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Aiko said

Subscription Tea Clubs (Verdant's and otherwise)

If I can get myself to stop balking at the price tag, I’d like to buy into six months of Verdant’s Tea of the Month Club. I was wondering if those of you who have tried it would recommend it? I’m really sitting on the fence about it; $120 is a lot to drop, but considering my past experiences with Verdant Tea, I can’t imagine I’d be disappointed.

But furthermore, for the sake of discussion, are there any subscription-based tea-clubs that you guys are a part of, or have been a part of in the past, that you would like to give your thoughts on in terms of quality, value, and otherwise?

I’ve wanted to take part in one of these for quite some time, but most tea-vendors that run them carry such a huge selection that there’s a good chance I’ll end up with something I don’t like (while the team behind Verdant seems to have similar tastes to mine, so there’s little chance of that happening, hence my serious consideration).

Would love to hear your thoughts!

59 Replies

I subscribe to Handmade Tea. The teas are a bit different from Verdant’s as they are all hand crafted blends but I feel it’s worth the $20 per month. They bill monthly which helps a bit with the sticker shock. I haven’t had any experience with Verdant or their club but I’ve heard a lot of good things. The new club from Canton Tea looking really interesting too.

DaisyChubb said

Oh I love that they bill monthly with Handmade Tea! That’s definitely something I could look into

Babble said

Also worth mentioning that Handmade Tea now has a $13/mo option for a smaller quantity of tea.

Claire said

I just checked out Handmade Tea’s website – what a cool idea! Definitely will have to check out their subscription in the future.

I wish I could do the Canton Tea club!

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momo said

I’m subscribed to 52Teas’ monthly subscription. I can pretty much only do 3 months at a time ever, so it’s about $30 a month for all the teas of that month. It works for me because I find myself ALWAYS wanting the tea of the week, and this way I get all of them and don’t find myself wishing I had got one when I see other people’s reviews. And of course, they are always the ones that never come back!

I just restarted mine for September but I had it December of last year through Feb and it was perfect.

Yeah, I subscribe to the monthly subscription as well. It seems like a lot of money to put down at first, but, the way I see it is that ultimately I’m saving money because I’d end up buying every week’s tea anyway. I end up saving a small amount per pouch, and I don’t have to worry about them selling out of a blend before I have a chance to buy it.

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I had 52Teas’ weekly subscription for a while and I really enjoyed it a lot. I loved coming home to tea in my mailbox and wondering what it would be. I was always so excited for that weekly package to come…

Also one time they got a little behind because of a shortage of supplies and they sent me extra tea (a different kind!) the next week to make up for it! I was really happy with that. I felt it made up for it and then some.

The only thing about them is you’ve got to like flavored tea. All of the tea I’ve had of theirs was great. I was always really happy and felt it was well worth the money I spent.

I was thinking about doing Verdant’s tea club for a while, but I never did end up doing it. I’m sure they would be a good one to be involved in though. When you think about it for the price it’s really not a bad deal if you actually do the math. I mean you’re getting about 3oz of tea per month for 6 months so that’s a lot of tea.

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DaisyChubb said

I’m subscribed to Verdant – don’t let the price scare you too much – I have so much tea from the subscription – what I’ve learned and tasted has paid for itself 10 times over! Aside from the deliciousness, I love to read about why the teas are paired together, comparing and contrasting – it’s a wonderful experience and once I have more moolah I will definitely join again :3

I’ve definitely been eyeing up a 52teas membership some day too! I hear great things :3

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I’ve also been eyeballing several ‘tea of the month’ clubs, including Verdant. Handmade Tea sounds really interesting, & I think it’s cool that they send small samples of individual the ingredients!

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52teas said

Monthly payments…. hmmmmmmmmmmmm…

I would do that when I can Frank, no question! maybe as an xmas treat. The longer subscription is a bit much at the moment, for me.

Alphakitty said

I really love the idea of a monthly tea subscription, I’d definitely go for it now and again! It’d be nice to just do one month at a time, less sticker shock.

