Toronto Tea Lovers, Celebrate with Tea – Support & Shop Local with The Sugared Teacup’s *NEW* Tea Gift Box Business!

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IT’S ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!!!!!!!!  Ate by Ate’s sister, The Sugared Teacup, (http://www.thesugaredteacup.com) has been preoccupied for the last little while for a veeeery good reason and the news is out: THE SUGARED TEACUP IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!!  The Sugared Teacup has partnered with many of Toronto’s finest local tea shops and businesses to give you a “Taste of Toronto” tea-style for the holidays and hopefully into the new year and beyond with SPECIAL THEMED TEA BOXES!

I’m beyond ecstatic and excited and nervous and every other crazy emotion imaginable because this is my baby.  The Sugared Teacup is no longer just a blog; it’s a business idea and brand that I have put my heart and soul into for months and I am overjoyed that I can watch it grow with the love and support from the community – the blogging community, the tea community, our local community, and so many others.

Okay, so before I dive in and give everyone the details on how make a purchase, I want to explain how this all came about from the very beginning.  Back in September, I was laying in bed when I was suddenly struck with an idea: how great would it be to start a tea box subscription business with the local tea shops and businesses?!  Subscription box services have been growing in popularity over the last number of years.  Everything from organic food, cosmetics, stationery, and books can be delivered to your doorstep every month in a fun and unique package of goodies.  Tea boxes have definitely been a part of the fun so while I knew this was not a new idea and that I certainly wasn’t re-inventing the wheel by thinking about this, I knew I wanted to put my own mark on it and make it different from anything else out there.  So I got to work.

How are The Sugared Teacups’s Tea Boxes (“Sugared Tea Boxes”!) different?  It’s all about keeping everything local.  As I’m envisioning this idea unfold as time goes on, I absolutely want to involve other tea businesses (and tea-related businesses!) in Ontario and the rest of Canada but for the time being, this idea has its roots in Toronto – literally.  There are many tea box businesses out there that operate in many different ways.  Some use smart technology to determine what type of tea drinker you are by having you take a survey and they base their monthly selections on that profile.  Other businesses send a surprise box each month.  And others focus and introduce their subscribers to different brands and businesses from across the globe, all the while sourcing their own teas.  The Sugared Teacup tea boxes are all about 1) supporting Toronto tea businesses, 2) giving tea lovers lots of fun and variety, and 3) allowing everyone to try teas they wouldn’t normally go out of their way to try.

When I was chewing on this idea back in September, I thought about why I loved the idea so much and why others would too.  Not only is this a huge creative outlet for me (I decorate and personalize every box!  The crafting scrapbook princess in me is so ridiculously happy right now!), the tea boxes target some of the issues some people face when it comes to tea and shopping for it.  For example, some are deterred from ordering online because they need to spend x amount of dollars for free shipping, otherwise they could be spending more on shipping than they are on the tea.  Now this wouldn’t be an issue for those who are dedicated to a specific brand or business.  However, I know there are many who don’t want to spend so much on teas they may not like in such large quantities (for example, in 50g or 100g quantities).  These tea boxes give you the variety and the opportunity to try many teas in smaller amounts.  Some teas come in full size (there are some in special tins!), but the majority of the teas come in smaller pouches so instead of hemming and hawwwing over trying to choose 1 or 2 full size teas at full price, you get at least 5 teas in adorable packaging!

There are also many people who love tea but are unadventurous in their exploration of the city.  I know there are folks who’ve never even ridden the subway or streetcar!  So the likeliness of them discovering these different tea shops and business is very low.  There are SO MANY amazing tea shops and businesses here in Toronto so these boxes give everyone the chance to get to know them without having to schlep out there visiting 6 different places or feeling overwhelmed and not having a clue what they should try or feeling uncertain of what they might like.  I blog so I do this anyway for a living!  And because I love doing it.  Not to mention I’m used to choosing teas for people who don’t know what they want (like my brother!  And my mom!  And others!).  But not everyone is going to wake up at the crack of dawn to haul their tooshie out to buy tea.  I do the work for you by putting together a fantastic box of tea based on your preferences (more about that below), giving you a “taste of Toronto”.  Because at the heart of it, that’s what this is!  I kept thinking to myself, “well, for me, I would LOVE it if I could try a bunch of local teas from say, Vancouver.  Or Nova Scotia.  Or Seattle.  Or anywhere!”  I wish someone could send me a box of teas like that.  So I thought, “well, why don’t I do that for Toronto?”

And that is how The Sugared Teacup Tea Boxes were born!

