While on our Cape Cod trip, one of the things I found very pleasing, tea wise, is that all three of the tea shops we visited carried very good quality teas to purchase; Harney & Sons, Grace Tea Company, Mark T. Wendell, PG Tips are the ones I remember and all of them are excellent. They also had many beyond the most familiar and basic teas, like Lapsang Souchong and Russian Caravan. Hopefully, the days of producing poor quality teas to sell to unsuspecting tourists are gone. It seems to me that having really good teas for "tourist" purchase would be an excellent way to promote one's company, as well as to educate people's palates.
Having said that, I bought the ever-present salt water taffy to foist on the "folks back home". Partly in jest, but that is what one buys when one"goes to the shore". I confess I like small amounts of it, but it really is awful stuff.
Jayshree, a huge tea company in India, is buying up tea lands in Uganda and Rwanda in Africa. Tea prices in India have risen exhorbitantly and they are looking to produce tea more cheaply. Labor costs are low in Africa. I am glad the Africans will have more jobs available, but I am afraid they will all be incredibly low paying.
Over at http://www.teafromtaiwan.com/ site, the Tea From Taiwan people have an excellent site including visits to the high mountain regions, history of Taiwanese tea, descriptions of many kinds of their tea and a chance to purchase them, perhaps knowing a bit more than you did about what you are getting. It is well worth a visit, even if you buy nothing.
What Ho! Gevalia, purveyor of some very good coffees, is now selling tea! The vast majority are fruity flavored ones, so I probably won't be trying any. If this is of interest to you, go to www.gevalia.com/tea .
Another day of tea. Shall I have a Globe Amaranth tisane or one of the 12 tisane and teabags I received in a swap with a woman from Emmen, Switzerland? Just a reminder, if the "tea" does not come from the Camellia sinensis plant, the infusion is, strictly speaking, a tisane. However, unless we are being formal, most of us call all sorts of herbals, tea.
The Swiss tea won. I am am having Coop Green Tea. If I remember correctly, Coop is a big chain of grocery stores, about the same as any of ours. They even have a very small selection of peanut butter and a much better selection of things like Nutella, of which I am very fond. The tea bag is double sided, with a goodly amount of tea within. I used water about 175, for 2 minutes. The resulting brew is a medium honey color and on the opaque side. It smells a bit of citrus, even though that is not stated on the wrapper. Nope, it smells like sassafras and that is what it tastes like. Think "kindergarten, white paste" and you have a similar taste. It is not unpleasant - I always liked the stuff - but it doesn't taste like green tea.
A note of community pride to end with: the pilot of the last space shuttle, which took off today, is an Owego hometown boy. There are signd all over town wishing him well.