How often do you throw yourself a tea party? It’s now easier than ever thanks to a subscription service that essentially mails you a tea party in a box. Andrea Reese is not only a fellow tea lover but also the founder of Tea Box Express, one of the tea related subscription boxes I recommend. Each month Andrea selects whole leaf teas along with other tea related goodies for subscribers to enjoy during their tea time. I actually curated April’s box which includes 1 tea, 4 special items to go with it and a little something extra (order the April box here until supplies last). After putting together a great box for next month, Andrea and I gathered at the tea table and chatted about how her love for tea made her start a business, what her ideal tea party looks like, and other fun topics.
The kettle is on and I can hear it about to sing. What tea are you going to steep for us today?
Something dark and bold! I most often reach for black tea and I like it strong.
How did your love for tea begin and eventually evolve into Tea Box Express?
I’ve been a tea drinker for a long time but it wasn’t until recent years that I started paying more attention to the different types of teas and whole leaf options. Once I started studying tea a little more, I realized there was a whole world of tea outside of tea bags and it became fun to experiment and taste and learn to brew whole leaves. I thought this would be something that others would enjoy too, which let to Tea Box Express, a way to explore whole leaf tea every month and enjoy it as part of a “tea party.”
I have since had the pleasure to work with and support many small brands and artisans of wonderful teas and other delicious goodies. Their dedication to their work and entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring!
You seem to always do a fabulous job at curating the perfect treats to go with a delicious tea. How do you go about selecting the items for each month’s box?
Why thank you! The tea almost always comes first as it’s central to the theme to the box. Then I choose other items that I think would be nice to enjoy with the tea, such as baked goods, sweeteners, and maybe an infuser. I spend a lot of time on Google looking for products that coordinate just right, taking into account size, value, and seasonality. Sometimes suppliers reach out to me, too.
It was such a fun opportunity to curate the April box with you. I can understand all the work (and excitement!) that comes with it every month now. If you had to pick just one Tea Box Express sent to subscribers that is your favourite, which one would it be?
Wow, tough question. So much thought goes into each box that they are all special to me in some way. I loved the box last October that included a teaspoon hand-carved in Kenya and black tea sourced from small-scale Kenyan farmers. I also really liked the box from last August that included a blooming tea because it was fun to see the social media pics of subscribers brewing the blooming tea. Last month’s Valentine’s themed box was super fun and colorful! As you can see it’s hard to pick!
Taking a moment for tea time is definitely important and I love that you’re working to promote that through your tea parties in a box. Tell us what your ideal tea party would look like.
For me, a tea party is more about the mindset and doesn’t have to be anything fancy (although it can be for a special occasion). It’s about taking a timeout, a “tea break,” a moment – and sometimes all we have is a moment, right? – to relax and enjoy doing something for yourself. So with that in mind, any tea and treats will do. A favorite of mine is black tea and either shortbread or a sugar cookie on a saucer. A bit of caffeine and a bit of sugar! I don’t mind a tea party for one, although a friend is welcome too! It’s a simple way to recharge that we can all do regularly. My hope is that each box sent becomes someone’s personal tea party.
Black, Green, Yellow, White, Oolong or Puerh?
Hot, Iced or Cold?
Cold! I drink a lot of tea both ways but always have a pitcher of cold tea in my fridge.
Teapot, Infuser or Gaiwan?
Straight, Sweetened or Latte?
Straight. Lightly sweetened if anything.
Cheese or Chocolate pairing?
Chocolate all the way!
You’re stranded on a desert island and you could only bring 3 tea related items. What did you bring?
Assuming I somehow have tea, I’m going to say a glass pitcher for making sun tea, a measuring spoon since I’m pretty serious about proportions, and honey because I think I’ll need the calories for quick energy. I hope there is a freshwater stream and that I can carve a cup out of a piece of wood!