Multiple sets of white tea tastings sets with brewing cup, tasting cup, spoon and brown trays of dry tea leaves in front of them.

Discovering the Perfect Leaves: Our Journey to Curate Your Next Favorite Tea

Michele Lillie

Welcome to the heart of our tea shop, where every leaf tells a story, and every blend holds a promise. As guardians of a rich tea tradition fused with contemporary zest, we're here to guide you through our meticulous process of selecting the teas that grace our shelves and, eventually, your cup. It's a journey of discovery, evaluation, and passion, ensuring that every sip you take is not just a drink but an experience. Let's embark on this journey together.

Two female staff members standing behind a counter and in front of a display of tea canisters and both holding teapots

The Hunt for Unique Leaves

Our quest begins in the sprawling tea gardens of the world, from the misty mountains of China to the lush estates of India and the verdant fields of Japan. We partner with over 15 tea suppliers, who, with their seasoned palates and deep reverence for tea culture, dive into this verdant world, seeking out the unique, the exceptional, and the genuinely inspiring. We also love teas that tell a story of their land, their people, and the traditions that birthed them.

English Tealeaves currently carries over 130 teas in six different categories. We are constantly looking for teas that represent both traditional offerings as well as exciting new options that will tempt our customers to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

We also look to delight you with selections that represent the seasons, whether it be Spring teas, Fall teas or Holiday offerings. These teas undergo the same testing even though they are only around for a limited time.

Green tea bushes in front and views over the mountains and valleys

The Art of Evaluation

Bringing these teas into our shop marks the beginning of a rigorous evaluation process. It's here that our expertise and our commitment to quality shine the brightest. Each tea undergoes a comprehensive assessment that goes beyond mere taste. We delve into its aroma, color, leaf structure, as well as the story behind its creation. This sensory journey helps us understand not just the tea but also the care and craft that went into its cultivation and processing.

Brewing and Tasting: The Heart of Our Selection

The true essence of tea reveals itself in the brewing. Our team brews each contender under precise conditions, respecting its unique requirements to unveil its best flavor profile. Through a series of tastings, we explore its layers, nuances, and the potential it holds to enchant our customers. It's a process of exploration and respect, ensuring we understand each tea's personality and promise.

Curating With Care: Making the Final Choice

Choosing the teas that make it to our shelves is a decision we don't take lightly. It's not just about the flavor but how a tea fits into our ethos of bringing timeless traditions to the modern tea lover. We consider feedback from our community, always listening to the preferences and desires of those we serve. A tea must not only be exceptional in quality and flavor but also resonate with our customers, offering them a new avenue of exploration and enjoyment.

The Teas That Don't Make the Cut

Not every tea we encounter in our journey can join our curated collection. Those that don't make the cut often fall short in one of our critical evaluation areas—be it in flavor complexity, ethical sourcing, or their ability to resonate with our diverse community. However, this doesn't mark the end of our relationship with these teas. We continually revisit our selections, always open to rediscovering a tea's potential in a new light.

A Typical Tea Evaluation

Let’s delve into more detail about how we, at English Tealeaves, decided on a recent seasonal tea menu. It started by looking at the teas offered by all of our suppliers, noting country of origin, tea category, flavor profiles, seasonality and ingredient lists. This means that we considered hundreds of teas before deciding what might work for us.

We brought in samples of over 60 teas for evaluation. Five to six staff members attended each evaluation session.  We looked at the appearance of the dry leaves for color, size and shape while also noting the aroma. The teas are brewed under precise and consistent instructions. Before we taste anything, we again note appearance and aroma. What color is the brew, what is its intensity and how does it compare to other similar teas? Once brewed, the aroma will be stronger and we note that. We finally taste each tea paying attention not only to flavor but also to body, smoothness, bitterness, astringency and aftertaste. Each of the staff members rates the tea on an identical scale. Only those teas that rate highly move on to the next step.

Of those 60 teas we started with, we narrowed down our selection to maybe ten contenders. These then went head-to-head in another evaluation. We also considered the uniqueness of the tea and how it complemented our seasonal theme. We aim to end up with five to eight delicious, quality teas representing as many different categories as possible. These are the ones we present to our customers for their enjoyment.

Your Invitation to Explore

This meticulous process of selection and evaluation is more than just a method—it's a passion and a promise from us to you. Each tea on our shelves is a gateway to a new experience, a new story, and a new appreciation for the incredible diversity of the tea world.

We invite you to explore these curated wonders with us, to step into a journey of taste, tradition, and discovery. Whether you're a seasoned enthusiast or new to the world of tea, we're here to guide you, to inspire you, and to find that perfect tea that speaks to your soul.

Welcome to our world. Welcome to your next tea discovery.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.