A UK tea subscription company that brings together an array of exclusive blends, total classics and traditional single origin teas. This is True Tea Club and this is their service.
Every month you’ll receive four different teas, but the actual quantity of each depends on the service you choose. For the Standard subscription it's suggested that you'll get 20g of each tea, equating to around 40 cups, for Premium this extends to 60 cups and Deluxe, 80 cups.
If you don’t have an infuser, don’t worry, the subscription box also includes four empty teabag sachets. A great addition for those just starting the exploration of tea.
As is the norm with tea box subscriptions, the True Tea Club packages are small enough to fit through a standard letterbox, which means no depot visits for missed packages! Yay! Delivery in the UK is also free, but again this tends to be the norm. Overseas? No problem, True Tea Club has a flat fee of £3.50 for international shipping. A fair price, considering you could order to anywhere in the world!
Image from True Tea Club
Again this depends on the service you choose, but Standard is only £10, with Premium being £15 and Deluxe £20. You can also order in bulk of 3, 6 and 12 months, which offers a slight discount in comparison to if you pay monthly.
If you happen to fall in love with a particular tea, it may be available in a larger quantity from their online store. You get a special code giving you 15% off, just for being a subscriber. UK residents again get free delivery, as long as you spend over £10.
How is this Subscription Different?
The Club provides 4 examples for how their subscription differentiates and I’m going to outline my thoughts on all of them… honestly.
1. Exclusive Club Blends.
It’s true, the subscription does offer some lovely looking exclusive blends... But the majority of similar services are offering their own exclusive blends too. True Tea Club also claim to have a collection of 126 blends, which can all be bought through their online tea shop. However, after nosing through the site, I found only 89 teas and not all of them were blends. The Club said that at the moment not all their blends were listed on the site, but they would be added shortly.
2. Delicious & Healthy (& Ethical)
Ok. I can’t really argue with the delicious and healthy. Everyone knows how good tea tastes, as well as the potential benefits it can render. But again… This isn’t really exclusive to the company, it’s a generic tea thing right?!
My main objection is the use of the word ethical, suggesting the teas are sourced with moral consciousness. They note the support of small grassroots suppliers, but buying from a small business doesn’t automatically equate to the products being ethical. I contacted the company to find out more and learned that none of their teas are fair trade and only 18 teas, which is less than 10% or their range, were organic. After a few messages with the company, they still couldn't explain how their teas were ethical and later stated that they had now removed this wording from their website. Not so ethical after all.
3. 24 Hour International Dispatch
I actually think this is one of the best perks. You can order a box anytime of the monthly, from anywhere in the world and within 24 hours the box will be on its way to you. No waiting for the company specific date… You want it, you’ll get it. I’ve not seen this with other companies, usually they have a set dispatch date and if you order after said date, you’re left waiting a whole month. So, it's great that a company HAS FINALLY done this, but confusingly, another page quoted that items would be dispatched within 1-2 days... Hmmm...
4. We Listen to our Customers
As mentioned above, I contacted the company regarding ethical claims. Credit to them, they got back to me almost instantly. When they couldn’t answer my questions they stopped responding, but they would start the conversation a few days later to confirm something. It was a little annoying not knowing if they would get back to me or not, so a brief “hey, let me check, we’ll get back to you” would have been more reassuring and overall, better customer service. On a positive note, they seem to have listened to what I had to say and opted to do something about it.
What they Didn’t List
There is a benefit that they haven’t specifically listed! Yes, I have a positive! That’s the content options. Of course, there’s the usual, no nuts and decaf only, but they also offer dairy free and vegan only options. This isn’t something I’ve come across in other services I’ve previously reviewed. (If those brands have this now, it’s a new feature). Creative blends contain all sorts of ingredients that make them unsuitable for these sorts of diets, so adding these options is a great touch, even though plain tea is naturally vegan.
Enough of being critical of the Clubs online delivery, it's time to get down to what’s really important. The tea!
Rainbow Chaser – Herbal Infusion
Ingredients: Apple Pieces, Blackberry Leaves, Sultanas, Orange Peel, Safflower, Peppermint, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Peel, Nettle Leaves, Strawberry Pieces, Blue Cornflower Blossoms, Marigold Blossoms and Rose Petals.
Brewing Technique: 100°C, 5-10 Minutes
Tasting Notes: Look at those colours! Part of me never wanted to steep this, just so I could keep this pretty little tea in my collection, FOREVER! Alas, I did eventually plop the whole sample in a teapot and as the combination of herbs, fruits and flowers steeped, mint notes started enticing me to prematurely pour a cup. I didn’t, but I also didn’t make it through the WHOLE 10 minutes before curiosity got the better of me, stopping the steeping at about 7 minutes in. At this point the cup develops a distinctly lemon aroma, which would usually set alarm bells ringing, as I HATE hot lemon. Luckily, it was more lemon sherbet than Lemsip, so I felt pretty relaxed about giving the blend a taste. The flavour… well it’s actually pretty subtle. I could see why the packet suggested 10 minutes, in order to give full force to the flavours, which are predominantly a floral field taste mingled with gentle lemon and mint. Anyone can see that this is an aesthetically beautiful blend, but none of these notes are particularly punchy or overpowering. It's perhaps a decent pre-bed sort of tea.
Earl Grey Rebel – Black Tea Blend
Ingredients: Black Tea, Assam Leaf, Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Cornflower Petals and Natural Flavouring
Brewing Technique: 100°C, 2-3 minutes
A bit of disclosure here. I lost this one. Face Palm. I received the subscription box right before I went travelling around Europe earlier this year and it was supposed to come with me, but I forgot to pack it. Somewhere between then and relocating to Canada it went missing! True Tea Club did offer to send me some more, but I declined as I wanted have the review published before it would have chance to arrive. I do know from fellow tea bloggers, who received the same subscription pack courtesy of True Tea Club, that it was a wonderful citrus-y earl grey.
Mighty Mango - Fruity Green Tea
Ingredients: Green Tea, Sunflower Blossom and Flavouring.
Brewing Technique: 80°C, 10-20 Seconds
Tasting Notes: The aroma is succulent and fruity. I don’t know what they flavoured it with, but they got the scent damn near dialed to perfection. It smells so good you could scoop it out and eat it. Obviously don’t do that, steep it. I found that the recommend time really wasn't enough, creating a very weak tea. Steeped for longer, the leaves create a nice fruity liquid, that I think would be even nicer iced. Perfect for summer!
Ingredients: Rooibos, Orange Peel, Banana Chips, Papaya Strips, Rose Petals, Cornflower Petals, Marigold Petals and Natural Flavouring
Brewing Technique: 100°C, 3-5 Minutes
Tasting Notes: The listed ingredients and name enticed excitement! However, I wasn’t keen on the aroma of this one. It’s like every individual ingredient clashed, a concoction that gave me a mild headache. Despite the less than appealing aroma, the actual cup was really tasty! The ingredients toned down the rooibos, into a more cake-like flavour, making an easily pleasing replacement for dessert.
The tea looks and tastes good and that's probably one of the most important things. However, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down when really looking at the company. Despite my critical review, I do feel like these fellow tea lovers are really trying, but are perhaps just making a few mistakes along the way. I hope they can learn from them and this review. A little more consistency with the product and website wording would go a long way to eliminating any future confusion with the subscription service! At the moment this is a good service, but it's by no means the best service.