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Online shop specialising in loose Tea

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      05.07.2011 12:09
      Very helpful
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      A brilliantly cheap brand, let down by just a few website issues (3 out of 5 based on these probs)

      On a recent trip to Camden, I happened upon the Yumchaa tea stall. I've been a loyal follower of www.teapigs.co.uk for a long time so at first I was kind of reluctant to buy anything. However, I am so glad that the persuasive stall holder grabbed my attention! I purchased a couple of bags of tea and a tea egg (don't worry I'll explain) for the bargain price of £10! Becoming a convert to Yumchaa and NOT living in London was a problem though, so I decided to have a look on their website to ensure I could get constant supplies...

      The site is called www.yumchaa.co.uk which is nice and easy to both find and remember - no silly names like yumchaathenumberoneloosetealeafselleronline (you know the kind) and it's the first Google search result too. The page loads quickly and simply without lots of content / ads slowing it down. The main page is simple, with some simple teal line drawings and a black and white image which depicts their crusade against 'bagged' tea. Navigation is super easy too, there's a top menu bar which 'grows' as you scroll over the options:

      About us: This section gives a deeper understanding of the Yumchaa mission - and explains how they branched out from market stall holders to café owners and online entrepreneurs. Using the menu on the left you can choose to meet the team - Sean and Trinh. Find me: Self explanatory - tells you where you can find Yumchaa stores if you didn't want to buy online (for Londoners there are much better deals when you can haggle at the market stall than there are online). Tea School: explains all about the different types of tea, its cultivation and origins and even tells you how to grade loose leaf tea. Really interesting for all you tea-holics out there! Be Inspired and FAQs are under construction which is slightly annoying, but I am sure the guys have so much on their hands with all the market stalls and café to complete this. I really wish they would though...

      Now for the main event! Buy Tea. So we know all about the guys and why they do what they do, but we're here to buy tea. Under the buy tea section which is simple to find, you will see left hand links to different groups of tea i.e. Black, Green, Red and White, and you also have the link to your basket. In the centre of the page there is a list of teas available - so you can just peruse through if you don't have a specific group of teas you'd like to choose from. Each tea has a title, description and price - though there are no photos - another annoying feature.

      Despite the basket link, you can't actually order by clicking and adding items to your basket. You have got to email your order to the address displayed on the buy tea page and they send you a Pay Pal link to complete your order. Then, once you've paid, they send you a dispatch notice from Pay Pal and send you your tea by first class delivery. They state they are having a few problems with the shopping basket and this is just a temporary measure, though it's been in place since the start of this year at least.

      Overall the website needs some serious improvement; photos, a real shopping basket and the two under construction pages finishing. Nice to haves would be a search facility and an option to order mini samples of tea (chargeable of course), as a name and even a picture don't tell you what it's going to taste like and it's a lot of money to part with if you don't like the product! But its design is simplistic and beautiful, the content so far is interesting and easy to access, the site is plain sailing when it comes to navigation and there's no lag because it isn't filled with adverts.

      The product itself comes highly recommended from me and I am willing to forgive the site these aforementioned problems on the basis of the quality and value of the product. For 100g of loose tea you get around 40 cups of tea - www.teapigs.co.uk sell their blends in boxes of 15 tea temples from anywhere around £3.49 up to about £7.50. Whereas Yumchaa sell their tea in bags of 100g loose for £4.50 (less if you haggle at the stall!). Teapigs do carry some loose tea and for example their black teas are around £3.80 for 100g, but for adventurous blends loose tea is unavailable and you're forced to part with £3.49 for just 15 tea temples!

      I recommend trying Chelsea Chai (Sencha green tea, Cardamom, Ginger pieces, Cloves, Black pepper and Spearmint brittle) for a morning wake up and tummy tonic, or Lemon Sherbet (Rooibos, Lemon, Orange, Lime and Citrus Peel) for a sweet toothed treat. Have a visit to the site, and make sure if you're in Camden, Spitalfields, etc you check out their fragrant and enticing stall!

      PS: as promised, a tea egg or tee-ei is a metal sphere into which you decant your loose leaf tea then you use it like a tea bag. It's not only eco-friendly, they are cheap too, you can pick them up for a couple of quid (£2.75 I think from Yumchaa) and they are so easy to clean and re-use. Cut glass, coloured mugs and a tea egg just make your tea all the more special and look great for guests; plus there's no messing with tea strainers, etc.


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