No Bullshit Tea Companies

by Tony Gebely 294 views65


Someone recently asked me how many tea companies exist right now that have made a commitment to only sell pure tea. I didn’t have an answer, so I started searching, and with the help of my friends on Twitter and Reddit, I came up with the following list. The criteria for the list:

  • the tea company must sell tea in loose or compressed form only, no tea bags or sachets
  • all tea sold by the company must be unflavored, unscented, and free of inclusions with the following traditional exceptions being made:
    • Black tea flavored / scented with bergamot
    • White or green tea scented with jasmine
    • Tea with spice inclusions (masala chai)
    • Ginseng oolong
    • Chinese blooming teas
    • Genmaicha
  • tea companies that meet the above criteria and also have a separate section for herbal tisanes are allowed on the list
  • if a company meets all of the above criteria and has 2 or fewer  scented teas on their website, they may be allowed on the list

This is an experiment, if a company does not meet the above criteria, it will not be listed.

Asha Tea House

Es Green

The Essence of Tea

Floating Leaves


Hou De Asian Art & Fine Teas

In Pursuit of Tea


Jing Teashop

Life in Teacup

Little Red Cup

Mellow Monk

Min River Tea Farm

Norbu Tea

O5 Tea

Phoenix Tea Shop

Rare Tea Company

Red Blossom Tea Company

Seven Cups

Shang Tea

Silk Road Teas

Tao of Tea

Taiwan Tea Crafts


Tea from Taiwan

Tea Spring

Wan Ling Tea House

Yunnan Sourcing

Yuuki Cha

Vicony Teas

Am I missing any? Feel free to let me know what company I am missing and why you think they belong on this list.

Comments (65)

  1. According to the definition of “scented” tea, some house may be removes (such as Camelia sinensis). I checked here and there on your site and did not find a definition (did I missed it?).
    Is, for example, Earl Grey a “traditional scented tea”? Not in my definition. Yours?

  2. Maison des Trois Thés [House of 3 Teas] in Paris, France.
    Unfortunately no web site only as of now (but shop existing for nearly 15 years)

    1. Dah, nevermind – they do sell one compressed pu’erh square pack.

  3. Adagio Teas.

  4. Happy to not be on the list. Whilst the majority of selection are black blends, we enjoy adding an extra herbal or floral dimension.
    I guess that makes us a bullshit tea company

  5. Can’t believe I didn’t plug myself here earlier- Peony Tea S

  6. Hibiki-an is a Japanese tea vender from Uji. I’m pretty sure they only sell pure tea

  7. Don’t forget….. Committed to pure leaf tea, high grades and organic, directly from the tea garden….

  8. You’ve left out UK based LoveTea.

    They showcase a different loose leaf tea each month. All the teas are from one source and organic / fairtrade or EU equivalent.

    1. ‘They’ should be replaced with ‘we’ isn’t it?

  9. sTEAp Shoppe from Elk Grove, California is very strict!

  10. Would be happy to see in the list our tea company which deals in Pure Organic Darjeeling Teas only .

  11. Verdant Tea in Minneapolis MN! They are very serious about their tea!

    1. please read the post, this is a list for companies that sell only pure or traditional teas. Verdant sells a chocolate chai, so that counts them out.

  12. Mayang Tea

  13. Hi Tony,

    I enjoyed reading your website and found this link. We sell high quality tisanes from Thailand. In fact we supply to Postcard Teas also.Our flagship product is Green Mulberry Tea which we have received two international acclaims for Superior Taste in Belgium, 2008 and 2006.

    We are in the process of upgrading our website so the current one may seem a bit confusing and not updated enough.

    Our teas can also be found in two upscale restaurants in London, Les Deus Salon and The Providores. Currently we also make other 7 different infusions purely from Thai Herbal teas. We also import teas from several places with selective provenance and just signed a deal with a major hotel in Bangkok to supply for the whole chain.

    Let me know if I could supply you with any other information and maybe I can send you some sample.



  14. While flavoured and herbal teas do tend to discredit tea retailers for me, what I find worse is when retailers do not list the harvest date of their teas. they selling two year old green teas? One year old Pu-erhs? I made an exception for Chicago Tea Garden’s Sencha (I hope its reasonably fresh), but generally, if a store does not list harvest dates, I move on, regardless of how “pure” their teas are.

