For as much as I love to cook, I must confess that I have never ordered spices online or through the mail or even gone to a specialty store for them. I buy Spice Islands or another usually-more-expensive brand whose name is escaping me (comes in glass jars with black screw-off lids...has 2 names like Caswell Massey but I don't think that's it.). I store the spices in (gasp!) Tupperware spice containers that have a split lid -- one side opens to sprinkle, the other side opens for measuring. It's worked well for me for years, I always replace things I don't use after 6 months to a year, I keep them in a dark cabinet, away from heat and have had no problems.
BUT...I keep hearing about how fabulous these higher-end spices are. Is it really true? What brands should I start with? What spices should I try first? I really don't want to break the bank here, but I would be very interested to try a few things to see the difference. Are the herbs like basil and oregano a cut above, too? I try to do fresh when I can but it's so expensive to buy, and it's hard to grow herbs in the desert of AZ. I probably need to do a windowsill herb garden or something.
Obviously I know nothing about this, and would love all advice, suggestions, etc!!!