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Fulfilling the demand for good tea is serious business. Like selecting fine wine, the best tea begins with the leaves. Knowing how to choose the right leaves requires skill, experience, and finesse, characteristics Curtis Vouwie has acquired in his life-long love affair with tea. East Wind Tea Company in Beverly Farms is where connoisseurs and novices alike will find Vouwie, the purveyor of the highest quality whole-leaf tea available from producers throughout Asia, Sri Lanka, and India.

Make no mistake—East Wind Tea is not a tearoom. The store sells 15 varieties of loose-leaf tea in 50-gram packs, as well as teapots, teacups, bamboo scoops, and infusers. As your personal tea sommelier, Vouwie is well equipped to advise, discuss, or simply reminisce about the very social nature of tea drinking. “I want to educate people on tea, and more importantly, I want people to enjoy the experience,” says Vouwie, who adds that the demand for high-end tea also spurs from its many health benefits. Recent studies suggest that its antioxidants may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and support cardiovascular and bone health.

But good quality comes with a price, and at East Wind Tea Company, top sellers go for $14 to $16, including Jasmine (green), fragranced with fresh jasmine flowers, and White Tip Oolong (dark with a sweet, orangey, muscatel bouquet). Vouwie says he hopes to have Matcha soon, a powerful, thick green tea often used in food preparation.

“There are times when you want something that’s a better quality, and these teas are discernibly different,” says Vouwie. —Leslie Martini, Photograph by Glenn Scott

For more information, visit, or visit the store in person at 8 West Street, Beverly Farms, 978-921-4734.

Which Brew? For the ultimate tearoom experience, try these.

1. Crumpet’s Tea Room The delightful atmosphere and menu of homemade crumpets, scones, muffins, imported clotted cream, and old-fashioned, three-tiered presentations keeps customers coming back for dessert with their tea. 56 Water St., North Andover, 978-683-3334,

2. Leah Mae’s Tea Room Tucked into the Designed to a Tea consignment shop is this quaint little tea and lunch room known for its homemade soups and variety of individual meat pies, quiches, and of course, excellent tea. 179 Rosemont St., Haverhill, 978-372-0889,

3. Wenham Tea House Believed to be the oldest continually operating teahouse in the country, this North Shore landmark turns 100 years old in 2010 and still ranks among the best in New England for tea, home-baked food, and ambiance. 4 Monument St., Wenham, 978-468-1235,