These days, mail is back - the physical kind. Subscription boxes and eCommerce are growing fast, but the mail that we like the most is tea mail - that day when our special tea of the month club purple packages or online teashop purchases arrive in people's mailboxes. There's even a hashtag for it.
We know that you guys enjoy getting tea mail as much as we like sending it! But, buying mail order tea online is not the same as going into a teashop and buying tea after trying a cuppa. But tea mail order has its own benefits - I'd like to share my own top 5 tips for helping you when purchase tea online.
1. Know your "standard of comparison."
When I lived in Amsterdam (the place that I fell in love with tea originally, by the way), there was a Thai restaurant a short bike ride across town that had the best pad thai I've ever had. Every single Thai restaurant I've been to since is held up in comparison. That's perhaps unfair, but, it's my standard of comparison - if we try a new Thai venue, I always order the pad thai first to get a feeling before venturing out further.
I tell you this story because it's how I suggest you start your mail order tea adventure; start your order with 1 item that is your standard of comparison. Maybe for you that's earl grey, or english breakfast, or chamomile herbal tea. What do you drink a lot of and always curious to find a better, or different, version to have in your tea cupboard? Be on the lookout for that.
2. Try something new.
Extending my earlier story, while I always order that pad thai, I tend to always try a new appetizer before my pad thai (since Thai restaurants, in our neighborhood anyway, seem to play around with this particular menu offering).
The same applies to your tea mail purchases - I suggest trying something new when ordering from a new tea company. Most mail order tea companies have signature offerings - for example, at Plum Deluxe that would probably be Coconut Macaron or Self Care Tea - but browse around for something you haven't seen before and would consider giving it a try. If you end up not liking it, you can always serve it at your next tea part or gift it forward to a tea-loving friend.
3. Make it a relationship, not a transaction.
I always say that tea people are special people - we're never in a hurry, and we tend to do with a mindful intention. So, instead of thinking about your mail order tea as simply a credit card/Paypal transaction, consider it the first step in meeting a new person in your tea circle. For example, here at Plum Deluxe there are Facebook groups, Goodreads groups, Ravelry groups, and public events that are opportunities to meet others in the community. Or just drop us a note and say hello and tell us how you found us - we love to hear from customers!
This is particularly helpful if you're new on your tea journey and looking for tips, or if you're a true tea mail aficionado and can't get enough tea talk.
4. Take advantage of samples.
Most online tea companies have the option of ordering samples, sometimes free but usually for a just few dollars. I strongly suggest considering either ordering a variety of personal picks, or asking for suggestions on what to pick, letting them know what you currently drink - here at Plum Deluxe, we're always happy to help.
I do suggest ordering at least 1 normally-sized tea product when you order samples, so you can see what the standard sized product looks like. This could be your "standard of comparison" mentioned above, and the extra tea will allow you to try it hot/iced, with/out milk, etc. - so you can experiment to see what you like best.
5. Look out for ordering perks.
Lastly, take a look to see if your favorite (or soon to be favorite) tea mail company has any perks that you can take advantage of. Sometimes this is a coupon code or discount on your first order, other times that is free shipping with a certain sized order. Here at Plum Deluxe some of our popular perks include the Blender's Choice tea (a $5 surprise tea selected for you by a staffer based on your current/previous orders) and the free shipping benefit for anything you order as a tea club member.
And don't forget to savor that excitement when you open the mailbox and realize that you've got tea mail!