Growing up, I had never heard of white tea. My exposure to tea was pretty limited as my selection was confined to what I could get at my local grocery store. This meant your typical boxes of green tea bags, like Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings. I'm not going to say these are terrible, because I enjoy all kinds of tea, but I knew there was way more to the tea world than what was sitting in my pantry. To get the full picture of how I stumbled across white tea, I need to tell you a bit about myself…
Since I was young, I've always been interested in health, fitness, longevity etc. I don't remember exactly when or why I started drinking tea, but I've always felt that the connection between tea and health was perhaps the impetus that brought the first cup into my hands. Anyway, fast-forward like 10 years or so and I'm a college student still drinking the exact same brands of tea. My interest was still in longevity and health so I guess I really hadn't changed that much since I was a kid. But, a lot of other things had changed in that last 10 years, such as the internet. I forgot to tell you, but I also have this insatiable appetite for research, which has been totally accommodated by the growing collection of research available on the internet. Looking back, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time reading research papers on my favorite subjects, tea included. One thing that kept popping up in tea research was this totally mysterious type of tea called white tea, which sounded like some sort of ultra potent health tonic. I probably don't need to spell it out, but "potent health tonic" plus "mysterious and rare tea" equals uncontrollable curiosity. At the same time, I was also reading about high quality green teas, like Dragonwell and Gyokuro. More research was in order, because I had to find where to get this stuff. I shopped around online and found Silver Needle and Dragonwell, both shockingly expensive, and a Gaiwan with which to brew them. I ordered them. So, they arrived, and I was pumped. It's hard to explain the difference between something like Bigelow green tea, and a hand crafted Silver Needle or Dragonwell, but if you have had these teas which occupy opposite ends of the spectrum, you know exactly what I'm getting at. Again, not to disparage the popular grocery store brands, but these teas taste like they aren't even related. I was, in a word, hooked.
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My jump into premium tea was really a headfirst dive. I somehow managed to try two of the greatest teas to come out of China on my first go. The contrast between what I had been drinking, and what I stumbled upon was so stark that in a sense, I didn't really have a choice but to never look back. I never did. Since then, I have had countless incredible teas, including but not limited to a variety of Oolong, Pu'erh, Dragonwell (some authentic, some not), Gyokuro and a huge selection of Sencha. I really love all these teas but there is one tea that has always stood out for me. It has always occupied the most prominent position in my tea cabinet and by far the one I consume most frequently, since having tasted it for the first time over a decade ago. That tea is Silver Needle.
Aside from tasting all those lovely teas, I have tried more than my share of Silver Needle and other white teas. In the last few years, I've found myself drawn more and more to my favorite tea and I have gotten pretty familiar with the differences in quality, flavor, origins, processing methods and cultivars. I have a lot of friends that enjoy tea and I've always loved to share my teas and experiences with them. As my knowledge grew, there came a point where extending my compulsion to share these teas by way of an online store and blog was the next logical next step. Since then, I've met some really great people in the tea world, growers, distributors etc., that I have partnered with to offer the highest quality white tea at the lowest price possible.
Here is the truth… It has taken me a long time to learn about Silver Needle and the world of white tea. While my knowledge of other teas is well above average, at this point, I am not knowledgeable enough to feel comfortable selling them because I can't know for certain what the quality is. I just don't have enough experience with Oolong or Pu'erh to be confident that I am offering the best product I can. I'm not sure how other tea companies have become experts in so many varieties, but to be perfectly honest, after having many white teas from my competitors, I'm not convinced they are. And that's fine, but when I started South Coast Tea, I made a simple decision on day one. I would do things differently and only sell tea I personally have vetted and was knowledgeable about. For that reason, we specialize in white tea, and I think we do it better than anyone else.
I truly believe that our teas will meet or exceed that of any of our competitors in terms of quality, flavor, enjoyability and price. I say this because South Coast Tea was born out of my personal search for the highest quality products. These are the teas that I look forward to drinking on a daily basis. My promise to you is that we will never compromise on quality and will consistently offer the best products we can find so we can share them with you at amazing prices. We hope you consider South Coast Tea next time you shop for premium white tea.