In case you haven't visited it recently, Rishi redesigned their website. I like this website a lot more than the old one, which I liked a lot, although there's a small caveat about this new site which I describe below.
What I like about Rishi Tea:
- Huge selection of organic and fair trade offerings - Rishi is a clear leader in the area of sustainability, and in particular, Fair Trade certified loose-leaf tea. Although there are several newer companies that also focus on loose-leaf fair trade teas, including Arbor Teas and Shanti Tea, both of which I have had positive experiences with, Rishi was around long before these other companies. One thing I like about Rishi is that they go above and beyond; rather than focusing exclusively on fair trade certification, they also sell a number of traditionally produced Chinese teas that are produced by small growers but are neither organic nor fair trade certified. Rishi is also involved in the development of new varieties of tea, working with farmers pioneering new production methods, and those carrying traditional methods into new regions.
- Teas with a bold flavor - As I recently mentioned in my post about the aesthetics of different tea companies, I find that, to me, Rishi has its own signature qualities, reflected in the flavors and aromas of their teas. And I find that Rishi tends to select teas that have bolder flavors and are more likely to be edgy, stronger, and, in my opinion, more interesting. Rishi's aesthetic seems quite different from that of any other company, and different from both the aesthetic of mainstream British tea culture and Chinese and Japanese tea culture.
- Unusual teas - Although Rishi does sell quite a few standard types of tea, what excites me more is how their catalogue is chock full of what I would consider "unusual offerings", including both types of tea not widely available in Western countries, and styles of tea produced in regions in which they are not typically produced, like black tea from Taiwan, or Keemun produced in Hubei province. Rishi seems to be a prime example of a company that follows the sort of advice I gave in my recent post about choosing which teas to sell.
- Teas sold by individual ounce - I like that Rishi sells teas in the size as small as an ounce (about 28 grams). This is larger than most companies' sample sizes, but small enough that you are unlikely to spend a lot of money to end up with a lot of tea you don't like. The larger sample size of one ounce gives enough leaf to experiment several time with gong fu style brewing, and enables you to try a tea over time and acquire a taste for it, which I find may be important with Rishi because some of their teas tend towards the more bitter side and have many aspects of aroma which may be unfamiliar at first, but very pleasing as one develops a taste for them.
Rishi's teas are markedly pricier than most of the other companies that I like to buy from, like Upton Tea Imports. But I find that the premium is worth paying for, not only because of their focus on sustainability, but because of the quality of the tea itself. And even though many of their teas do have slightly higher pricing, they still have a broad range of pricing, and many inexpensive offerings as well.
A quibble about the new website:
One little quibble, in case anyone from Rishi is reading, and a piece of advice to other web designers. It seems highly unnatural to me to see the "Sign up for our e-newsletter" box in the upper-right corner. Convention on the web is for search boxes to appear in the upper right of a webpage. Rishi's search box is pushed lower down on the page. I find myself repeatedly returning to Rishi's site and typing search terms into the newsletter subscription box. The presence of this box is annoying, to say the least.
The screenshot above shows that, on my browser, the search box is awkwardly pushed down below the header, overlapping other interactive features on the site, like the sorting of teas. This is a small complaint, and hopefully the bumping down of this box out of the header is a simple bug that can be quickly fixed; overall, I love the new website, and I especially like Rishi's teas and the company's philosophy and approach.
Have you tried Rishi?
Do you also like the aesthetic of Rishi's teas? And do you like their approach of encouraging the production of teas of a particular style, in new regions? Do you like the distribution of teas in their catalogue? Do you like their new website?