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In a nutshell, I’m offering 6 different themed tea boxes (as well as a special Earl Grey Lovers box!): black tea, green tea, mixed teas (black, green, rooibos), herbal/rooibos/caffeine-free, fruity teas, and dessert teas.  You choose the type of box(es) you’d like and I put together a fabulous selection of teas from all the wonderful shops and businesses based on this selection!  It’s that easy!

This is the soft launch for the holidays, meaning if it does well, I’ll be growing the business by offering subscriptions and shipping across the country (and maybe the US if I can make it work!).  FOR THE HOLIDAY SOFT LAUNCH THOUGH, I am keeping it entirely local, meaning Markham and Toronto pick-ups and drop-offs for tea box purchases.  

Head on over to the Tea Boxes page on The Sugared Teacup’s menu bar (http://www.thesugaredteacup.com/teaboxes) to fill out a form to make a purchase – I have a BLACK FRIDAY WEEK INTRODUCTION PROMOTION GOING ON THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!  All online transactions will be handled using PayPal.  If you’re uncomfortable purchasing online or if you would prefer to not use PayPal and pay in cash, please feel free to download an order form using the PDF file link at the bottom of the Tea Boxes page; you can e-mail me at thesugaredteacup@hotmail.com telling me what selections and quantities you’d like and you can simply bring me a hard copy of the form for receipt purposes upon pick-up and drop off.

I’ve been working really hard to turn this idea, dream, and passion into a reality and I am SO thankful and grateful for the tea shops and businesses that have so graciously jumped on board with it!  (Check out the Tea Boxes page to see which tea shops and businesses I’ve partnered with so far!).  This is just the beginning of a crazy new chapter in The Sugared Teacup’s journey and I am so happy and excited to have you all be a part of it.  SUPPORT LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL!  Let the games begin!

 

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Tea in TO – Blackcurrant Tea & a Newfound Love of Twinings of London!

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Get ready for some gushing: this is a long overdue love letter to the tart and sweet, juicy blackcurrant flavour and the empire of teas, Twinings of London!  I know, I know.  I’m either embarrassingly clueless or just really, really, REALLY late to the party.  In this case, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little bit of both.  People have most likely been sipping away on this wonderful tea for eons while I’m here just raving about it now!  Twinings of London has been around for what seems like an eternity (I read they are celebrating 300+ years and counting, good lord!) and aside from passing by and throwing very brief glances at their tea boxes in some supermarkets, I had never bought a box to try until now and this newfound love makes me all smiley and excited!  It’s such a surreal feeling, one of those, “where have you been all my life?!”  or for that matter, “where the heck have I been?!” moments when you realize that you so totally could have been learning about it and enjoying it sooner.

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The love didn’t just poof into existence in a day though.  It all started with the Twinings Tassimo T-Discs I saw at work late last year.  Then I happened upon a beautiful magazine ad of a Twinings tea collection on a bookshelf.  A gorgeous, beautiful tea collection!  And finally, my fellow FBCer Heather Mulholland of Tea With Me did me in when she told me about her trip to the actual Twinings Tea Shop in London when we met at FBC2013.  And then she went ahead and did one better: she sent me a sample of a lavender Earl Grey she had purchased from the shop in London.  Well, colour me freakin’ ecstatic and say hello to a new tea obsession!  As mortifying as it is to admit that Twinings was never part of my foodie/tea world until I snapped out of my cluelessness this year, I like to look on the bright side of things: there are SO MANY delicious flavours to Ooo and ahhh over and try and by golly I have the rest of my life to try them!

My first official box?  Their blackcurrant!  Over the last year I have truly fallen head over heels for the blackcurrant flavour all over again.  Not only do I adore Bobbette & Belle’s blackcurrant/cassis macarons, but it also makes me feel all warm and fuzzy because the flavour itself brings back childhood memories.

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When I was little, I couldn’t get enough of the Ribena blackcurrant juice drink my parents used to get from the Chinese supermarkets.  I would feel so grown up lifting those heavy bottles all by myself, pouring some into a glass and diluting it with drinking water so it wouldn’t be too thick and concentrated.  It was my favourite drink growing up and I would always enjoy it with my dad by my side as he loved it just as much as I did.  Some kids thrive on milk.  Others get a little addicted to soda.  And then there are those who are more than content with juice boxes.  Me?  Ribean blackcurrant juice all the way, baby.  For me, this is the love of tea and the nostalgia of my childhood all wrapped into one sweet and charming Twinings of London box and you can bet it will always be close to my heart well after the tea pouches are gone.

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And for those of you who are wondering where this sweet little box came from, it came from one amazing supermarket chock full of European foods and goodies, a food emporium I’ll be posting about tomorrow.  Stay tuned for my upcoming post on the European foodie powerhouse in town known as Yummy Market!