundays, reservations required) teaches as well.

Also,
The Tea Merchant
TheOTHERSIDE Café
Timeless Teas



I actually went for the Sunday afternoon tea ceremony last weekend and it was WONDERFUL. (It is on TeaMap both under Kaji Aso Studio and under House of Flower Wind.) The Kaji Aso Studio was founded in the '70s I believe and the concept was that it would be a salon-type setting - arts, debate, discussion, and music. They offer a wide array of arts classes and poetry and music events as well as a Sunday afternoon tea ceremony. The studio is run by a woman named Kate Finnegan who studied with Master Aso since 1980 and she is also the tea master. The teahouse is built into the basement of the brownstone and you enter through their Japanese tea garden. They were wonderful at preparing you for the ceremony, showing you the beauty of the experience, and discussing it with you as things proceeded. I would highly, highly recommend. You must reserve at least 48 hours in advance and you can also arrange for a private tea ceremony. They also have an apprenticeship program where you can spend several weeks studying tea ceremony at the studio.

RE: the others
* I looked for Tea Merchant one day and couldn't find it.

* The Otherside Cafe is a cafe/pub that serves tea. Not sure if they sell loose leaf. I haven't been there but it's supposed to be a pretty funky place.

* Timeless Teas - I haven't been very impressed with this place. They do have a large array of loose leaf but the two times I went in, trying to get info was like pulling teeth. They list a tea bar but it's really a loose leaf shop. I guess it didn't come to mind because it's not a place I would go back to.

(BTW - I erred in my previous post. I'll correct it there, too, but Virtuous Teas is actually in Newton.)
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Postby xuancheng » May 5th, '09, 11:58

Katrina wrote: I actually went for the Sunday afternoon tea ceremony last weekend and it was WONDERFUL...


It sounds wonderful. Are you going to write it up for your web log? I think I have checked that recently, but maybe I missed it.
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