on January 11, 2013
I had been doing the proverbial (sounds better than cliche) "surfing" of the net looking for a quality tea assortment for someone incredibly dear to me. Let me first disclose, however, that I am a male, and typically my decisions - unless there is a degree of planning and research - are hasty and off the mark by the time they get to their target. I guess being a poor mind reader is part of being male, but then there are so many folks who have taken the time to write excellent reviews about the product online that there is really no way I can go wrong in the end.
This thing is a better price than many of the other branded Tea products out there, and I don't know much about Wissotzky (in fact I did not know they were in Israeli brand as I was gifting it to someone who was a child of the Persian Revolution of the Carter era).
All I know is that I purchased a gift that comes with ninety different tea bags for a price that's much better than many of the other tea dealer-type retail stores that seem to put more into fritzy marketing and high-rent retail locations to build a brand than this company. I have a discriminating taste when it comes to other drinks - typically beers and wines - but tea is not my strong point. That said the recipient of my gift in fact claimed this was much more tasty and the box is fantastically arranged and well thought out. It may be some sort of stained softwood (maybe something else other than mahogany - but it did have a nice stain to it), because the JANKA rating of mahogany, proper, would not dent or ding (only one, Amazon) in shipment.
The main things that separate this product from the others are, as I see it, as follows:
1) The tea is from Isreal. That means a religious leader had to bless this for coming from a clean place that adheres to standards of quality and cleanliness that not every manufacturer does. It's like these Rabbis naming this stuff Kashrut are our food-chain-of-custody experts that ensure consumable goods meet Kosher standards. That says something! Seriously, all Kosher, very important as I see it.
2) The company's been in business for like 150 years plus. Tea brokers come and go. Tea retailers come and go. Then there are folks like Wissotzky here who stay in the biz and sort and cull and provide some quality teas to folks who can appreciate them around the world. Yeah, we got Lipton and stuff, and they've been around. But they're probably owned by Nestle now. Go team Wissotzky!
2) The case is nice and makes a great gift box as well as a photo stuffing box that looks pretty. Having been a wood buyer earlier in my career I was very confident that while what I received was nicely done, wrapped, and pretty, this wasn't that hard mahogany you get in a door or anything like that. The JANKA rating was certainly close to something like North American softwood. BUT THE TEA is what this about, and not some silly case.
3) Few manufacturers deliver both "pretty" and "tasty" in one product. Usually the prettiest box of whatever you're getting has the most horrid tasting product inside. So pretty box means making up for something inside that doesn't taste so pretty (my opinion). Just stop and think about the ground and hammered potato chips we buy in cans. Cool cans! Not so cool product. And here's another, "Cool car; not so cool a guy." But here we have a product that is really not overcompensating for itself by putting a product in a nice box and selling it. Hell, every other tea company is, so finally a quality tea company has, out of necessity to follow suit. GREAT PRESENTATION, GREAT TEA (according tor resident tea expert), and GREAT VALUE AND QUALITY.
4) Most importantly the aesthetics and the fact that this was really good tea enabled me to endear myself closer to this person in my life who absolutely adores tea. It showed that I was a thoughtful fellow who bought this lady something I don't like that much, but she does. And it came in that fancy box which in this case really set me apart from my normal mode of delivering such grocery items - it funky little boxes that have the best price and usually a banged up box.
Great job Wissotzky - seriously a great product, and I'm not knockin' you guys on the wood, because I'm not a scientist or a wood expert or any such person, and after all you guys do tea, your customers drink tea, and hopefully when this American fad of teashops slows down and the angel investors take their money out of these funky little retail stores gone crazy, we'll get back to what quality tea is and not the "clothing" it has to wear to sell itself.
on January 3, 2013
I recently purchased a Wissotzky Green Tea Chest and have been mightily impressed with this tasteful collection of Green Tea's that is sure to please the tea-lover in your family. This review will focus on Style/Packaging, Tea Selection and Flavor, Ordering/Fulfillment Process, and Value.
- STYLE / PACKAGING (5/5): The Wissotzky Green Tea Chest arrives wrapped in thin-clear film and is suitably protected with bubblewrap / foam pellets within its larger shipping box. The 'chest' itself is approximately 13" x 10" x 3", made of a light-weight wood and is tinted a leaf-green color. The top/cover panel of the tea chest is tastefully printed with 'Green Tea' lettering in large black decorative script, with a smaller red colored Wissotzky logo as well, while the bottom panel has a descriptive sticker detailing the ingredients, contents and nutritional information. The chest is held closed by a silver metal 'flip-down' clasp which appears to be of good quality, maintaining secure closure of the contents. While initially concerned that the green color of the box might be a bit garish (ala a loud lime green), I was pleasantly surprised to find a more subdued shade that would not look out of place on a dark / mohoganied kitchen counter or drawer. The green tint is also sufficiently light enough to ensure the wood grain on the chest is visible.
