Traveling to India and Thailand - any tea destinations?

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Janice
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Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:07 pm

In March I’ll be spending 2 weeks in India on the traditional Golden Triangle route, and then some days (number not yet determined) in northern Thailand visiting Chiangmai and Chiangrai.

I’ll also be in Bangkok for a few days at the beginning of the trip.

Any interesting tea destinations or tea shops that I should look into?
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tealifehk
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Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:16 pm

Chiang Rai is the heart of Thai oolong country!
Janice
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Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:18 pm

tealifehk wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:16 pm
Chiang Rai is the heart of Thai oolong country!
I know. That’s why I was looking for specific destinations. But I think that after we spend some time in Chiang Mai we’re going to head south to spend a few days where my son and dil live before returning to Bangkok and then home.
lopin
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Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:11 am

I have ordered from https://www.101teathailand.net/ while in thailand, free shipping within country and teas that I tried so far are nice. they have also farm to visit, but I was around Krabi and did not plan to go up north
John_B
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:49 pm

I live in Bangkok; I can mention some favorite places here.

My favorite stop is Jip Eu in Chinatown. They're not set up like a Western tea shop, so getting a feel for what they sell and getting into tasting in the right range can be tricky, especially related to language issues (they can speak it, but the amount of divide that remains doesn't help). That really goes more generally too, related to other shops, especially in Chinatown. At any rate they specialize in Wuyi Yancha, and have family ties to Anxi as well, and keep other different teas around. Per their input and other experience a lot of Wuyi Yancha are heavily roasted here; if you like that it works out well, and if you don't you would need to be clear on that early on to work through it.

The main mall shop people recommend is Tea Dee Zhang, out in the Thanya Park mall, way outside of the center of Bangkok on Srinakarin road. ( https://www.facebook.com/Teadezhang/) I've only been there once and they've moved locations since. They press their own sheng pu'er, and have for years, so they're into it on that level. Local mass transit doesn't go out there but taxis are inexpensive in Bangkok.

The main cafe is Double Dogs, on Yaowarat, the main street in Chinatown. To me it's not exceptional related to the teas they offer to drink there, although they are pretty decent. I haven't bought that much loose tea from them to ground an opinion about that. Beyond that, for other shops in Chinatown, K. Muikee Tea seems worth a look, and Sen Xing Fa carries a lot of pu'er cakes and shou mei, and the white tea cakes might really be worth a look. All of those places but Double Dogs will let you taste teas before you buy them. That wouldn't mesh so well with the theme of a cafe selling tea to drink samples they don't charge for first there.

Oddly I don't have much to add about visiting places in the North. Monsoon is a cafe in Chiang Mai that talks through a lot about "wild" forest grown teas. I've tried a white version and it was ok, interesting and pleasant, just probably a bit over-priced for what it was, per my take. Chiang Mai has been adding tea shops for a few years so there are a number of others.

They don't have a shop but looking up the Tea Side vendor would be a lead on the level of local teas that just don't turn up. Even related to that vendor it's still possible to dig deeper, there's still one more local tea layer to go. Check out this vendor for a sales option and more on what I mean, about what truly local style teas are like:

https://www.facebook.com/nanbangcha/

The large Chiang Rai oolong producers are ok for what that tea is. 101 is one of them, and there are only a half dozen or so. Per my experience Vietnamese copies of Taiwanese style oolongs can be better, and of course the higher levels of Taiwanese teas better yet.

It might be better to ask in a Thai Facebook tea group if you had a specific interest beyond any of that. I'll mention my favorite and the largest one here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Thailan ... sociation/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThailandTeaLover/

Don Mei's brother, Han, runs a shop in town, Seven Suns. It seems odd even mentioning it since I don't have the best impression of Mei Leaf as a source but Han is nice enough, and they do blends and sell matcha, so if in that area it might be fine to check out. If you want to buy the most expensive pot of tea you've ever had Peace Oriental has you covered; theirs start from $20 and keep on going. Oddly there isn't much beyond wandering around Chinatown to talk about. A few other places do come to mind but it seems as well not to mention them since that might just muddy the waters.

I've reviewed a lot of Thai teas; descriptions that tie back to a lot of what I've mentioned can be found in my blog, or discussion about Chinatown. The market alley on Yaowarat Soi 6 there is really interesting, with a number of tea shops on it, just none that warrant mention as a great tea source. All the same a short walk through that alley is well worth it for the visual experience and the smells.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/
Janice
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Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:49 am

@John_B thanks for the detailed post. Even though my original post is a year old I do have another trip to Thailand coming up in March of this year. A few days in Bangkok, a week in Isan, and then some time at my son’s home. He and my dil live just 15 minutes from the train to Chiang Mai, about ha,feat between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. so we may go back up there again for a few days.

The only time I was in Bangkok Chinatown was several years ago when I was there during the vegetarian festival. Maybe this year we’ll return to drink rather than eat. I’ll be with 2 Thai speakers so that’ll be a help.
John_B
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:35 am

Nice! It's all about the little details in commenting on forum threads isn't it, in noticing the year.

With online sources being what they are it's hard for shops to do better for making teas easy to find, and for value and good quality. The potential to try teas before you buy them is nice, and to actually talk to someone about them.

How did it go last year, visiting Thailand and India? Did you get beyond the types a lot of people are already familiar with?
Janice
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Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:17 am

I drank tea in India - Indian black tea served Indian style. By that I mean strong black tea with lots of milk and turbinado sugar. Delicious, rich and so much caffeine that I couldn’t afford to make a habit of it once home.
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