Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teabook Subscription Service

Over the years I've reviewed more than my fair share of tea subscription services. There are a lot of choice out there and after a while they all start to look a bit the same. My attention was caught my +Teabook when I saw Marzipan's review on TeaLover.Net. Luckily they contacted me shortly after to do a review. Right off the bat I was drawn in by the beautiful, tea-centric packaging. Everywhere I looked there little touches and hidden quotes. And velum. Have I mentioned my secret weakness for velum? It might be from my past life as a scrapbooker and crafty Girl Scout leader.

Rather than sending out seemingly random assortments of bulk teas, Teabook sets itself apart by sending pre-portioned packets of carefully curated selections. Each shipment contains 15-17 packets of tea. New subscribers also receive a glass tumbler in their first box which allows them to brew the tea "grandpa style". I thought this was a really fresh approach that breaks down a lot of the barriers that prevent people from giving better teas a try. It's a no fussy way of getting started that takes out a lot of the guess work, especially for those that are on the go a lot. Now on to the tea.

Dian Hong

The leaves were mostly whole buds with a few larger leaves. Golden tips were scattered heavily throughout. This tea was earthy and sweet with the maltiness that I love so much about Yunnan black teas. Each packet contained just enough to keep it from getting bitter but it was by no means a weak tea. I was able to get two full tumblers full of flavor followed by a lighter third round. Given my druthers I much prefer other ways of brewing this type of tea but I tried to judge it as they intend it to be consumed.

Dragon Well

Dragonwell is one of my favorite green teas and one that works very well for drinking in this kind of tumbler. The leaves were a bit more broken then I'd like but the classic chestnut aroma was still there. I was able to get two good brews from each packet of leaves. It was vegetal but still neutral enough to appeal to green tea newbies. If left to brew for a longer period of time it will become slightly astringent (as would be the case for most green teas). I suggest drinking this one more quickly than the Dian Hong.

Xiang Ming

The tea that I was probably the most excited about trying was the elusive single blue packet. The wrapper explained that it was a special selection from the owner's private collection. Although it is a Hunan green tea, I think I have to agree with +Amanda Wilson when she said it could pass for a Dan Cong oolong. The taste was delicate and sweet with lots of honeysuckle-like floral aromas. I had to jump on the bus to work shortly after filling up my tumbler and it was the kind of tea that brought out a sigh of relaxation even among the chaos.

I did have a bit of trouble with the glass tumbler but admit that it was mostly my fault. Some tea (liquid, not leaves) got stuck between the glass and the lid, creating a vacuum. I was unable to get it open but was afraid to do anything too drastic for fear of breaking the glass. You know what wound up working in the end? I used an old yoga mat to get a bit of a non-slip grip. That made me very happy because my beloved tumbler is operational again. Of course, any tea can be used in the tumbler but you may need a bit of trial and error to figure out how much leaf to use. Whatever amount you think you'll need, cut it in half. It may not look like it but less than 1/2 of a teaspoon will usually get the job done.

In conclusion I would definitely recommend giving Teabook a try, either for yourself or as a gift. The payment options for subscriptions are flexible but there is also a variety of one-time products available. If I had a desk job and didn't have tea coming out my ears, I might subscribe just to keep the box in my cubicle for an easy way to get a tasty caffeine fix.

Product provided for review by Teabook.