Hmm, I think there are two different definitions of "top-shelf" working here: one of which you guys are arguing for, and one which I'm arguing for. I'm not sure which one WSJ has in mind, but it seems likely that it's your definition and not mine.
AdamMY wrote:I think you have to realize we are not the typical American/ tea drinkers.
Right. I'm aware of that. But I always thought that "top-shelf" stuff is not the kind of thing that a "typical" (whatever that means) shopper could find in a grocery store. Same goes for anything - coffee, beer, wine, etc. However, Tazo is certainly the kind of product I can buy at my local King Soopers or Safeway or Whole Foods.
For a lot of people they do not realize that there is a world to tea beyond what they can find at a supermarket, (quite a few people haven't even seen a teavana). Compared to what is at most supermarkets Tazo is "top shelf." Just like I am sure there is a world to coffee that I really do not know about, but coffee has the same issue, a lot of people do not realize that even buying whole bean coffee from the grocery store is still likely to be pretty bad coffee. And whole bean coffee is "top shelf" compared to the instant mixes that they also sell.
See, I never thought of the term "top-shelf" being a comparative term, but rather an absolute one. For any type of product, I figure that the "top-shelf" products are going to be the best ones, certainly a luxury product, regardless of what you or I or the reader of a WSJ article any other arbitrary person is likely to purchase. I don't think it's too difficult to argue that the best teas aren't available in supermarkets.
I don't find that entry to be particularly illuminating. It's not a very precise definition.