There is so much tea out there but it is difficult to find the Good Stuff without dedicating too much time and money searching through the duds to find the jewels.
Mei Leaf is your partner. Don and his team search high and low to curate the best and most unique tea range at the right prices so that you can fuel your tea passion with confidence.
How do you select your teas?
All of our tea is selected through blind tasting in order to eliminate bias towards price or reputation. We select our tea according to taste and effects. This means we've tasted the good, the not so good and the truly amazing so you can be sure that the tea you find at Mei Leaf is selected from the very best out there!
How do you source your teas?
We have over 50 years of experience sourcing herbs and teas from the Far East (we began in 1972). During these decades we have built up a very close network of producers, tea scouts and friends to allow us to bypass the big tea wholesalers and get to the good stuff. This network is continuously expanding.
We either buy direct from producers or from provincial tea lovers who spend their time sourcing in their local areas. Of course, we travel to the mountains whenever possible to enhance our knowledge of tea from a particular origin but this is not our primary way of finding producers. Covering just one mountain area of one province would take months of travel, so we prefer to rely on local scouts who source all year round in their particular area for us.
Are your Teas Organic?
The majority of our teas are not certified Organic, but it is important to understand what this means. The highest quality fields of tea production in the Far East are usually not certified Organic simply because they do not need to go through the expense of certification as they will sell all of their tea to tea connoisseurs anyway. Instead, it tends to be that Organic certification is sought for poorer quality fields in order to raise the price, especially to foreign markets.
Should I be concerned about Pesticides, Fertilisers and Heavy Metals?
There has been a lot written about Pesticides and Heavy Metals in tea, and it is worth being a little cautious about where you purchase your tea (especially Matcha because you are eating the leaves). If the tea is grown in the perfect terroirs and the bushes are not too young, then it does not require anything but natural fertilisers. If the tea is picked at the right season (usually very early spring) then it usually does not require pesticides. If the tea is grown in high and remote areas, far away from cities and main roads then you do not have to worry about Heavy Metals. In other words, the quality of the source and producer is paramount. Because we select Mei Leaf tea from the right places and the right farmers, you can drink with complete assurance.
Are your teas Fairtrade?
The Fairtrade scheme is admirable but flawed and is designed for larger plantations (usually in the sub-continent or Africa). We purchase our teas mainly from small family farmers and build long-term relationships with them by paying fair prices. The majority of our producers set their own price and they know that their leaves are of such high quality that they can easily sell out every season and so there is very little bargaining room for us! Essentially we pay what they are asking and if we feel that the price does not justify the quality then we do not purchase.
Do your teas change every year?
Every year produces different quality tea. Therefore, each year we determine which teas we have to source, and we start afresh collecting samples. We do not solely go to the same producers as the previous year but instead source as many samples as possible and blind taste to select the best for Mei Leaf. While we have strong relationships with our producers, our commitment is to our clients and not to them. We never pre-purchase or pre-reserve tea from a producer.
Our list is always changing. If we cannot find a batch of a particular tea which we adore then we will not sell that tea. Similarly, there are always new and exciting tea discoveries to add to our curated selection. This way our clients can be assured that our shelves only have the pinnacle tea of its type for that particular year.