About Us

Mary Lou Heiss & Bob Heiss, dubbed the Professors of Tea by the New York Times, are the co-owners and founders of Tea Trekker.

The roots of Tea Trekker began in 1974 when we first started selling loose-leaf tea. While there was not much choice in tea at that time,
( most tea was black tea from India and blends such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey, etc.), and the quality is not what it is today, the intrigue of tea fascinated us. This was a little known topic and we were determined to learn as much as we could about this exotic and distinctive beverage.

Since those early days, we have been in the vanguard of tea retailing and tea education in America for the span of our 40 +year career. Little did we know then that at this point in our lives we would have made close to a dozen trips to Asia to source our tea from remote tea growing areas of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

The New York Times called us the “Professors of Tea” validating our efforts to encourage tea drinkers to step away from the teabag and embrace the extraordinary flavors of fresh, pure, seasonal, whole leaf tea.

We are also the proud authors of four books on tea and beverages, including the bestselling:

  • The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to the World’s Finest Teas
  • The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide, a nominated IACP and the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Awards Finalist,
    and 1st place USA Winner from Paris-based Gourmand Awards
bk-tenthus_hb-tn2 bk-story_of_tea-tn4 bk-hot_drinks-tn3 bk-greentea_new
The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook The Story of Tea Hot Drinks Green Tea

Believing that seeing and learning from the experts (and never wanting to take the easy way out) is the best path to true knowledge, we travel frequently to China, Japan, and Taiwan to purchase teas directly from the remote tea farms and tea factories where traditional, hand-made teas are still made and to learn from the skilled workers who craft these teas.

We are proud to support dedicated tea workers who keep the traditional ways of tea cultivation and manufacture alive.

We purchase authentic tea that has a history and that grows in natural, mountain tea gardens — we do not purchase or sell intensively grown, commodity-driven tea from modern, commercial tea ventures. Call us old fashioned and opinionated and we will be the first to agree with that. To read more about the difference between these types of tea, click here.

Understanding tea is a study in how’s and why’s. Tea knowledge is comprised of minutia, lots of it, as well as recognizing the importance of both the large and small differences in each class of tea. Studying tea is a lifelong quest; one cannot learn all there is to know about the styles of tea in a few broad strokes.

When we visit tea-producing countries we become students to the tea masters that teach us. We return home each time with new knowledge, clearer insights and a greater appreciation for the craft of tea-making that we in turn share with our tea customers and readers. Happily, gaining an understanding of the details of tea cultivation and manufacture and learning as much as we can on our tea travels is what inspires us to keep learning.

Tea Trekker owner Mary Lou Heiss © Tea Trekker, all rights reserved

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And subscribe to Tea Trekker’s blog, an informative and educational addendum to our website and tea books, which will be delivered directly into your inbox with each new post.
Need A Speaker?

Let us design a lively tea presentation for your group, whether it is for your next corporate meeting, a business retreat or a weekday fun treat for your employees.

When not traveling to source tea, and when our schedule allows, we are available to conduct tea classes and tea presentations. Our extensive collection of photographs from our tea trips gives us the ability to create colorful and dynamic Power Point Presentations of places and processes that engage and educate. Please contact us with your interest.

Below is a listing of various organizations that we have conducted presentations for:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Boston University Seminars in Food, Wine and the Arts
  • Disney Magazine
  • Historic Deerfield
  • International Association of Culinary Professionals ( IACP )
  • James Beard Foundation
  • National Association for the Specialty Food Trade ( NASFT) Fancy Food Show
  • Smith College
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst Asian Arts and Culture Dept.
  • Williams-Sonoma


Photo by Robert J. Heiss © Tea Trekker, all rights reserved


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Photo by Steve Garfield © some rights reserved    Photo by Steve Garfield © some rights reserved