  15. What about MaikoTea ( ?

  16. Hi,
    My name is Max Silver and I would like to recommend my tea biz called, ‘Drink Your Tea’ –
    I am David Hoffeman’s apprentice, but now I operate my on small business importing seasonal teas from China. I personally travel to China about twice a year only bring back seasonal limited varietals (about 90% come from off the grid Mt. Farmers, who’s tea has never seen U.S. soil). Currently building my website myself, so its a slow process, but as far as tea goes i’m willing tea tasting showdown any day.
    Currently based in San Francisco and mostly doing wholesale to artisan coffee shops/medicinal stores.
    -Max Silver
    ‘Drink Your Tea’

  17. I would add Tea Habitat and HouDe.

    Imen has beautiful Phoenix Dan Cong’s. I recommend her samplers.
    Guang and Irene provide many nice teas and great service. Their pots seem to sell within hours!

  18. Verdant Tea is nothing short of amazing.

    1. please read the post, this is a list for companies that sell only pure or traditional teas.

  19. At The Silva Spoon, we sell a wide range of premium teas, both pure and flavoured.

    Japanese teas to begin with don’t really have flavored teas, at least i don’t know any :)

  21. Wild & Bare Co. (

  22. Anything wrong with They seem legit. Wait, nevermind. They have a flavored section. Still, I don’t know if this is the most reasonable way to sort people. I mean, if a company sells 1st rate pure tea, do I want to stop buying from them just because they sell other people “pear pomegranate flavored black tea”?

    1. this article was merely an experiment, to make a strict guideline and to see who fits within it. i’m not saying not to buy from people not on this list. many of my friends in the industry cannot survive unless they sell flavored tea.

    2. i live near tea trekker. i avoid them–way overpriced on everything and not very friendly at all. there are other choices–many actually.

    3. My thoughts exactly, Rick. While I don’t drink flavored teas or tisanes much, to suggest that Upton Tea Imports or Verdant are not dedicated to providing customers with the world’s best teas is ludicrous. A company may devote itself to only loose leaf, pure tea, but have a limited selection. From Upton I can choose between scores of Assams and Darjeelings, a variety of Ceylon, Chinese, Nepalese and Himalayan teas, among others. Limiting one’s purveyors based on a perjorative view of flavored teas is the definition of cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face.

      1. well, for one, the first line of this post explains why I’ve done this: “Someone recently asked me how many tea companies exist right now that have made a commitment to only sell pure tea. I didn’t have an answer, so I started searching, and with the help of my friends on Twitter and Reddit, I came up with the following list.”

  23. Perhaps take a look at Tea Pavilion’s selection that specializes in traditional China teas:

    1. Guter Tipp! Die Seite ist wirklich schick zum Tee bestellen und sowohl auf deutsch als auch auf englisch verfügbar.

  24. I like the philosophy of preferring unflavored teas and herbs, as I have a strong preference for these, and I tend to avoid flavored teas nearly (not entirely) universally (although I also like traditionally-scented teas and a few “flavored” teas involving the blending of whole ingredients).

    But I think this process would also exclude a lot of companies that I am just a really big fan of. A good example is Upton Tea Imports. I think their flavored teas are really lacking, in the sense that they include a lot of flavored teas among their offerings that contain artificial flavors (that, IMHO, is worse than extracts and essential oils). But I think Upton has some amazing offerings among their pure teas…they have a huge catalogue, and I’m continually surprised by the price and quality of various offerings, both on the lower end and the higher end.

    Another good example is Rishi Tea. They have a focus mostly on pure teas, but they do include some flavored teas. But I would not dismiss them for this reason.

    I think in general, it’s best to never dismiss a company just because they happen to sell one particular product you don’t like. It’s one thing if it’s a boycott for ethical reasons…for example, I know people who boycott Marriott because the company that owns them also owns private prisons and has engaged in some very questionable ethical practices with respect to them. And even though Marriott hotels aren’t prisons, I can see not wanting to put money into that. But flavored teas aren’t hurting anyone, so I would recommend to not cut yourself off from companies that sell outstanding pure teas, just because they also sell some flavored teas.

    1. for this list, yes, many companies were “dismissed” — the idea here was to make a strict criteria, and see how many companies fit into this criteria. many companies start out selling pure teas then realize they cannot make enough money to sustain their business without adding flavored teas, this post was an attempt to see how many companies exist that have made a commitment to selling only pure tea.

