Whether you're looking to go out for a drink of fine loose-leaf tea or buy some for use in your home, the Boston area has plenty of options.
The most popular tea chain in Boston is Tealuxe. They have the widest selection of loose-leaf teas. There are many interesting combinations of black teas with fruit flavors. If you like chai, they have many more varieties than other tea shops that serve only one. Tealuxe has two locations, one on Newbury Street near Copley Square and another in Harvard Square. The first location offers much more seating and a food menu. The second only offers tea and seating is much more limited.
Another tea chain in Boston is Peet's Coffee and Tea. Compared to Tealuxe, their tea menu is much smaller. However, Peet's has better prices. While at Both Tealuxe and Peets you can have tea served to you in a teapot so that you can pour it in your cup yourself, Peet's charges $2 for this option while Tealuxe asks for a dollar more. Also, customer service at Peet's is much better. The servers are much friendlier: they are more willing to answer questions and take special requests. The other advantage that Peet's has over Tealuxe is that it also serves coffee in addition to tea. Having the option of ordering coffee is important when you are inviting friends to a cafe, because many of them may want to drink it instead of tea. America is first and foremost a country of coffee-drinkers.
A third tea shop probably offers the least in terms of loose leaf tea selection but has a compelling location. Trident's on Newbury Street has a seating area approximately three times that of the two teashops already mentioned. If you are going out for tea with a large group of people, this is the place to be. At both TeaLuxe and Peet's, you'll be lucky to find one seat, so forget about bringing a group.
Furthermore, Trident's is a teashop that's most malleable to use for multiple occasions. It has two types of seating. In the front, there's a spacious bar-style area with high stools. In the back, there are two areas of tables, if you are looking for a more intimate setting. If you are by yourself or with a single friend, you'll use the bar. If you have a group, you'll take the tables instead.
If you are looking for a place where you can have a whole meal and not just tea, Trident will fit the bill because it has a full-fledged restaurant menu and lots of alcohol options.
Finally, Trident's also has a bookstore. If you are one of the types who likes to browse through different books while drinking tea, then this place will be your favorite location.
If you are shopping for tea leaves to brew in your own home, where you'll want to go will depend on whether you value price or selection the most. If you are looking for the best tea leaf and are not afraid to spend a lot of money, try Cardullo's in Harvard Square. They order direct from a high number of American and foreign tea vendors. As a result, not only will you be able to find a rare tea, but also multiple varieties of it, each from a different vendor.
If you are looking for the best prices, the Harvest Coop in Central Square offers incredibly inexpensive teas. There are caveats though. First, you'll have to serve yourself by scooping the tea leaves out into a bag out of big bins. Second, you'll have to spend a really long time waiting in the check-out line with grocery shoppers. Unfortunately, there are no express lanes
The previously mentioned teashops, Peet's and Tealuxe also offer tea for sale. Their prices are somewhat less expensive than Cardullo's and much more expensive than the Harvest Coop.