Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Featured Tea Company: Hampstead Tea

In addition to starting a series featuring tea bloggers, I am also starting a series featuring tea companies.

Today's tea company is Hampstead Tea. Hampstead Tea is based in the UK, and accordingly, is not well-known in the US. The company has a small selection of teas, and specializes in organic, fair trade, and biodynamic teas, also focusing on whole-leaf, loose-leaf teas, although they also sell whole-leaf tea in sachets. My experience has been that people in the U.S. tend not to know of this company; I rarely hear or read people commenting about it, and as of writing this post, there are no reviews of Hampstead on RateTea other than my own. Since my audience is primarily in the U.S., I'd like to draw attention to this company.

I don't know if Hampstead sells tea directly outside of the UK (their website's prices are in pounds), but a quick search with Google Products shows that their teas are easily available for ordering in the U.S., and, as I describe below, I have even seen them in stores here.

How did I learn about this company?

I learned of this company through a rather unusual means, through the discount food section in TJ Maxx. TJ Maxx is a discount store best known for selling clothing (which constitutes an overwhelming majority of the store's stock). But these stores also sell some food products, and among them, typically sell some tea. The tea selection is very hit-or-miss; the few times I have been in the store, I haven't found anything I wanted to buy. But one time, my dad saw some Darjeeling tea from Hampstead Tea, certified both organic and fair trade, and picked it up for me.

When I tried it, I was impressed. The tea was from Makaibari Estate, which I wrote about previously, and which is my favorite Darjeeling estate, both by flavor and by its ecologically-friendly practices. And when I looked up the price of the tea sold by Hampstead, I was also impressed: it was quite reasoanble.

How good was their Darjeeling? I'll just say it was one of those teas that I kept wanting to drink every morning until it was gone, and then wished I had more of. I later tried their English Breakfast, and it was also quite good (although lighter than typical for this style) and I used it up rather quickly as well, although I preferred their Darjeeling.

What do I like about Hampstead Tea?

  • Their loose-leaf Darjeeling is unparalleled in quality in its price range.
  • Hampstead focuses on organic, fair-trade, and biodynamically grown teas.
  • Hampstead offers an unusual combination of a company that is rooted solidly in the British tea tradition, yet is a leader both in terms of organics and fair-trade, and the quality and value of its tea.

So, if you value sustainability and like Darjeeling tea, and you have an opportunity to pick up something from Hampstead, I'd recommend doing so. I have yet to try anything other than their Darjeeling or English Breakfast, so I'd be curious to see if their other teas are also good as well.

Have you heard of Hampstead Tea or tried their teas?

I'm a bit many of you all knew of this company? How many of you have tried their teas? Have you tried anything other than the two teas of theirs that I sampled? And how many of you are learning about this company for the first time?

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