  25. Here in Buenos Aires i have to order specifically by name, or else they will always try to sell me blends.
    I like a few, very few blends,

  26. Vital Leaf Tea in San Francisco.

    1. What is it that makes you like them so much?
      They do sell this:
      Is it tea?

      1. The people who work there don’t BS you. They’re straight shooters and very helpful and insightful regarding health benefits. They have a large selection of teas and don’t try to push you to buy the expensive stuff, but they definitely carry some. They have some tisanes, like chrysanthemum and rose, which I think is included because of their benefits in beautifying skin. I find their tea quality to be excellent (I have yet to find other San Francisco/Bay Area tea sellers equal to this quality).

        1. Really?!? San Francisco has probably the most diverse tea culture in the states and the bay area probably has the greatest number of traditional Chinese tea stores and you think Vital Leaf has the best quality?!? Value notwithstanding, Imperial Tea Court, Teance, Far Leaves, Red Blossom and maybe even Samovar – just to name a few – carry some of the best quality tea in that area.

          Just sayin.

    1. definitely, thanks Marlena!

  27. Depends on your definition of “only pure teas”. Many of the vendors you’ve mentioned sell teas such as Earl Grey, and a few blends (Halcyon and Camellia Sinensis), however, their primary business is “pure” or “authentic” teas (i.e. unflavoured teas). I would also add Teance (Berkeley) and Floating Leaves (Seattle) to the list.

    I agree with Tom, above. Postcard Teas in the UK is remarkable and Tim has made a commitment to keeping traditions alive, sourcing very traditional teas from small producers. Canton Tea is also part of that effort and has some stellar teas.

    1. clicked on “submit” too soon.
      I would also add two Korean tea vendors – Dao Tea here on the West Coast (Canada) is wonderful. Pedro purchases directly from small scale traditional tea growers in Korea and Yunnan, and the wonderful Yoon Hee Kim of Hancha Tea.

      Thanks Tony.

      1. awesome. thanks Libby, I’m adding a few of these. Have a great holiday!

  28. Great list.

    I would add Shang Tea to that list…mainly since they own their own tea garden in Fujian. But I don’t know if they’d be disqualified for blending with honeysuckle, chrysanthemum and tangerine blossoms.

    1. perfect. i think this qualifies. thanks for the find geoff! have a great holiday!

  29. Awesome idea! I’d add In Pursuit of Tea:

    Great internet presence and a wonderful shop in NYC.

    1. okay. i’ll add ’em. thanks Gregory!

  30. Rishi Tea.
    Awesome company.

    1. Rishi disqualifies themselves as they have a number of flavored teas. Thanks though!

  31. Phoenix Tea would fit your criteria if it weren’t for the existence of our black tea with pure thyme leaf. But aside from that one, we only have one other “flavored” tea, which is a traditionally processed jasmine green. We do only sell loose leaf teas (and cakes, tuocha and bricks).

  32. How about Tea House Kuan Yin, Floating Leaves Tea and maybe Remedy Tea….all in Seattle, and all serve tea. Dobra tea (Czech Republic) with tea houses in the US (Madison, Wi) is my favorite.

    1. Hey Diane, Dobra tea’s website is down, I’ll add Floating Leaves, and Teahouse Kuan Yin sells a load of flavoreds as does remedy. Thanks!

  33. This is a super useful project you’ve taken on — thanks! I would add one, and subtract one.

    The one I would add is the Jing Tea Shop, . Beautiful, beautiful teas.

    The one I would subtract is Jas E. Unfortunately, though Jas eTea might be a no bullshit company in the “pure leaf” department, they have been known to engage in a bit of bullshit in the “stealing content from the Seven Cups website and putting it up on their own website” department. (They also seem to have deep-linked LOTS of images from Vicony Teas, but I don’t know if that is with, or without, Vicony’s permission…)

    Mikel discusses the plagiarism problem here:

    I’d like to say that it is possible that these indiscretions were originally perpetrated by a lazy website designer, but the buck really does have to stop somewhere… It would be interesting to see what the owner has to say about it:

    Anyway, sorry for the downer. Thanks again for a very handy list of shops to explore!

    1. David, I think that Tony must have meant to link to “your” Jing Tea site, not the one in his list. The British site Tony lists includes Vanilla tea, several Earl Grey variations and a white tea with rose buds, whereas the other Jing Tea does not. I think it’s just a mistake.

      1. Yes, I got the wrong Jing! Thanks! Will make the change.

    2. I know for a fact that JAS-eTea does not steal photos or content. He has permission from Vicony Tea and other sources for anything used on the site.

    1. They had a few flavored teas that disqualified them. Thanks Greg!

  34. Postcard Teas in London is absolutely fantastic:
    The owner is incredibly knowledgeable and is a really nice chap as well! Best tea shop in the UK

    1. Awesome, I’ll check ’em out!

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