It was my good fortune to stumble upon a tea company at the end of last year - an online merchant, who is quickly becoming my new favorite. I rarely do recommendations but this is well-worth your time and interest, so check it out: Essencha.
You gotta love their name, which the website (under tea house info) explains:
Just as our name implies, we chose to focus on the "essence of tea (cha)": water, fire, leaves, and you, freeing you to create your own tea experiences and rituals. At Essencha, we find joy in the celebration of the mundane, believe in the beauty of the simple and natural implicit in tea culture, and are eager to share this with the world.
From the enticing (and accurate) photos of the product, to the helpful (and oft amusing) descriptions, you can feel confident with each purchase. The site is easy to navigate, the hardest part is choosing which (how many) teas to purchase. and did I mention that they have a full satisfaction guarantee?
I got my order last week of the Monkey Picked Oolong, and I couldn't be happier. Its legendary name refers to Buddhist monks who trained monkeys to harvest the youngest leaves from the top of the wild tea trees. Now, never having ordered from them before, ordering what is known to be among the highest quality of oolong may have been risky, but as I said before, everything about Essencha is quality and it shows. From their website to their packaging to select choice of teas....Quality - and isn't that why we drink tea in the first place? To truly enjoy the experience?
They are opening a Tea House in the Spring of 2006 in Cincinnati, Ohio. I've never thought of visiting Ohio before, but I may just have to. And if any of my readers happen to live around those parts, do me a favor and send me your review.
So, if you'll excuse me I 'm going to have tea with my Monkey!