Part of a series on evaluating online tea stores.
A look at Rishi Tea in the areas of quality, selection, and tea community.
Quality: Overall, a strong selection of medium to higher quality teas with prices either on par with or slightly above their competitors. Rishi’s landing page displays badges indicating they are USDA certified, certified Kosher (via Wisconsin-K), and Fair Trade Certified. In addition, Rishi offers a quality promise of satisfaction. Rishi also took home multiple awards from the World Tea Championship competition. Walker Tea Review has given several of their teas 90+ scores.
Selection: Rishi’s strength lies in its Chinese and Japanese green teas. Its selection of unflavored, unblended teas in this category outnumbers the range of unflavored/unblended black, oolong, and white teas. However, that is not to say that their black or oolong selections are weak. Rishi has worked to select about 10 strong performers in each category, most notably Taiwan oolongs and Darjeeling blacks. In addition, you can find several pu’ers from their fair trade villages.
Tea Community: Rishi has tapped into all the major forms of engaging community: blog, Twitter, Facebook, and newsletter. Updates via these media can be found on a daily or weekly basis- twitter and facebook updates appear at least daily during the work week. Rishi’s messages aim less at education and more at informing its audience of events and projects. There is also the occasional comment about tea enjoyment, but engagement in chat with individual followers has been limited at this point. Blog posts are where Rishi shines. Joshua Kaiser and others provide a wealth of education on how they work with farmers and source teas. In addition, there is much to be learned about the varietals and processing of the teas in their selection.
Conclusion: Go to Rishi to get connected to and learn about good teas, but don’t expect to interact much with other tea aficionados. Do not expect to read customer reviews on their site either. The result is a rather one-sided conversation in which Rishi tells us about their teas with less opportunity to listen to feedback.