Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Freebie Tip: My Inner Diva Sips Free Tea at the Mall

Teavana, a national chain that sells tea, is a great place to go for free samples of hot tea and iced tea. You're encouraged to try small cups of brewed teas with exotic names like Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls and Rooibos Tropica.

How do I know this? A few weeks ago, I followed my daughter, age 10, into Teavana while we were in the Aventura Mall to see the Hannah Montana 3-D concert movie. While we were at the mall, my daughter kept raving about the free tea at Teavana. I was clueless. I limit the spending power of my Inner Diva, by avoiding malls, which give me headaches anyway. My children, however, are regular free-tea sippers when they visit the mall. They drink and drink the free tea.

Once I found the shop -- which smells great and has a blissed-out Zen energy -- there were several canteens filled with delicious, lightly sweetened samples of hot and warm tea. What's more, the staff was friendly and encouraged us to sample more. (They could feel the spending vibe emanating from my Inner Diva.) Lingering is encouraged. We really liked the Blueberry Bliss tea, which was served cold. We drank a lot of free tea.

Of course, I purchased a few ounces of loose teas in two different flavors for a total of $17 (not cheap). The two flavors were brewed together as one of the featured samples. We purchased 2 oz of Rooibos Tropica for $4.80 (excellent frugal choice) and the Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls (2 oz for $12), not a thrifty choice.
At first, I winced at the resurgence of my Diva spending self. This is why they give you the free tea, I whisper shouted to myself, so that you'll be foolish enough to buy a lot of pricey tea. As the saleswoman packaged my loose tea in pretty foil bags, I wondered about the wisdom of even going into Teavana in the first place.
But when I got home, I compared prices. Our favorite herbal tea is about $3.50 for a box of 20 teabags that weighs less than one ounce (total), including the cardboard. A comparable amount of the pre-pacakged tea would have cost about $7, versus the $4.80 that I paid for the Rooibos Tropic, which was fresher. And even when my favorite grocery store brand is on sale, the Teavana Rooibos is a better deal and tastes fresher. I've compared the two in an informal taste test.
The Jasmine tea was yummy, but a little rich for my budget. In hindsight, I should have saved my $12. My kids love the Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls, (little balls unfold like baby dragons in hot water), but I'm a little annoyed that I busted my budget to buy that tea. Maybe it was just good Karma to buy it because my kids have consumed and will consume gallons of free tea at Teavana. I don't think the company had my tea-loving children in mind when they offered unlimited samples of free tea.
Besides, having the tea around the house during the last few weeks has helped me to sustain the frugal push to limit soft drink purchases. The kids are drinking more teas, which are pennies per serving. And packed with fresh minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants many of the teas are healthy. What's more, due to the bright natural flavor, the teas taste great without sugar or honey.
Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in June of 2008 by DPL Press.


LongBeachBabe said...

My husband and I have spent way too much in this store as well. We were shocked how quickly two small containers of tea added up. My husband likes to tell the story about how he was a fool and got suckered into spending fifty-bucks on tea at this place.

LaTejanaFria said...

Allow me to make you feel better about that purchase. Ounce for ounce, loose tea is a better buy. Many store bought, bagged tea can be used only once.

Loose tea on the other hand can be steeped multiple times, with the character of the tea changing with each steeping. Make certain you get the most out of each use:

SFGal said...

I love tea. I spent too much on it last month. But when I walked past Teavana at the mall next to my apartment, they were all out of free samples. Or at least the ones on the outside of the store were all out. I dare not go inside, for I would have spent a billion dollars.

Fong said...

I tried this same blend at Teavana on one of my rare trips to the mall and was so tempted to purchase! I considered getting just the Rooibos half of the blend, but in the end decided not to buy. Have you tried the Rooibos Tropica brewed with a less expensive alternative to the Dragon Pearls? I'd love to know if you found a more budget-friendly substitute!

Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances said...

I love tea. I have a pot beside me in a tetsubin right now. I fill it with a small scoop of loose green tea and drink it in the morning, then refill it with warm water throughout the day. The effect is that I get a little caffeine in the morning, but less and less throughout the day. It has also gotten me accustomed to drinking room temperature tap water (which is pretty much what it is by the evening).

I used to drink sodas, but I can't remember the last time I had one. It's just tea and water for me. And by the looks of it, it'll still take me a while to finish off my container of loose tea that I got through Amazon.

Another great thing... I can add the tea leaves to my compost pile : D