Our Buying Model


From Intelligentsia’s inception in 1995, we envisioned serving to our customers not only the world’s finest coffees, but teas of unmatched quality. A tea that simply tasted great was not enough; we were looking for teas with complex aromas, pristine leaf appearance, and tastes unique and unrivaled by anything to be found in the country, and we would settle for nothing less than an offering that reflected our belief that, rather than simply another daily ritual, tea is an ephemeral art form to be relished with all the senses.

In 2004, the decision was made to put more emphasis on tea. Doug Palas was hired to source our offerings, bringing with him a renewed energy, a dedication to freshness and sustainability, and a determination to expand our potential as a company. With his knowledge of and passion for the traditions and techniques that lead to truly exemplary teas, we have developed a system of cupping that lets us taste harvests with a comparative and critical palate. 

While this may seem like an obvious process, far too often tea traders will purchase based on what they want to offer, rather than what is exceptional. At first, many tea brokers and producers balked at sending their teas to us for evaluation. The cost seemed unreasonable for such a small company as ours. However, as we have grown, the companies that were willing to take a chance on us then have grown with us, and have time and again shown that they share our dedication to the world’s finest teas. We have always sought out producers that we could trust to offer us their best, and we strive to earn the same trust from you.

We have learned many things over the years, and we will continue to learn and explore every facet of the tea business as the years go on, building upon our principles to offer our customers the most intriguing teas in the world. We wish to share this knowledge with you so that you can realize their full potential. We have seen these teas through their growth and processing, and we want to help you see this commitment through to the cup.