Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

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Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 3rd, '13, 10:39

Is it possible and likely to get good quality green tea from a local tea shop?

I recently bought some more expensive green tea from a local tea shop and the cheaper stuff I bought directly from o-cha.com tasted much better.

I know there is the issue of freshness. Anything that a tea shop gets is going to be sitting on boats and in warehouses for a while.

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby BrooklynBrew » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:05

I don't know what your definition of good is, but if I need something in a pinch and inexpensive I'll grab loose or bagged tea from a Japanese grocery store here in New York City. I usually use that for making mugs of tea at work or when I travel (I took Yamamotoyama tea bags on a cruise with me last summer--sencha and houjicha and both were just fine ... especially since my options on the cruise were Lipton, Lipton and more Lipton).

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby Chip » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:24

For most of us it is unlikely. Besides the freshness issues, there are the sourcing issues. Unless a store is well connected to sources, success diminishes. I often even wonder what harvest teas they are being sold, seriously ... is this 1, 2 or 3 years old.

I often suspect they lack the knowledge and motivation to make greens work for their shop. They just buy a commodity like they are buying oregano.

Usually you may be able to get an OK green tea.

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:41

BrooklynBrew wrote:I don't know what your definition of good is,


  • the tea has at least a slight greenish tint to it
  • the tea isn't bitter
  • the tea doesn't taste like a cup of boiled lawn clippings

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby BrooklynBrew » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:51

beforewisdom wrote:
BrooklynBrew wrote:I don't know what your definition of good is,


  • the tea has at least a slight greenish tint to it
  • the tea isn't bitter
  • the tea doesn't taste like a cup of boiled lawn clippings


I've actually gotten this from Supermarket Japanese brands like Maeda-En. It's passable every day green tea (and better than some of the restaurant stuff I had in Japan . . . I couldn't taste the bancha they kept serving ever again. Just tasted like dirty water). I personally stay away from gourmet supermarkets that sell green tea because I've been burned there. I've had some sencha that tasted like no sencha ever. I threw the bag away.

But I've never had an issue with Yamamotoyama or Maeda-En.

But if you're able to order online, it's amazing the quality you can get from a good Japanese vendor. I am drinking Ippodo matcha these days and it's really great and I didn't need to spend a fortune on it.

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:56

BrooklynBrew wrote:But I've never had an issue with Yamamotoyama or Maeda-En.


I'm going to save those names, thank you. Supermarkets in my area are getting more sophisticated and there are a few Asian grocery stores around as well.

But if you're able to order online, it's amazing the quality you can get from a good Japanese vendor.


Agreed. I just started with o-cha.com. I got their sakura sencha, one of their cheapest, for about $11 and it blows away any other green tea I ever had.

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby ChengduCha » Apr 3rd, '13, 12:07

beforewisdom wrote:Is it possible and likely to get good quality green tea from a local tea shop?


That depends on the size of your city and it's population.

New York and San Fransisco for example have some good tea sellers, while you're probably not likely to find any decent ones in a smaller city.

You'll also always have to pay the brick and mortar markup compared to pure online businesses.

Those directly at the source in Japan and China will also always be able to offer more competitive rates (before shipping).

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby victoria3 » Apr 3rd, '13, 21:01

beforewisdom wrote:Is it possible and likely to get good quality green tea from a local tea shop?

I've had success, as well as a few failures, in local Los Angeles Japanese markets. The successes have been new crop/ Sinchas the vendor gets directly from Japanese farmers & most higher end; Ito-En, Maeda-En. Also, during the year they may import quality senchas directly from smaller farmers. My failures have been with lower end senchas that I may like once, or twice, but then are not consistent packet to packet. I'm still hoping there is a consistent quality lower priced sencha out there for my no-fuss work schedule.

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby hopeofdawn » Apr 4th, '13, 13:01

Just my two cents, but I think if you're located on the west coast (assuming you're in the U.S.), you stand a much better chance of finding good green tea in a shop than elsewhere. In Seattle, we seem to be very blessed with several tea shops that make every effort to get the best and freshest tea they can get their hands on--usually by making buying trips to the farmers themselves when the new crops come out. New Century Tea Gallery, Floating Leaves, and Seattle's Best Tea all come to mind. That said, I've found it's best to cultivate a relationship with a tea shop owner--if they do tastings, and they can tell you what harvest it is, where it came from, or when and where they (not a third party) bought it, chances are good that it will be a good green tea. If they give you a blank stare when you ask them this--then probably not.

One caveat--I've yet to find a tea shop in Seattle that sources good, fresh Japanese greens. They're all Chinese and Taiwanese, for the most part. The closest we have is Uwajimaya for Japanese teas and, well--they're a grocery store. An upscale one, but still. So I'd still go to O-cha or other online vendors first for Japanese tea, personally.

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Re: Are You Likely To Get Good Green Tea From A Tea Store?

Postby AdamMY » Apr 4th, '13, 13:19

hopeofdawn wrote:Just my two cents, but I think if you're located on the west coast (assuming you're in the U.S.), you stand a much better chance of finding good green tea in a shop than elsewhere. In Seattle, we seem to be very blessed with several tea shops that make every effort to get the best and freshest tea they can get their hands on--usually by making buying trips to the farmers themselves when the new crops come out. New Century Tea Gallery, Floating Leaves, and Seattle's Best Tea all come to mind. That said, I've found it's best to cultivate a relationship with a tea shop owner--if they do tastings, and they can tell you what harvest it is, where it came from, or when and where they (not a third party) bought it, chances are good that it will be a good green tea. If they give you a blank stare when you ask them this--then probably not.

One caveat--I've yet to find a tea shop in Seattle that sources good, fresh Japanese greens. They're all Chinese and Taiwanese, for the most part. The closest we have is Uwajimaya for Japanese teas and, well--they're a grocery store. An upscale one, but still. So I'd still go to O-cha or other online vendors first for Japanese tea, personally.



I am not sure if they have an actual brick and mortar store, but http://www.charaku-tea.com/index.php is in the Seattle area and has some good Japanese Green teas.

edit: Just found one of their business cards, sounds like they have a show room for teaware viewing and Tea Tasting by Appointment, and it's on 136th Street in Seattle.

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