Tea Runners Subscription Box Review – December 2017
Tea Runners is a subscription bringing you loose leaf teas from around the world each month–enough for 30-50 cups. You’ll also get tasting notes and brewing instructions.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Tea Runners
The Subscription Box: Tea Runners
The Cost: $25/month (save with longer subscriptions) + free US shipping
The Products: 0.75-1 oz each of four different teas (these are from established tea companies but are re-packaged by Tea Runners into resealable bags)
Ships to: US and Canada for free, internationally for $12.00
Tea Runners December 2017 Review
Tea Runners doesn’t have a monthly theme, and there is already plenty of information on each pouch of tea (as you will see below), so they use the information card to give you updates on the subscription, including some new options for 2018:
This card was included. Next year, you’ll be able to choose an herbal tea box or an “all black teas” box if that’s your thing.
Orange Crème Brulee Rooibos
This is a caffeine-free tea. I’ve often seen vanilla in combination with rooibos teas, but I haven’t had too many with orange. Um, this one smells amazing, both right out of the pouch and brewed. And it tastes just like it smells. I can tell this one will be disappearing quickly. Please note: I used disposable paper filter bags to brew these and I think that for this tea, that’s a good idea. The bits in the pouch are small and might fall through the holes of a mesh strainer.
Also note: these teas are not yet available in the Tea Runners shop so I have opted not to provide values–these specific blends are unbranded and it can be really difficult to judge whether search results ought to count as comparable items for small varieties/cultivars and unique flavor blends. You just can’t assess factors like stem/leaf ratio, etc. from an online listing!
Water Sprite Oolong
This tea has a medium level of caffeine. It definitely reminds me of a typical oolong, and it is my preference with oolongs to steep for a little less time than I usually would, at least the first time I try them, because I find it somewhat difficult to hit the sweet spot for flavor. Following the package directions worked pretty well here, though. I would recommend brewing this one in a steel mesh strainer or something with larger holes, as the leaves here are pretty large, and I think you’ll get a better tea experience in less time that way. This definitely had an “earthy” quality to it.
Simoa Spring Tips
This is a medium-to-high caffeine tea and is picked very early (just a few days after the buds sprout). It has very fine leaves and does well in a disposable paper strainer bag. This one is a little lighter in flavor than the oolong, and I guess I agree with the description on the pouch that it is a bit sweeter, but I am not sure I got anything approaching “sweet potato” out of the flavor! Maybe my palate is just not that sophisticated…
Pu-Erh Vanilla Mint
This also has cinnamon in addition to vanilla and mint. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about cinnamon and mint together, but it actually works quite well here (and harmonizes with the Pu Erh, as well). This is a medium caffeine tea that doesn’t have an overpowering flavor, despite the dark color when brewed (see below). This one is good for a winter morning and the cinnamon doesn’t get too strong with extended steeping. This one would work well in a disposable paper tea bag or in a steel mesh strainer.
Here are the teas, brewed. I used disposable paper filter bags. See the discussions of the individual teas as to whether I think this was a good idea in each case. These appear in the same order as in the review; that is, from left to right: the orange crème brulee rooibos, the water sprite oolong, the Simoa spring tips, and the vanilla mint Pu-Erh.
The Verdict: I was not able to calculate a value for the December Tea Runners, for reasons explained above (in brief, these are unbranded, sometimes unique blends and it is just difficult to compare tea varieties online). With this subscription, you always know you’re going to get about one ounce of each of four different teas, so you are paying, on average, about $6.25 per tea. The quality of each blend and/or tea seems high, and I regularly encounter varieties with this subscription that I just don’t see anywhere else. (For what it’s worth, this subscription would be a better fit for someone comfortable with Asian-style teas as well as Western-style teas–the oolong and spring tips, especially, were pretty earthy this month.)
With this subscription, I also think there is value in the curation. Left to my own devices, I would just be ordering bulk bags of Dragonwell or Irish Breakfast and not really be experiencing anything new. Even though I’ve been drinking tea for a couple of decades, I tend to stick to my comfort zone, and I’ve learned that I’m really missing out that way. Tea Runners provides a safe way to sample new varieties without amassing a pantry full of 1 pound bags I may never finish.
To Wrap Up:
Can I still get this box if I sign up today? No, order now to get the Winter box!
Value Breakdown: This box costs $25.00 per month (with free shipping), and I received four 0.75-1 oz. packages of tea. That means I paid an average price of $6.25 per package of tea.
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