The Best Teas in the World: Part One

Note: These articles cover only of a fraction of the companies that I purchased tea from, and only a few teas from each, but please understand that over the past several years, I've tried hundreds of teas from dozens of places. I decided to focus for these articles only on the top tea sources and the top teas.

Read Part Two: here. And read Part Three, here. And you can read Part Four, here. And read my new Part Five here.


In this life, I have been blessed with both a great sense of smell and an acute sense of taste. That's probably why my chocolate creations have been so well received.

In 1998, I dove "head first" into the world of tea after watching the wonderful Les Blank documentary: All In This Tea showing the passionate journey of David Lee Hoffman to discover the finest teas in China and find a way to bring them to America.

Shortly thereafter, I went to the website of the tea company that he founded (which he has since moved on from), called Silk Road Teas and ordered a few samplers.

Of the teas I tried from them, I found three to be particularly outstanding (although all of their teas are very fine):

Their Jasmine Pearls are incredible. A perfect blend of Jasmine and tea, of the highest quality.

I also was surprised by the sweet purity of their Anxi Oolong tea.

Finally, their Golden Monkey tea has a rich flavor almost chocolatey.

Now I was on the road.

And I went a bit wild, trying teas from many companies, in a search to find the very best.

When I was in my early twenties, I found myself thirsting for fine Darjeeling tea. At the time, my search was unfulfilled, because I couldn't find any noteworthy Darjeeling teas anywhere.

During 1999, however, my quest ended, as I discovered many wonderful Darjeeling teas and some truly transcendental.

My first stop was Upton Teas. This is a great company. They not only have a huuuuuge selection of teas of all types, but have a money-back guarantee policy (which they fulfill without question) and they offer inexpensive samplers for every tea in their listing.

Their samplers enabled me to try dozens and dozens of teas without "breaking the bank" and are a truly delightful way to find the perfect teas for you.

And among their teas I found the best Darjeeling ever: Sungma Estate organic second flush Darjeeling. (Second flush means harvested in the June or July, the best time for well-rounded Darjeeling flavor.) You can see their Sungma Estate Darjeeling listing here.

Interestingly enough, I found the same tea at another fine Darjeeling-only website based in India called Golden Tips Tea. They require a minimum order of $75, but provide free, fast shipping from India and have great prices, and their superlative Sungma Estate Darjeeling is available each year.

I also love their Margaret's Hope Darjeeling -- my second favorite Darjeeling, which is both truly excellent and very inexpensive. Visit their website by clicking on the above logo to find out more about their teas.

While Golden Tips Tea is certainly worth exploring if you love Darjeeling teas, Upton Teas "takes the cake" for its wide range of teas from India, China, Formosa, Kenya, Japan, Nepal, and more.

Among the very many Upton Teas that I really like are:

The Arya Estate Early Flush Darjeeling, which has the best qualities of all three tea-harvesting seasons: the brightness of First Flush, the body of Second Flush, and the mellowness of Autumnal. Read about it here.

I also love the taste (and expansiveness) of their organic Arya Ruby, which you can read about here.

For a completely different type of tea, that is both lightly earthy and mellow and sweet, you might try their organic green puer tea described here. This tea is both grounding and awakening.

Finally, if you want a more "ordinary" black tea that is simply well-done, several of their Ceylon teas come to mind. Try the Shawlands Estate Ceylon tea listed here.

After deeply exploring Upton Teas catalog, I then decided to range further.

I discovered a delightful tea store in Canada called the Tea Centre, and while the shipping fees are a bit higher, some of their teas are truly exceptional and worth getting.

For example, the Sun Moon Lake tea is a black tea from Taiwan (most Taiwan teas are oolong teas) and it is truly outstanding, with a unique flavor that gets better and better with every sip. Click here to learn more.

Also amazing is a wild tea from a region of the Yunnan (the birthplace of tea) from a government-protected tea forest that has been unaltered for over 1,000 years. As I drank this tea, I felt the consciousness of the ancient trees whose leaves these were. Wow! Click here and go to the bottom of the list: Yunnan Wild Harvest Tea (Organic) to get this tea.

Finally, the Tea Centre introduced me to Queen Elizabeth's favorite tea: An oolong so fully oxidized that it tastes like a lemony Darjeeling and is truly wonderful. Click here and go to the Bai Hao Oolong # 07-22 "Organic" near the middle of the page.

My final tea stop, which actually has a quality of teas so stunning that it inspired me to write this article, was Seven Cups teas.

Right off, they impressed me with their dedication to tea growers -- helping them get organically certified, and to tea itself, working to find the very best teas available.

I placed an order, and all of the teas were exceptionally pure in taste, and quite wonderful.

Among my favorites were:

Alishan Tong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) Taiwan Oolong 2007. When I drank my first cup of this tea, I was filled with happiness. It was as if I was "listening to a choir of angels". This is a truly perfect oolong tea. Perfect.    This tea is available here (they also have the same tea from 2008, but it's not quite as good).

Their Jasmine Pearls Scented Tea 2008 is a white tea scented with Jasmine. (White teas are the young unprocessed buds, considered exceptionally healthful.) This quickly rose to the top of my Jasmine tea collection. It is organic, pure, and has a perfect balance of Jasmine and tea flavors. Go here to get it.

I have just started to enjoy green teas. Right now I have two favorites: I love the "supersencha green tea" from Upton teas (click here to learn more about this one).

My second favorite is the Seven Cups Yu Qian An Ji Bai Cha (White Tea) Green Tea (Organic) 2009, which is amazingly fragrant, mellow, smooth, and open, and a truly lovely green tea. You can get it here, or look at their other Yu Qian An Ji Bai Cha tea which is less expensive here.

Drinking exceptional teas has become a spiritual ritual for me. I love sharing tea with others, and experiencing the Light and magic that a cup of really fine tea can bring.

In the year 2000, I "graduated" from darjeeling teas to oolongs, perhaps the most amazing teas in the World. I have written several new web pages on the best oolong teas. Read Part Two: here. And read Part Three, here. And you can read Part Four, here. And read my new Part Five here.

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