Shopping for Oolong tea: Where to buy Oolong tea in Taiwan?

old tea store cardTaiwan is famous for its Oolong tea. Oolong is on many visitors' must buy or gift list when they come to Taiwan. In this country, tea is an essential part of everyday local culture. You will see people selling tea almost everywhere: city streets, night markets, morning markets, supermarkets, department stores, shopping malls, and tea farms.

Department stores and shopping malls

Tea shops in departments stores and shopping malls tend to be well known brands. Those places are often selling higher priced tea, but also very select varieties. If you don't mind the prices, and just want to get some tea quick, then these fine tea shops are a convenient place to buy tea.

 

The best thing about those tea shops is that the staff are usually very welcoming and helpful if you want to try their tea (because that's the department store style, and anyway, they make a fairly good profit margin from sales)

Supermarkets

You will also find tea in local supermarkets (e.g. Welcome, Song Ching), or high-end supermarkets (e.g. Jasons, CitySuper). Tea is mostly prepacked in those shops, and tea in tea bag form is usually sold in those channels. Experienced tea drinkers or experts would probably never buy tea from supermarkets. They judge the quality of the tea by its color, smell, shape. I don't think you find very good tea in these places.

Markets

If you walk around morning or night markets, there are also many tea stands. Their tea prices are relatively low in most cases. The owners are also very welcoming, brewing tea fresh for the shoppers to try. You will see big bags of tea set up open in front of the stand. But because the tea isn't sealed up, the tea fragrance will easily disappear. I think the owners don't really care about their tea enough. Therefore I don't have much confidence in their tea.

Tea shops

Independent tea shops are generally reliable places to buy tea. If you have local friends, they will be happy to recommend a good tea shop that they use. Tea shops usually offer teas with a wide range of prices. The staff will try to find out what sort of tea you prefer, what sort of tea you usually drink, and what price range you would like to spend; and then they will pick a couple of types of tea, and make them fresh for you to try.

If you don't have any preference, some very well known tea shops are worth trying, like: Wang Tea, Wang De Chuan. They have experience in selling tea to foreign guests, and they will help you to learn more about their tea, instead of just trying to sell something quickly.

Tea houses

A tea house is a place to sit and drink good tea, similar to a Western coffee shop. If you are visiting a tea house, you'll notice they also sell tea leaves to take away. Their tea is usually fine, but I usually find them too expensive and the quality does not match the price.

Tea farms

Tea farms are also very good places to buy tea, because you are right at the source. Many Taiwanese people buy their tea from tea farms or plantations, just like people buy wine from vineyards in other countries. Tea buyers like to know who planted the tea, how the tea is produced, and they especially enjoy the privilege of getting their tea from a special source.

Read more articles about making tea

Read about our tea-making class

 

Photo by Joyce Tay

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