The Austin Chronicle

Zhi Tea

By Kate Thornberry, May 30, 2008, Food

Zhi Tea is a fledgling Austin tea company specializing in organic and Fair Trade teas. Partners Jeffrey Lorien and Candice Oneida launched Zhi as an online-only tea resource just last summer, and already their business has grown enough to warrant a storefront location as well.

"We have been amazed at how great the reaction has been to our teas!" says Lorien. "Cafe Caffeine, Lava Java, and several other places around town sell our teas, and the response has been phenomenal. Our latest coup is Hudson's on the Bend: They have developed a special tea program to introduce our teas, and it's going over really well."

Zhi sells more than 70 different whole-leaf teas: oolong, green, black, white, red, flavored, and herbal. Loose-leaf teas are intensely flavorful and contain far more antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds than the poor-quality "tea bag" tea most of us grew up drinking, which is often little more than tea dust. "Every tea we sell can be traced back to the farm where it was hand-tended and hand-harvested," explains Lorien. "All our teas are organic, and that's important with tea, because any chemicals sprayed on the tea leaves are going to end up in your cup."

When you open a package of Zhi Tea, the first thing you notice is the aroma. All of the teas, from jasmine green to orange oolong, are deeply fragrant. The leaves themselves are readily identifiable and clearly hand-picked and rolled; the teas with a floral component contain visible dried blossoms. When these premium teas are brewed, their flavor is bold and definite.

"Iced tea is probably the most popular beverage in Texas," Lorien adds. "When people try using quality tea leaves to make their iced tea, they just can't believe the difference."

Zhi's website is extensive and easy to use and navigate; their new storefront at 4607 Bolm Rd. opens June 9. Zhi Tea sample packs are $3.50; tins of tea range from $10 to $15, and tea is available in bulk as well.

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.