How to Buy Loose Leaf Tea

Loose leaf tea is very diverse and is highly variable both in quality and price. Although the notion of the "best" tea is highly subjective and is largely a matter of personal taste, some teas are genuinely better than others, and often, the same or similar tea may be available from different companies for vastly different prices. This guide will give you a few ideas to help you locate the best teas for your own personal taste, for the best possible price.


  1. Image titled Buy Loose Leaf Tea Step 1
    Identify what qualities you are looking for in a tea. Even if you haven't tried much tea, you probably have an idea of your tastes:
    • Do you want a strong, black tea, a grassy green tea, or an oolong tea with a roasted aroma?
    • Do you prefer floral-scented teas, or deep, earthy, or malty qualities?
    • Do you want your tea to be bitter, sweet, tangy, strong or mild? Or subtle in flavor and mostly aromatic?
  2. Image titled Buy Loose Leaf Tea Step 2
    Learn a little about the different varieties of tea. Not only does tea come in green, black, oolong, white, and Pu-erh, which are broad classes of tea, but each of these teas comes in different varieties, often produced in different regions.
    • For example, Darjeeling and Assam are both teas from India, but Assam is strong and malty, whereas Darjeeling is lighter and floral. Green and oolong teas are similarly diverse.
  3. Image titled Buy Loose Leaf Tea Step 3
    Read online reviews, tea reviews, and tea community website before purchasing from a company. Check to see that people have ordered from a company, and that they have had good experiences with shipping and customer service, and that they have found the company's descriptions to be accurate and honest.
  4. Image titled Buy Loose Leaf Tea Step 4
    Experiment. Buy from a company that offers affordable sample sizes, and the first time you order, instead of ordering a lot of one or two types of tea, order a bunch of samples of many different kinds of tea. You will likely discover a few favorites, and you may find some teas you care less for. This way, the next time you order you'll have a better idea of how to select the best teas to suit your taste, or the taste of others whom you are buying tea for.


  • Look for whole tea leaves; if you see a lot of stems, crumbs, dust, and crushed leaves, then do not buy that tea. Knowing what a full-sized leaf of that tea is supposed to look like will help you on this.
Loose leaf Assam Green Tea after brewing may look like this
Medium Size High Quality Loose Leaf Assam Black Tea
  • How you brew the tea will be the deciding factor on how it tastes.


  • Do not buy from an online retailer unless you can verify that it is a legitimate retailer and that others have actually ordered from it. Legitimate tea companies usually offer a phone number, address, and clearly identify a business and owner name(s). Do some research on a company before buying from it, to check to see that the company has received recent mentions in blogs and/or community websites.

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Categories: Tea