- TEA SELECTION / FLAVOR (5/5): The Green Tea Chest contains an 80-count of teabags wrapped in individual paper wrappers, color coded and with a short description on each item. There are a total of 6 different flavors to include - 20 Green Teas with Verbana & Lemongrass (Lemon Flavor), 20 Green Teas with Spearmint Leaves / Oil (Spearmint Flavor), 10 Green Teas with Jasmine (Jasmine Flower Flavor), 10 Green Teas with Citrus (Orange Peels, Lemon and Citrous Flavor), 10 Green Teas with Ginger and Lemongrass (Ginger Root, Lemongrass, Lemon Peels Flavor), and 10 Green Teas with Wildberries and Passionfruit (Hibiscus Flower, Rosehip, Salka, Blueberries, Black Currant, Rasberry, Strawberry, Woodberry and Passionfruit flavor). Most everyone will have a favorite flavor they wish they had more of, so I do not dock any points for wishing for an extra 10 of the 'Wildberries and Passionfruit' flavor, instead of the 20 included 'Spearmint' flavor, but this is just a personal perference. Depending on the flavor you choose to indulge in, once steeped in boiling water, the tea bags immediately turn your cup either a light lemon-green color (for the Citrous, Lemongrass flavors) or a light mossy green-brown tint (for the Wildberry, Ginger/Lemongrass and Spearmint flavors). Regular Green Tea drinkers might notice that the color achieved is not the brilliant green as some other green tea brands, and it is unclear to me (without additional research) whether this is due to the type of tea leaves used, or due to the addition of the various flower/fruit ingredients as part of each flavor profile. Nevertheless, what does stand out immediately is the delightfully delicate aroma that fills the immediate space - it is evident just by scent alone which of these aromatic flavors you have chosen for the day, and you will delight in selecting your daily brew. Purists will enjoy these teas as is, and no sweeteners are necessary.
- ORDERING / FULFILLMENT (4/5): Overall, I was impressed with the efficacy and professionalism of the ordering process and the Wissotzky Tea Company in particular, but this does come with a caveat. Having ordered the item (from Amazon) in time for the holidays, you will imagine my horror upon opening the package (which arrived as expected within 5 business days) to find an entirely different Wissotzky tea chest from the one ordered. I am not going to try to assign blame to either Amazon or Wissotzky for the fulfillment screw-up, but upon placing a call to Wissotzky Tea headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, the reaction was courteous, professional and importantly, immediate. I received a call from Wissotzky's US location within the hour to confirm that the correct item was being shipped to me, expedited. Mistakes will happen, and while I had to wait an extra 2 days to receive the correct item, the immediacy of the response ensured I received the product in time for the holidays and that was well appreciated.
- VALUE (4/5): This was one area where I felt Wissotzky Tea could improve so as to become an automatic choice. At $40 for an 80 teabag-count case, the unit cost works out to $0.50/teabag. I compared this to a number of other green tea brands including Kirkland Signature (Costco Brand) Ito En Matcha Green Tea ($0.21/teabag), and The Stash Company's Premium Green Tea ($0.13/teabag) on the lower end of the price scale to the Bentley Assorted Tea Chest ($0.39/teabag), Bigelow Tea Chest ($0.80/teabag), and Tea Forte Tea Chest ($1.10/teabag) on the higher end, and the Wissotzky line runs right around the mid-range of the available options.
In conclusion, having compared options from a number of different companies I selected the Wissotzky Green Tea Chest for having a fine collection of all Green Teas, in a handsome chest, at a decent price. Some might argue that the Bigelow and Bentley Tea Chests/boxes have a higher quality wood/finish (which is true, but they also do not have an all Green Tea offering), or that Stash Premium Green Teas come at a much lower unit cost. Ultimately, everyone will need to decide which features are most important to them - tea flavors, unit cost, tea-types (green/black/assortments), plain box packaging vs keepsake/gift chests etc. I for one am extremely satisfied with this purchase, and am enjoying this delectable collection of fine Green Teas. Highly Recommended A++.