Tea is an interesting commodity in that it really is both widely sold online, and in brick-and-mortar stores. Whether you’re a die-hard tea enthusiast or lifetime tea drinker, or are just entering into the drink, you may be wondering whether it’s a better choice to buy through online retailers, or local tea shops.
Right here I give a guide to help you choose choice works best for you.
Pros and cons of purchasing online
Buying tea online has the advantage of opening up a staggering amount of variety. Nearly all tea companies have online stores, and with increased globalization, it is actually possible to find companies that direct-ship from countries of tea manufacturing, such as China or India. Shopping online also opens up the possibility for buying the top-quality loose-leaf artisan teas.
There are several disadvantages to online shopping. One is shipping; thankfully, for tea, this cost is usually relatively low, but it could be substantial when you only want to order a small amount. Online shopping is not suited for a small or casual purchase of a single item; it only makes sense for bulk ordering. When delivery overseas, where costs might operate as high as $15 for a box associated with teas, you need to make an even larger purchase to make the balance worthwhile.
An additional disadvantage is that the staggering amount of variety can be intimidating. How do you know what business to buy from when there are literally hundreds to choose from? And many of these companies, in turn, have hundreds of teas in their catalogs.
Buying online is best when you wish to buy a relatively large shipment of loose-leaf tea, when you already have a concept of what you are looking for, when you are price-conscious and want to get the best quality and the cheapest prices.
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Pros and cons of buying an the brick-and-mortar store
Local brick and mortar stores offer a very different sort of advantages over online buying. One is sampling: you can see, and often smell (and in some shops, even brew and taste) the products you are interested in, before buying them. The face-to-face contact with staff, often the owner within very small businesses, can be useful too, particularly if the employees are knowledgeable. Local businesses can also impart a sense of local community, so you’re not just buying green tea, but contributing to the local community in your city or town. And lastly, if you live near a business, it is easy to drop within casually for a quick, small buy of a single item.
The biggest disadvantage of local stores is lack of accessibility. Many people in the U. S. may live near any stores marketing good loose-leaf tea. Some stores might have a good selection, but not possess the best quality or freshness of their tea. Other tea shops might be great, but not cover the sort of item you’re looking for (British tea culture and Japanese tea culture, for example , can be pretty non-overlapping).
So what makes sense for me personally?
My quick answer would be: this will depend. It depends on what you’re looking for, and it depends upon where you live and what sorts of businesses are near you. Buying online is better for loose tea, the best quality, getting the best offers, and making large purchases. Buying locally is best for supporting your local neighborhood, having face-to-face interactions, seeing the product you’re getting up-close, and for producing small, casual purchases.
Alex Zorach is the founder and editor of RateTea, a social review web site for tea drinkers. The site has a wealth of information about different styles plus regions of production, lists of manufacturers, and reviews of specific tea, as well as local place reviews. Visit our tea map to find nearby businesses in your area.