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December has officially arrived, but even before Halloween, store fronts were starting to display their “holiday wares” to entice us to spend, spend, spend! Some of those stores include yummy looking food and drink options in pretty packages. But before you purchase that tea gift box or basket with the sparkly cellophane and the big, gold bow, there are 3 things to consider:

Just what IS in that tea.

In Canada, ingredients do have to be declared in descending order in relation to their weight before they are packaged, with the exception of herbs & spices, natural & artificial flavours, and flavour enhancers. Salt is the exception to the exception and does have to be listed.

Often gift tea sets are flavoured black teas. There’s nothing wrong with that…but if the only ingredients listed are black tea and flavouring, you may not be getting the best tasting tea. Put it this way: sno-cones only have 2 ingredients too: water and flavoured syrup. It may be tasty and satisfying…or is it just a weak version of slightly flavoured, coloured water?

Where is it Made

I don’t mean to sound like a snob, but if you’ve tried a few teas, you’ll recognize the truth when I say: not all tea is equal. The quality of tea depends on so many variants: the quality of the plant, when it was harvested, the process it undergoes, etc.

In 2020, the top 5 countries for tea production were China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. China is the leading producer and exporter of tea. They produce various types of tea, including green, black and oolong. China’s history is “steeped” in a culture of tea. As a result, the taste and environment for growing and harvesting tea leaves is greatly considered. India was at the center of tea’s migration across the globe, and is still best known for assam and darjeeling tea. Tea is also a huge part of India’s culture, and more than half of the tea produced annually remains in the country. Kenya is third, and is the world’s largest exporter of black tea. It only began tea production in the early 1900’s. Sri Lanka rates fourth and is best known for ceylon tea. Vietnam is also a country with tea “steeped” into the culture. Tea is viewed as a contemplative activity, or something to be consumed while engaged in scholarly pursuits, rather than part of a social engagement. They produce mostly green tea, but are also known for their lotus tea.

It’s just something to consider when considering your purchase if you haven’t heard of the country (or the brand).

Value for the Package

Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you don’t. Marketers know how to manipulate your senses to get your attention, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. With our mouths watering over candy pink boxes and red velvet ribbons, we don’t always consider just how much tea we’re getting for the price we’re paying. I clued in when I started purchasing more loose leaf tea and realized just how much 50g really is, and the range for what I’m paying for that tiny 50g.

Did you know…Monkey Chief Tea, grown in Huangshan City in China earned the title of “King of Green Tea” at the International Tea Expo in 2004. In 2009 its price reached about $284 USD per gram.


It might be more work but also more cost effective to purchase tea that you know is good, or a brand that hasn’t disappointed in the past. You can always put together your own gift basket. Add some curling ribbon or a personal note to let that person know you chose it with them in mind. It won’t remind marketers that sometimes personal is better than flashy, but you will remind the person receiving the gift that they mean something to you.

Photo by Michelle on Unsplash

It’s easy to get distracted by ribbon and sparkle, but it’s also important as a consumer, to consider what we’re supporting. And by all means, yes! Bless your loved ones. Because in the end, it IS the thought that counts!

Happy shopping! Happy Monday!