Due to some marketing genius, tea is very much in fashion at the moment. Gone are the days where there was a choice of just English Breakfast or Peppermint; any tea-seller worth their salt better offer a variety that includes Hibiscus and Irish Cream Breakfast at the very least.
Teenagers are buying teapots, grandmothers are gaga over the hippest new blends, and this trend shows no sign of slowing. In Australia, these savvy sippers all flock to T2, the country’s largest provider of loose-leaf tea. The store is aesthetically pleasing, and the constant samples and displays of exquisite teapots are almost enough to distract you from the prices. Almost.
Still, if you are true “teaoligist” you will not mind forking out for a box of your favourite tea, perhaps cherry blossom scented and somehow containing nougat. You will probably also buy a $40 teapot and a $20 teacup, and if that adds to your tea experience, I say, more power to your arm. I have spent at least ten times as much on a handbag.
My beef with T2 is, in a nutshell, the packaging for their online orders. Further interaction with the company also leads me to question their company values, and then we start getting really deep and may require a pot of Chamomile-Lavender.
I have recently quit sugar, and to assuage the raging chocolate beast inside I have turned to a delicious chocolaty blend from our friends at T2. As I was unable to purchase anywhere in-store for some inexplicable reason, I turned to the website to place an order. One box of tea is approximately ten centimeters cubed, and weighs 100 grams, so I was understandably surprised when I was charged ten dollars for postage. Could it be customs or duties? I am not very knowledgeable about these things, but I wanted my tea, and I decided to suck it up.
When my package arrived though, I was disgusted. Well, at first I was really excited because I thought it was a pair of shoes, but actually this huge box and padded postbag contained my one teeny box of tea and two little teabag samples. Are you kidding me T2? I am not renowned as an environmentalist, but even I found this wasteful. No wonder I was charged ten dollars postage! My choccy tea packaging could have safely transported a snow globe!
Being the outspoken consumer I am, I contacted T2 via their online form, with a very diplomatic email pointing out their environmental failings and blatant overcharging for the shipping of one box of tea. They responded quickly and politely, and the gist of the email was that they like to make their orders look pretty, and everyone deserves a little luxury now and then. Well, lady, to me luxury includes more than a box. Give me my ten dollars back so I can buy five champagne truffles from Robyn Rowe.
Subconsciously I associate tea with a kind of hippie culture. You know, love yourself, love the earth, take nutrition from the bounty of the fields… and don’t use unnecessary packaging.
Unfortunately I think I may have been the victim of assumption in this case. T2’s vision is beautiful tea in luxury packaging, and perhaps this is an example of that marketing genius that has turned us sipping crazy. The company seems to be more concerned with packaging than the environment, and about appearance rather than content. The tea is admittedly delicious, but some of the blends are outrageously high in sugar, and contain the mystery ingredient “flavour”.
If you look hard enough though, T2 are not pretending to be anything they aren’t. It is a pretty shop, selling yummy teas in cute packaging, and I guess that is as deep as it goes, and as deep as I should expect it to go. There are no zen-loving mantras to be found on their website.
So let’s all sit back and enjoy our sipping for what it is these days; a luxury taste experience, with no healthy or earth-loving intentions. If you happen to have paid the ten dollars for packaging, just think of it as your dues to the tea empire, and be grateful for your pretty box, which you can use to store your credit card statements.