Tea in Harvard Square

I’ve been living around Harvard Square now for four years, and really, I’ve been blessed by the number of tea stores that are around this little area. Over the years, it has gotten more tea vendors. This is not to say that they are all of high quality or sell exotic things, but for the US of A, I think my selection here is not too bad.

So what do we have around Harvard Square?

I guess we’ll start with A. Dado Tea. They have a nice tea menu, as you can see. But you can also see that they’re not cheap. 2.25 for a basic cup to go, and very little leaves at that. If you want Korean green tea though, this is the place to go. It’s also nicely decorated/setup so that drinking tea there is actually rather pleasant. It’s also a bubble tea place… and I think that’s where they make their money.

Tealuxe is sort of the original tea store around here, as far as I know. They only sell tea — and one kind of coffee (which nobody buys, as far as I can tell). I remember they used to carry a superb selection of teas, some of which I’ve never heard of, and there was always something interesting to drink there. Unfortunately, I think they overexpanded a few years ago and had to cut back (probably took on more than they can chew). Nowadays, they offer mostly black teas and, horror of horrors, flavoured black teas and herbal teas. Their oolongs and greens are nowhere near what they used to be, and they have yet to offer any kind of puerh. Oh well, that doesn’t matter so much. They’re rather expensive, but good for a reliable cup of tea when I’m in a rush.

Then there’s Peet’s, which stinks of coffee when you walk in. The tea menu, however, is not bad, and has some really strange things. There’s this one tea that I tried recently called “Imperial Red”, and I honestly have no idea what it is. In some ways, their offering of teas might actually be the best among all the stores in Harvard Square now, surprisingly enough. As much as I’d hate to admit that a coffee store is selling decent tea, this one actually does. I should probably go visit their home in Berkeley at some point.

There are a whole bunch of places that sell pretty decent teas, but which are not listed in the google results, because they are primarily coffee joints. These places, such as Toscanini’s (an ice cream bar), Cafe Gato Rojo (a cafe in a Harvard building), Cafe Pamplona (a little place in the basement of a house with 6ft clearance — if you’re too tall, you won’t be comfortable there), among others. They are all supplied by a business called Mem Tea (G). It’s a great service, as they are just a wholesaler doing mostly restaurant and cafe business, but the consumers, like me, get to drink loose leaf teas that are actually decent. These places, if not for the existence of Mem Tea, would all be selling me teabags of various kinds, most likely Stash or Twinnings or Lipton or some other such thing. Instead, they use the “loose leaf in a bag” system and have various kinds of teas on offer. They don’t do retail, except through stores that buy them, but I’ve met the owner of the thing and he is quite a nice person. I’m always glad to see those signature tea containers that they use, because it means I can order a reasonable cup at that place.

There’s a new store in town that isn’t even on the maps yet, at the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and Remington St., called Karma…. something. They’re downstairs from a Yoga Studio of the same name, and offers tea up front. It’s a sleekly designed place, and I tried one tea there already… a Yunnan black of some sort. It’s not bad. I couldn’t figure out where they source their teas. Sometimes it’s obvious where a store gets their teas, but this one isn’t. I might go back again and try something else they have to see if it’s up to any good.

So, while the offerings around here isn’t fantastic, I have a feeling that this is probably better than most. At the very least, I can always count on a cup of tea that is brewed with loose leaf tea and not have to worry about the horror that is a teabag. Then again, when I’m despearte enough, I can even drink McDonald’s tea…


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