Buying Teas on a Budget: Deals, Samples and Sharing the Tea Love!

Oolong Owl's Buying teas on a budget seeking deals and sharing the tea love

Once you get into teas you realize the HUGE number of great tea sellers and variety of teas. The world of tea opens up once you step away from the grocery aisle.

There are tea sellers who carry cheesecake, root beer, bubble gum or cake flavored teas. Fandom teas are out there inspired from Dr. Who, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Tea sellers who sell grown in the wild teas picked from a hill somewhere in China. With that said, if you wanted to try it all – you’d need to spend lots of cash. Or, if you are like me – scoring deals equals MORE $$$$ LEFT FOR MORE TEA!

From my experience, here are some ways to score deals for tea and maximize your purchases:

1. Check ratings on Steepster / website / tea bloggers before committing to buy the tea.

See a tea you like? Further cement that you need to try it by checking how others thought on Steepster. Reviews on the tea sellers’ site are good in a pinch, but you’ll get more experience seeing more reviews are less likely to be biased from bloggers and Steepster, as we tend to rate or log everything, rather than only writing  reviews if we love or utterly disliked a tea. I’ve passed on teas after seeing stuff like “flavoring/base is weak”, “it’s supposed to have sprinkles/fruit chunks but I only got 3 in my whole 1oz bag”, “doesn’t taste like the description” or “very bitter!” Further on, seek out tea reviewers or bloggers that have similar tastes to you or like the same teas.

2. Seek out sample sizes

I DISLIKE when a tea seller only sells in large sizes. 2 oz or 50 grams is my limit on size and ONLY if it’s a good deal or I heard good things about that tea or I’ve purchased from the seller before. I prefer buying 1 oz /20 gram sizes or even smaller – some tea sellers sell samplers for about 2 cups of tea. This way, you can try the tea before spending much money on it. A perk most tea sellers do is include samples with your order, especially if you can choose the samples. That way, you can purchase the teas you really want, and get samples of teas you aren’t 100% you’d like, then go from there.

Often, local tea sellers have free samples you can taste right in store – though be weary and ask lots of questions of the samples you taste, like how much leaf is used and water temperature. Sometimes samples use more leaf than is recommended or lots of sugar to make the sample taste better.

It really sucks getting stuck with 2 oz+ of tea you dislike. Though, in the event you are stuck with tea you don’t like, read onto # 3.

3. Participate in tea swaps

Tea communities, like Steepster, have members that trade or swap teas. Or if you are a member of any community, see if there are tea drinkers there and ask to swap.

Swapping teas helps clean out your “dislike” pile and you can hopefully score tea from tea sellers you want to try but aren’t ready to order from yet. Communicate well with your trading partner – how much teas you are swapping by weight/ teaspoons/whatever.

FYI, it seems customary to include a couple “bonus” samples when you swap teas with someone.
4. Wait for sales / promotions

Slightly dangerous (as it will tempt you more), but sign up for promotional emails and follow facebook/twitter pages of tea sellers you are interested in – that way, if there is a sale or promo code released you’ll know right away. This also gets you in the loop for seasonal/limited edition teas that are released. Most often, tea sellers do sales on holidays.

I also check what other tea people are buying on tea communities to see if there’s an influx of purchases due to a promo code – though be cautious, as seeing others buy so much tea will make you buy more too!

Also, check tea bloggers (/ oolong owl wave) for promo codes!

5. Split orders with  friends

Often tea is a deal or on sale if you buy in larger quantities. Or the tea seller is a PITA and sell teas in large sizes. Or maybe all the teas you want are out of your price range. Or if you could spend an extra $10, you’ll hit the free shipping threshold, but you don’t want to spend more money. Check to see if a friend or family member is interested in any of the teas and split the cost with them (and also ask to sample extra teas they get). Also, check tea communities if someone wants to split or swap items with your tea order.

6. Stalk loyalty programs

Lots of tea companies have “loyalty” programs – you get credit towards purchases or samples by visiting their site, retweeting or sharing products on facebook/google+, referring friends, purchases and reviews. They also sometimes give you extra credit for being a new customer.

The loyalty programs that let you do reviews are awesome – especially if you order samples, review it and cash in on points!

7. Seek out “first timer buyers” promotions

Along with the “loyalty programs” extra credit for new buyers, I’ve seen a number of tea companies have a “first timers” deal such as free shipping or a package of samples deal. Even better is sometimes with you first sampler package it comes with a coupon code which more or less made your sampler pack free!
8. Seek out free stuff – weekly drawings, contests and samples

First off – go through a tea sellers site or facebook/twitter. Sometimes they have free samples, weekly drawings or contests. Often, they send information about contests and drawings on tea communities and promotional emails. Sometimes new tea sellers will give out free samples for reviews or ask for people to “sample” a collection of their teas to figure what the public likes more.

Also, some bloggers do drawings or contests, so get involved with your tea community!

9. Sometimes tea sellers surprise you…

I’ve had some lovely surprises with mostly smaller online tea sellers. I’d do a small order and it would come with samples or promo codes for my next order. Awesome!

A couple times, I would fill my online cart but not go through with the sale. I’d get an unexpected email from the tea seller asking “Hey, I see stuff in your cart but you didn’t buy. Would free shipping sweeten the deal?”

10. Share your love for tea! 

Share the tea love! Give teas you love (or don’t like) to friends, family and coworkers. Fill out wish lists and share them on your facebook so people around you then know what to give you for birthdays or holidays.  I’ve left teas (that I didn’t like) at work for all my coworkers to have – and eventually others will leave teas for others to try.

With spreading the tea love you may score new tea friends, who you can split orders with and sample their tea collections!




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