Whether you’re trying a new tea or revisiting one that you haven’t had for awhile, check out the vendor’s label on the package or, if there isn’t one, their information about the tea on their web site.
Even for teas with which you’re familiar, information about the tea could have changed. I have noticed this especially where steeping instructions are concerned, but there are other reasons to pay close attention to vendor labels.
- For flavored teas, you’ll want to check the ingredients, especially if you have allergies to things that could be used in them such as strawberries and nuts (some vendors don’t disclose everything in these teas, so you might have to email them and ask about the specific things you are allergic to)
- New thoughts on the best ways to steep certain teas have been coming out recently, with shorter steep times and sometimes lower water temperatures being recommended, so that new package of the tea you’ve been enjoying for a few years now could have revised steeping instructions
- Some vendors give you the option of steeping the tea the “English” way versus the “Chinese” way, each having its own merits (I recommend that if you can, you try both methods and see which you prefer)
- The trend toward marking teas with their tea garden/estate of origin and even the flush and year harvested is growing and can tell you a lot about what to expect in terms of aroma and flavor
Web sites for tea vendors are starting more and more to sport videos, showing basic information about the tea and how to steep it to get the best taste. These can be even better than the labels and are worth a few minutes of your time to view.
While you’re at it, you might want to check out the vendor’s About Us page to get a better idea of who they are. Many of these pages are little more than some marketing jargon, but others actually give you the owner’s name and how he or she approaches tea.
Happy tea steeping and shopping!
© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.