My tea stash has been growing a lot this year, but we're too far from our families to easily share it. After a bit of online inspiration, we hit on the idea of mini-samplers.
I've seen a lot of different vendors offering holiday samplers, but they tend to be a grab bag of both the good and the bad... and generally the packaging is little more than useless. Cheap, flimsy, and unable to be resealed.
So our first stop was to look at packaging. I thought briefly about glass bottles, but the combination of cost and shipping woes (breakage, additional weight, etc.) sent me in the direction of tins. They tend to be less expensive, more durable, easily recyclable, and don't let in light that could damage the tea. Since I'm sending tea to a lot of people who may not have experienced loose leaf tea before, the less complicated the better.
Besides, I know my family. The moment I say something like, "Keep it out of the light" I just know I'd have to deal with questions like, "Will it sparkle?" or "Will it burst into flame?" or even, in one notable case, "Or will it mutate into some homicidal gremlin bent on world domination?"
On the recommendation of another tea lover, I headed over to Specialty Bottle's website to check out their selection. They had a lot of different versions I was interested in, but I wasn't sure how many servings of tea each would hold.
I don't want to overwhelm someone with too much of a tea they may or may not like, nor do I want to come off like a cheapskate by sending too little tea for them to sample.
Specialty Bottle came to the rescue, and sent me a selection of their tins to experiment with. I picked three teas to measure: a finely chopped black, a fluffy herbal, and my largest leaf tea. Here's how they measured up:
Teavava's Earl Grey Black
1/2oz tin: 2tsp, 2 servings
1oz tin: 4tsp, 4 servings
Tea tin: 13tsp, 13 servings
1/2oz tin: 2tsp, 1-1/3 servings
1oz tin: 4tsp, 2-2/3 servings
Tea tin: 12tsp, 8 servings
1/2oz tin: 1-1/2 tsp, but the leaves are so large that this is probably closer to one serving.
Then comes the decorating. I picked up a selection of holiday themed borders, stickers, and papers, as well as double-sided tape. I already had a rotary cutting set from my quilting, but a ruler and scissors would work as well if you don't have those on hand.
Now that I've had a chance to measure and decorate, here's how they stack up:
TNF1/2 - 1/2oz Flat Tin Container w/ cover
- Small and cute, this holds 1-2 servings of tea. This one was tricky to decorate, as only a 3cm circle on the lid really takes to it. In the image of the decorated tins, this was #10.
TNF1 - 1oz Flat Tin Container w/ cover
- The same format but twice the size, this holds 2-4 servings depending on the size of the leaves. In the image, this was #14 and 21. Essentially, decorating this one was the same as decorating its screw-top sister, and took a 4cm circle.
TND1 - 1oz Deep Tin Container w/ cover
- The width of the first tin with the capacity of the second, this holds 2-4 servings of tea. In the image of the decorated tins, this was #5, 16, and 17. Decorating this one was a combination of the two - the flat circular lid and just enough height to fit a 1.25cm border around the body.
TSC1/2 - 1/2oz Flat Tin Container w/ screw-top cover
- The same dimensions and capacity of the first tin with a screw top cover that makes transportation a breeze. In the image, this was #8.
TSC1 - 1oz Flat Tin Container w/ screw-top cover
- The same dimensions and capacity of the second tin, but with a reliable screw top cover. In the image of the decorated tins, this was #12.
TSQ2 - 2.5" high Tea Tin Square w/ Cover
- The largest of the tins, this holds 8-13 servings and was the easiest to decorate. There is a 3.5cm square on lid, and the main body is 17cm around with a height of 4.5cm.
If I was sending a single tea out to everyone, I would probably go for the square tea tin, but to send out a nice sampling, I think the best bet is going to be the 1/2oz deep tin. It's a little easier to decorate and looks better stacked up, since I want to be able to bag these up with a nice bow when gifting.