I love the idea of monthly payments. I’d subscribe in a heartbeat!

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Aiko said

Man, you guys have me eyeballing Handmade Teas now too. It’s less tea than Verdant’s subscription but the presentation is just stunning. I… I almost want to do both now. I could make it work… if I never bought any tea again outside those two subscriptions, hah.

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Finn88 said

Oooh I wasn’t aware that 52 teas had a monthly club. I want to buy every single one that comes out but feel its the more expensive option. hmmmm

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Nik select said

Bookmarking this thread. Can’t do it right now, but when I can, I will have ALL THE TEAS.

That’s the spirit, Nik!

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Funny, Geoffrey and I were just talking this week about setting up a monthly payment program for our tea of the month, and adding more options to what sorts of themes/ pairings get shipped. I think we will be able to implement something in the next month- we just need to do some testing to make sure it works.

I really love the concept of Tea of the Month in general. It feels more like the way I used to drink tea living in China, where I would walk in to the tea market, and my friends would pick out whatever they wanted to make. It definitely helped me branch out faster and gain a tea education.

We are open to any Tea of the Month suggestions, as I want to roll out more options for the holidays. You can help me shape what the subscription program becomes with your feedback.

Aiko said

How awesome :>

I’m a little surprised that you would be considering offering multiple themes/pairings to choose from; not in a bad way, I just wonder how, with your small, well-curated selection, you could manage to have multiple “tracks” without a lot of overlap (unless perhaps you wished for the tracks to set apart the “pure” teas from the blends). I really love how it sounds right now, with the teas being carefully chosen according to the season.

I once knew of a monthly not-tea club that would email the members a week in advance of shipping letting them know the contents of that month’s package, and members had a few days to opt-out of that month and not be charged for it if they decided they were not interested. This addressed the problem of members receiving something they were completely unhappy with, or possibly allergic to. Admittedly though, you’d need to have a good system in place to handle that kind of thing (And personally, I’m not sure I would ever open those emails, since the element of surprise each month is a huge part of the fun to me.)

I personally would love to see discussions each month pertaining to the chosen pairing of tea. I love reading the articles on your blog, and I think it would be especially nice if there was a post each month explaining each pairing and the thought that went into it, and then opening the floor for members to comment and give their thoughts on the pairing. Participation in these discussions might even factor into your points/reward system (which, by the way, I love the concepts behind your reward system, even though I can’t use it due to my stubborn facebook boycott). In addition to drawing attention to the subscription option, it could take the club a step further, I think, possibly giving members the feeling of actually being a part of a special community as a subscriber, rather than just getting a nice box every month.

Furthermore, maybe consider other “outside the tea-box” perks, perhaps doubling tea-purchase reward points for subscribers (that might also help solve the potential problem of the club becoming so all-encompassing that subscribers never make any purchases outside of the membership fees.)

Another random idea for sparking inter-memebership discussion— occasionally including a “mystery” 7g or so tea with the monthly shipment (everyone gets the same tea). Only at the end of the month, after everyone has discussed what they think it might be, is the tea’s identity revealed (personally I would love having the opportunity to have my tea knowledge and palette tested this way).

Something else that would be nice: Including samples (assuming they aren’t part of the pairing) of newly-arrived teas in each month’s box. I know I would be quite drawn in if I knew membership pretty much guaranteed that I would at least get to try each new seasonal tea, especially the highly sought after ones that sell out quickly.

Wow, sorry, that was a massive ramble. But those are just some things that would personally draw me (someone who admittedly knows absolutely nothing about how to run a business) into a tea-club. They’re rather idealistic wishes, I’ll admit, but maybe it’ll give you some ideas :> I hope others will post their thoughts too!

(Regardless, I really love seeing all the passion behind Verdant Tea and your curated approach to not just selling tea, but sharing the tea experience with us; just keep doing what you’re doing!)

Babble said

I really like a lot of your ideas.

I like the idea of a surprise sample and including a sample of a newly-arrived tea.

