Assuring Your Party Is “Set to a Tea”

NOTE: Recently, my buddy Little Yellow Teapot received some teas to review from “Set to a Tea” Consultant Carrie-Ann Brady in Florida (Little Yellow Teapot got to “pose”, courtesy of PhotoShop, on the table beside her). I thought a look at the company was in order, so I did, and here it is.

Ever want to throw a tea party for your friends but felt daunted by the task? Never fear. The “Set to a Tea” company has been making teatime easier and more fun for over 13 years.
Think about it. What does it take to put together a fun teatime for your family and friends? You need to:
  • Select a location (usually at your home, either indoors or on your patio/deck)
  • Select a teatime theme (depends on the time of year and if a special event such as an anniversary or birthday is involved)
  • Invite your guests
  • Select and prepare a tea appropriate for your theme
  • Select and prepare teatime treats (if you’re like me, you head to the store at this point to see what’s available)
  • Set up the tea table with tablecloth, napkins, teacups and saucers, plates, and decorations
  • Enjoy the party (if you have any strength left, that is)

A “Set to a Tea” Consultant can do most of this for you. In exchange, the consultant promotes the “Set to a Tea” business to your guests and you get credit towards purchasing the company’s products yourself.

The company operates similarly to other direct selling companies like Mary Kay Cosmetics. You and your guests end up being an “audience” to their sales pitch. With “Set to a Tea,” the event is more of a party atmosphere than it is with some others, though. On the plus side, you get someone knowledgeable about tea (or at least somewhat knowledgeable) to help you with the “heavy lifting” of the tea party. On the minus side, to take advantage of “credits” you receive for having the party in your home, you must purchase their products. Of course, if you like their products, this isn’t really a minus. Having reviewed their catalog, I can say they have some attractive items.

In an interview with Gail of The Tea House Times (that reads more like a press release than an interview), company founder Kathleen Rogers stated:

Our signature product line is a fabulous blend of tea and teaware. First, we offer whole leaf gourmet teas as well as unique items to prepare the tea. We design and produce our own line of tea cozies, table cloths and napkins. Coordinating tea pots, tea cups and serving pieces make it easy for our customers to set a beautiful table. Pantry goodies help our customers serve treats as well as tea. Finally, we have selected wonderful gift items for our tea lovers.

The focus is on maxing out the “cute factor” in your teatime. They cover even the smallest details, from invitations, teawares, teas, and treats, to candles, heart-shaped sugar cubes, and hostess aprons.

As a tea drinker, I am happy to see that their teas are not confined to teadust in a bag. They are loose leaf teas (and herbals) in nylon sachets (like such well-known brands as Mighty Leaf). Unfortunately, most of the teas have lots of other items and flavorings added. These tend not to produce a good second steeping, should you wish to do one. Their selection is also quite limited and includes some non-teas (Rooibos and herbals) in among the true teas (those made from the Camellia Sinensis plant).

Generally, I’ve found their prices to be higher than other sources, especially on such basic things as Bombay teapots (sold elsewhere under the name “Amsterdam teapots”), tartlet shells, and cookie cutters.

Ms. Rogers comes across in all of the items I found online as first and foremost a marketer and distantly second being a tea promoter. She also never conveys any personality in the interviews. You have to wonder if she is all that interested in tea. Compare this to serious tea sellers, like Adagio, TeaGschwendner, and The English Tea Store. They have much broader offerings of teas, herbals, and infusions (such as Rooibos and Honeybush). These companies also offer teawares, but ones that are more focused on helping you steep up the best batch of tea possible, not just put on a good show (although many of their teawares are also attractive).
Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m going to a friend’s house for tea, I don’t want a company pitching their wares to me. However, there are plenty of you out there who enjoy such events and see them as fun and social despite the push to get you to buy things. In that case, contact a “Set to a Tea” Consultant in your area to help you host a tea party. Better yet, you might consider becoming a consultant yourself. Carrie-Ann Brady seems really happy being one (or is it that little yellow teapot making her smile?).

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