Vendors and Merchants- Your Packaging Matters!

Yes, ultimately the quality of your tea is what’s important but the attention you give to how that product is packaged tells us a little about how much care went into its production.

I won’t embarrass the two merchants here but I just recently received two shipments from what are considered to be “premium” tea suppliers. This is based on the price paid as well as their reputation in the market.

In both instances, the packaging made the product look like it was thrown together in someone’s basement. From one supplier, the tea had hand written labels on foil pouches that were completely illegible. From the other, the tea was in a tin. However, the tin was labelled with a standard Avery address label run through an inkjet printer and the label was slapped on the tin crooked.

My little, local shops take pride in the presentation of their teas and they always look professional whether you’re buying 50g or just a sample. I know you want to keep production costs low, but if you want to be seen as a “premium” brand, you have to look at least as good as something coming out of Wal-mart.

23 Replies

Yay, Paul you said it. In addition, if you want to handwrite it then a person with neater handwriting is in order and if you want to print your own label then a custom label for your company and a better printer. Most of all take the extra second to make it straight. I am sure that won’t effect the bottom line. Even I label my teas I give away with clearly printed labels and place them on straight, too funny. Good news is I bet the tea is great and of course that is the bottom line, but still I agree.

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cody said

I am terribly finicky about packaging. I usually prefer things with very little packaging… but, tea doesn’t really work that way… so, then I guess I prefer that things look nice. After all, it’s going to be in my cupboard for quite awhile. It should at least look appealing.

Honestly, Damn Fine Teas had my attention on package design alone. I plan on giving Caravan away soon… but, you can bet the tin won’t be going with it. (MINE!)

Arbor Teas has fully compostable packaging, which is about as close to packaging-free as you can get… AND it still looks nice. (Even if I stored all my samples in old Adagio tins immediately after opening…)

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What are your thoughts for labeling with the intent for customers reuse the tins?

I may not be a business but occasionally put together tea programs or samplers and sell to raise money for local nonprofits. I used to go all-out with custom engraving and applied graphics on the powder finish of the tins. Then I started using the Avery labels and used an inkjet printer, followed by the small easy-to-remove folder labels written with a pen. Now I’m using a small bit of recycled masking tape specially designed for drafting and I just write in permanent ink (tried soy but it wipes off too easily). I did this to cut down on the amount of wasteful side-products that were going into the labeling and to make it as easy as possible to remove my label and replace with another. I hate label glue residue and assume others don’t want to deal with it as well.

Any suggestions on how to make tea tins not look trashy or unprofessional but allow for easy removal and relabeling while not using products with excessive extraneous byproducts?

This is something that’s been nagging at me for the past four years and I’m really glad to find it in the forum!

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I have to respectfully disagree. Some of the best, highest quality teas that I’ve ever come across have been in not so fancy packaging.

I appreciate nice packaging as much as the next person. I have fallen prey to the pretty tin and purchased tea based only on the packaging… but, I’ve also passed up some beautiful tins because I knew the tea in them was substandard.

You can put lipstick and an evening gown on a pig but at the end of the day, it’s still just a pig in fancy clothing.

cody said

But most people’s impulse to buy is based on appearance… and this is especially true with food and drink. Actually tasting the product, or hearing someone else’s opinion on it is a better way to know what you’re in for, but that isn’t generally your first impression of it. (Though, spending time here, it might be more often than not…)

Like you said, you’ve purchased things based on packaging and been disappointed, but you’ve passed up on others because you KNEW they were substandard… Taste overrules packaging, but when packaging is all you have to go on, it’s an important aspect.

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Spot52 select said

I like it when the packaging is cool, but it is not essential to me. I do not mind the plastic resealable pouches with a label on them. I would say that a hand written label would turn me off a little. The tea would have to be amazing, for the price.
I do not like foil pouches that are not resealable.

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Harfatum said

For online merchants, as long as I can tell which tea is inside and the packaging is not destructive to the tea, I’m satisfied. It can be nice to see merchants go beyond that, but it isn’t worth it to me to pay much more for it. I like how Upton and some other merchants let you choose foil/Mylar pack or tin.

cody said

That’s a good point. I would like to see more places have a choice of a nice tin or simple packaging, because I really don’t need to buy the tin more than once. And I do like companies that have a reusable label on the pouches to be used on a separately-purchased tin.

I noticed Lupicia has options between tins with nice labels and bags. They are cheaper if bagged too so that is great. Nice to have a choice.

Lori said

I also like a choice. I prefer bags as they take up less room than tins….

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she steeps said

For me, it is important that the packaging protect the tea during shipping. I have received teas in the mail that were first packed in the thin metalic pouches, then sent in a thin bubble wrap pouch, which my postman then crammed in my mailbox. If vendors put teas in pouches, I think they should send them in boxes. I always send my teas out in boxes to protect the teas.

wombatgirl said

You wrap things up amazingly. My recent order from you was almost like opening a present.

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Cofftea said

I just thought of this already existing article that may interest you
http://steepster.com/discuss/533-advice-for-tea-merchants

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From a tea vendor point of view:
I 100% agree, packaging and presentation is very important. It’s the initial package that gives the 1st impression of your company, and 1st impressions are the ones that last.
That being said, I personally use tins that can be re-purposed. We even offer a discount for customers who are re-purposing a tin… and it doesn’t have to be ours. We sell the re-fill teas in a 100% biodegradable bag. Our tins have a label printed on compostable paper that is NOT glued or tapes to the can, the paper adhesives to itself by wrapping it around the tin, making it super easy to remove and re-use the tin for what ever the consumer wants. Our tins also have a transparent plastic lid. I chose this so people could see their teas, and it goes along with our company philosophy of “transparency”.
Sorry for the ramble… I just want to give a retailers perspective.

Thanks for the information. I love the fact that your tins have easy to remove labels and the option to buy refills.

Thanks for the label idea!

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Spot52 select said

I always liked Adagio’s tins, but I am also glad they quit using them. It was frustrating know that you paid for tea by volume and not weight. The one size fits all tin is just no good. But it was cool that you could order by bag. And of course they always shipped in boxes, this is very important for attempted whole leaf preservation.

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