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.