Unless you live in Asia, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find good quality teas in your area. For most of us, that means we need to look to the internet, but given the sheer number of retailers out there, determining the best place to buy tea online is not an easy task.
To hopefully help make things a bit easier, I have reviewed a few of the best and/or most popular online tea stores and compared them in the table below (you’ll find a quick explanation of the criteria I used for the ratings at the bottom of this post).
Tea Store Reviews
|Adagio Teas||Generation Tea||Art of Tea||Matcha Source||Silver Leaf Tea||Mighty Leaf Tea||Teavana|
|Conclusion||The best retailer for beginners: easy to use, good selection, good quality, many samples and a great community.
|The place to get the highest quality Chinese teas, including Pu’er.
Recommended for the highest quality teas.
|Great retailer with an excellent selection of high quality teas at good prices.
|The best place to buy matcha and matcha accessories.
Highly recommended for matcha.
|The place to get cheap teas.
Recommended for cheap teas.
|Great all-around retailer.||The largest retailer, with a good selection and generally good quality.|
Among all the online tea vendors, Adagio gives the most professional impression. It has the slickest and most user-friendly website, as well as a great community that offers reviews on all the selections and discusses tea related issues in a chat room and forum. They ship orders very quickly and offer free shipping on large orders (currently over $49).
Adagio offers a few high quality teas, but for the most part, their teas are aimed at the average consumer. The quality is always good though and their prices are excellent. They have a great selection and you can get sample packs of all their teas. The biggest drawback, to me, is the absence of matcha among their offerings.
Overall, Adagio is a great online shop for those new to tea or anyone not looking for anything too specialized. They are my second favorite retailer after Art of Tea. <<Link to website>>
Art of Tea
Very similar to Adagio, Art of Tea have a good selection of quality teas at affordable prices. In general, I feel their teas are slightly higher quality than Adagio, which is why I prefer Art of Tea overall. They have a few more teas in the very high quality range too and, more importantly to me, they offer matcha. Inexpensive sample packs are available for all teas.
Art of Tea’s website is not a nice as Adagio’s, but none are. It is still quite user-friendly, with reviews on all products and great customer service. They offer free flat rate shipping on orders over $50. This is my favorite online tea shop. <<Link to website>>
Mighty Leaf Tea
Another good online retailer, Mighty Leaf has a good selection with a few standouts. Their website has reviews of their offerings, but they unfortunately only offer sample packs for a few of their teas. Their shipping times are good, but a little slower than Adagio or Art of Tea. Orders over $50 ship free. I can recommend Mighty Leaf, but they are not my favorite. <<Link to website>>
Silver Leaf Teas
Silver Leaf Teas do not have a very attractive website and their selection isn’t that good either. The only reason I included them here is their prices. They are incredibly low and while the quality is naturally also lower, sometimes that’s all you need. If you’re just using the tea to make large batches of iced tea or to fill up a thermos to drink on the go, etc, you don’t need an especially high quality tea. In that case, I recommend Silver Leaf Teas. Free shipping on orders over $75. <<Link to website>>
This company specializes in very high quality teas from China, including Pu’er tea. If that’s what you’re looking for, I highly recommend Generation Tea; if not, buy elsewhere. Their website is very basic and they do not offer free shipping. <<Link to website>>
As the name suggests, this company specializes in matcha and matcha accessories. Their website is nice, but not the nicest and they offer free shipping on orders over $75. If you’re looking to buy matcha or anything related to matcha, I highly recommend Matcha Source. <<Link to website>>
This is probably the biggest and most well-known online tea shop. As such, they do everything well, but they’re not the best at anything. The quality is good, but not as good as Adagio and Art of Tea, especially considering the prices. The website is pretty good and I haven’t had any problems with them, but I have read quite a few complaints online on other tea blogs. Overall, I have no real reason not to recommend them, but I definitely prefer other retailers. <<Link to website>>
Selection: Of course this includes the number of teas on offer, but it also takes into account the balance of products offered.
Quality: This refers to the overall quality of teas on offer, when compared to similar teas on other sites. A lower rating is not necessarily bad, if the retailer specializes in lower quality teas and has the prices to match (Silver Leaf, for example).
Price: The lower the rating, the higher the average price of the teas on offer. This category should be considered in conjunction with ‘Quality’. If a store’s price and quality rating are equal, you can expect to get your money’s worth. If the quality is higher than the price, the teas on offer are an especially good value; if the price rating is higher than quality, the value is not so good.
Usability: This category takes into account the aesthetic appeal of the website, the ease of use and understanding of the site, the shipping charges and delivery speed, as well as the overall customer service experience.
Community: This refers mainly to the activity of other customers on the site. A high score indicates a lot of interaction, with customers posting reviews and, as is the case with Adagio, participating on a dedicated forum and chat rooms.