Which tea club was it that notified you in advance? That’s very nice of them, but I’ve never known tea clubs to do that. It’s more of a “take what you can get”

Thanks for all the ideas. I think quite a few can be incorporated. I actually want to host a chat, maybe with video where I will go through the teas in the subscription, brew them up and allow everyone to talk or text about their own experiences. The transcripts and video would go up in a post for people who missed it, and to allow the conversation to continue.

I actually try to incorporate the new and seasonal teas already. Last month, everyone got to try all the new oolongs that sold out in 48 hours. I am also considering doing something with 7g reserve samples from teas I want to bring in from China but can’t afford to import quantities of for sale. Some would be super educational.

If we could manage rewards perks for members, I would do it in an instant. It just is a matter of finding the technology to make it happen. Usernames and passwords for member login could give us a way to make it work. I will think about it more…

As for different options, we shall see. I do have a small collection, but I am going to be traveling to China more and more frequently, which may allow for some special sourcing projects. More on that after I get back form my upcoming trip in October to visit Laoshan.

First, David, your teas are awesome & I love them (as evidenced by my reviews here, & also my frequent purchases lately). I also really enjoy the personal touch you add to your comments, etc. I have been planning to join the ‘tea of the month club’, & perhaps now that I’ve sampled almost everything you have it would be time to do so! I DO like a lot of the ideas Aiko had, including maintaining the surprise element, & the discussion idea!

I’ve almost joined Verdant’s tea club several times now :)I haven’t yet mostly because I’m afraid of missing something (I know that’s backwards, but hear me out). If the monthly shipment doesn’t include something I want to try, I’d have trouble justifying a second order just for one or two things. So, I would love it if there were some way to add things on to the monthly order. I do realize that could add a lot of work and complication, but it’s an idea. Knowing that you usually include the new teas makes me more likely to join anyway.

I love the idea of a video + chat where we can all brew and taste together! And/or a discussion forum for the pairing.

One more idea: whether or not you tell what the teas are in advance, consider letting people suspend their subscription for 1 month. Same total cost, same number of tea deliveries, but gives a little flexibility in case someone is traveling or just has too much tea to drink at the moment. Automatically resume the next month. This would make me more willing to go for the 6-month subscription too, since there’s some room for changing plans.

Aiko said

Rachel — I defined it as a “not-tea” club, heh, sorry. I should be more specific. I really don’t remember what kind of club it was (probably one of those fad diet/health food/protein shake/etc clubs), I just remember a friend of my mom’s trying to get her to buy into it and using the opt-out mechanism as a selling point.

I can certainly see that system having some issues though if people want to opt-out of all but the highest-value choices once knowing what they’ll be receiving; kind of defeats the point. It might benefit from having a limitation in place like only allowing 3 skips a year, or one skip per certain number of not-skips.

What might be more effective from a tea standpoint though, is to not reveal the exact contents of the box but still send out a little teaser email before shipping that very vaguely describes the teas, or even just some characteristics of the theme, and includes a list of possible allergens, if any. It keeps the mystery while priming the members for what awaits; stirs excitement, but alerts them of anything that they might want to steer away from.

(I’m aware the whole skipping-concept is probably way too convoluted to be useful at this point, but I guess I still enjoy logicking through what could work, heh.)

David — Happy to see your reply. I love the idea of a group chat with video, like a Google+ hangout kind of thing? Or were you thinking more of a one-way video stream with a chatroom, a la Ustream/Justin.tv?

I’m excited to hear about your incorporating the new/seasonal stuff into the subscriptions. It already sounds like something pretty special.

I understand technology being a barrier to a lot of the more complex stuff. But I really appreciate that you’re taking our feedback into consideration, even if a lot of it isn’t technologically feasible at the moment!

I also like teabird’s idea of appending an order onto the next monthly shipment rather than having it ship separately. Considering that would also save on shipping, might that be beneficial for everyone involved? It might be as simple as a checkbox, an extra parameter in the order form, “ship this with my next monthly shipment” or something. Or, it might be one of those huge complicated web-coding headaches; what do I know :P

Really enjoying this discussion!

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