Friday, 7 December 2012

How to Buy Tea

     Talking to some of my friends I've realised that for some people, ordering at a loose leaf tea store can be quite confusing and essentially overwhelming if you have never done it before. I know I was scared the first time I bought at Teaopia. So I decided I should write an entry with helpful instructions for all of my troubled viewers.
     This guide will not be suitable for all loose leaf tea stores but majority of the ones I have been to operate in a similar fashion.
     First off, before going to the store you should decide what you plan on buying, a cup of tea, and bag of tea to go, or some tea ware? Maybe you want to do all three. If you want a physical object like a mug or steeper they are usually just placed on shelves throughout the store and you purchase them as you would at a regular department store, paying at the cash.
     Now ordering tea involves a slightly more advanced method. It is hoped that you have some knowledge of tea when purchasing but even that's not mandatory. Most employees are happy to help you (tea people are always friendly!) it is just the matter of asking them the right questions.
      You obviously can't go up the the employee behind the counter and ask for a "Regular tea" because simply, there is no such thing. Like I've mentioned in a previous post, stores like Teavana or David's Tea offer tea in a variety of different categories; green, white, black, oolong, herbal, mate, and pu'reh are all possible sections (they are usually colour coded). If you don't know what type of tea suits you best, check out my Core Four post which should shed some light on things.
     Then in each category you have a handful of differed teas, flavoured teas, hand picked natural leaves, fruit teas, nut teas, dessert teas. From there you can simply ask your server what they prefer, because they do know a lot and odds are they have tasted most of them. For example you can ask them something like, "What is your best chocolate tea?" or "Do you have anything with mango in it?". When they find a match to your request they will let you smell the leaves to make sure it is what you're looking for.
     Once you've decided on a tea you can either get a bag to go or a cup to drink. After selecting a tea you simply state the weight in which you want to buy the leaves (50 grams is the standard amount, which should last you a few months) or you tell the the temperature of the cup you want to drink, hot or iced. (You can get fancy as well with lattes or smoothies). If you are drinking the tea they will ask you for anything you want added to it, as in milk or sugar.
       Then you let the tea steep, pay the price and that's it, you're done! Now wasn't that easy? It's not as scary as it looks and never assume that all tea employees are snobs. They won't judge you for you lack of knowledge in the subject, they'll aid you and welcome you to the tea-drinking community. 
     Hope this 'tutorial' helps you, and let me know in the comments if you have any further questions!     

-Sarah Collie

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