If you haven’t yet figured it out, we here at Plum Deluxe are crazy passionate about our tea. Of course we love our own blends, but we’re constantly seeking out the best loose leaf tea and teamakers in our quest for the perfect cup. What have we found so far? We’re about to share our top 6 independent US teamakers with you.
Kari Dandrea of West Chester, PA rivals yours truly in her love of the leaf (which is a difficult feat because I have opinions — just ask my fellow staff members). She started Pureblend because she wanted a fresh, pure cup of tea that nourished her body and soul. All of her teas and herbs come from USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified growers and help to support small family farms. Try her Egyptian Lime Hibiscus or Jasmine Lavande for a soothing, meditative sip, or check out the Superior Grade matcha for a special treat.
Love & Tea
Here at Plum Deluxe, we’ve been known to say that a cup of tea is a work of art, but in this case, we mean it literally. The packages from Love & Tea are so beautiful you might not want to open them — but please do, because these luxurious teas are meant to be enjoyed. The company has a wide array of blends, from Celebration Love to Holiday Cheer, all lovingly handcrafted. The packaging is not the only attention to detail; each blend is produced in small batches with organically grown or ethically wildcrafted teas and herbs.
Random Tea Room
Rebecca Goldschmidt of Philadelphia runs my favorite tea room, ever. I’ve long credited her for my interest in blending tisanes, which began after my first visit to The Random Tea Room. Their extensive variety of herbal infusions are blended in-house, and their tea list is full of top-notch loose leaf brews from around the world. They’re well known for their chai, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try the Pu-Erh or one of the Chinese Reds. If you go for the Gyokuro Asahina, my personal choice, you just might break into song.
Bare Tea began the way so many wonderful things do: with a late-night conversation between friends. They are a relative newcomer to the steeped brew scene, but their focus on simple luxuries as the true joy of life — a philosophy that is oh, so Plum Deluxe — has helped them to stand out. All of their tea is organic and high quality, and it smells amazing (I was lucky enough to check it out in person this past fall). Try the Yunnan Gold or Ti Kuan Yin in loose leaf, or the Japanese Sencha or Masala Chai in their whole leaf sachets.
Know that loose leaf tea is so much better but can’t get past the logistical challenge? Fear not — Portland, Oregon’s Steven Smith is there to rescue you with creative, top-shelf quality, artisan tea, neatly bagged for dinner parties or on the go. His selection is better than that of many grocery store brands, with some excellent Ceylon teas (great for cooking, such as our Ceylon Shortbread Circles recipe) as well as several wonderful herbal blends. Smith’s teas are so nicely packaged, they also double as gifts with a touch of class.
If you like a little history behind your brew, you’ll love Capital Teas run by Manelle Martino, the fifth generation of her family to be involved in the tea trade. Her great-great-grandfather was a tea pioneer in the 1870s, and Manella follows in his footsteps with teas that encourage drinkers to explore flavors and complexity with her many blends. We recommend the Mexican Mango Chili Maté and the Apple Strudel fruit tisane.
Photo Credits: Pureblend Tea, Love & Tea, Jesse Moore, author, amazon.com, and author.