Part of a series on evaluating online tea stores.
A look at Mark T. Wendell Tea Company in the areas of quality, selection, and tea community.
Quality: Wendell’s teas weave between quality and value. For the vast majority of their loose leaf teas, the minimum tin size is 4 ounces. This is a relatively large volume, considering several other retailers start packaging options as low as 25 grams (0.88 oz) or 2 ounces. With sizes options of up to 1 lb, Wendell’s model is great for when you find a tea you like and frequently return to that tea.
Wendell is generally stronger in sourcing black teas from India. Looking back at the scores for Chinese greens indicates these are safe but less remarkable teas.
One of the stand-outs of Wendell is their Hu-Kwa. This lapsang souchong takes its name from a Qing dynasty merchant who was one of the richest men in the world of his day. This particular lapsang souchong is described as coming from Taiwan (Formosa). The history of the tea’s name carries some wealth of tradition. Reaching far enough back, an ancestor of the family owning Wendell actually did business with Hu Kwa.
Selection: I counted: 13 black teas, 11 green, 6 wulong (oolong), 3 pu’er, 2 white, and 1 yellow teas, not counting flavored teas, flowering, teas, and teas offered under the Foojoy brand. The black tea selection also had the wider variety of sources, including India, China, Kenya, and Indonesia. Green teas were predominantly Chinese in origin, with a few Japanese greens.
Tea Community: Mark T. Wendell does have a blog, and can be found on Facebook. The interaction on the blog varies from weekly to monthly, but Facebook action is a more frequent. You could go there to send a “hello” to Hartley and the team. It may be worthwhile to look at some of the customer posts there to see what teas are popular.
Conclusion: Be specific when shopping at Wendell. Focus on the black teas, and only get the greens if you already know you like them. Get the Hu-Kwa if you like lapsang souchong, and want to experience the history.
Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Operated by Jason Walker.