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A cup of our Alphabettea and some crumpets, please!

Disclaimer: The application/product so developed is solely for the purpose of reasonable trial/experimental purpose only.

Design Services Bizongo has been providing quality packaging solutions to the B2B industry in India for a couple of years now. While we continue to improve our product, we also realised that we needed to bring in more innovation into the existing market. Starting December, we began to work on packaging innovations, coming up with product prototypes that are ready for the market, as well as coming up with quirky packaging solutions that one could indulge in or admire.

When it comes to quirky packaging innovations, we have been like watchful hounds letting our eyes glide across every new design, noting its patterns and curves, gawking at it and/or bashing it. So, when the tables turned and we had to come up with a packaging-design-innovation-a-week, we broke into a sweat. Were we now going to be under the scanner? Terrifying! To calm our senses as well as begin somewhere, we settled on tea. And for an auspicious start, we decided to merge together the concept of tea with the alphabets. After all, isn't that the first thing we all learn in our lives - A for apple. B for bat?

Design Thinking and Research

As designers, we simply couldn't stop with merging tea and alphabets. We needed something more in purpose. That was when we stumbled upon many collector's editions of teas - teas in gorgeous boxes as delicious as the brew promised within, teas picked from unmapped corners, in strange tastes and with stranger names, teas that infused dramatic flavours and married them potently, and many many more. We realised that collectors' items brought more value to the tea than limiting itself to the concoction inside. There was now an oomph factor that drew someone to it, expanding the target group. That was when we decided that we'd present our A-Z of brews in matchboxes. World over, phillumeny, or phillumenism (the hobby of collecting different match-related items: matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, match covers, match safes, etc) is a well-loved hobby. The brand centric advertising that goes on the outer label of the matchbox has fascinated phillumenists. Records show that from flowers to political campaigns, public-health initiatives to sporting events - every topic conceivable has been printed on matchbox labels over time.

Innovative tea packaging

So, why could we not represent tea in a matchbox? The small shape lent itself to enclosing the flavours safely within its folds, the design on the covers could make an excellent tea-table conversation and the array of flavours will always lend a surprise element to your palate. Digging through tea stories, getting distracted with the history of tea bricks and reading about the different ways people consume tea the world over, we came to a final tally of 26 different flavours of tea. From bizarre ones like X tea (always surprises you with the flavour it holds. Every pack has a new one!) and usual suspects like 'C for Chamomile Tea' to interesting ones like W for White Monkey tea (named so because the tea leaves resemble the white paw of the monkey), we relished creating the list and discovering the dimensions of our everyday drink.

Creating Alphabettea : The Final Product          

Working on the inherent geometrical quality of each tea and combining it with the luxuriousness and opulence of Art Deco themes, we created designs for four different alphabets – K, M, S and U. Why this leaning towards these particular letters? They offered the most scope for us to play with both in terms of the tea they contained and in the construction of the form of the letters.

The four flavours

M for Matcha Tea With the goodness of matcha tea, detox your body, get a boost of energy, replenish essential catechins, burn some extra calories and bring back your body's balanceSo, Matcha, the Japanese tea was designed to look calming and soothing, poised in its symmetry.

U for UNtea Loosening up the idea of a tea, UNtea infuses a dramatic flavor of coffee into your brew. Who said the best two beverages of the world cannot combine?!Untea emerged from two contrasting ideas merging together; where simple elements – or in this case tastes at war – coexisting.

K for Keemun Tea Rich in taste, the Keemun brings together the aroma of orchids with hints of dark chocolate in taste. The treatment of the Keemun packaging derives from its orchid fragrance and dark chocolate infusions, lending naturally to patterns laid out with sophistication. Luxury at its best!

S for Spiced Tea A sliver of cardamom, a shaving of cinnamon, some dust of star anise, a dash of nutmeg and ground ginger, together combine to give you the perfect spiced tea. Best for mornings and lazy sleepy noons to give you a healthy kickoff. Since five spices combine in the Spiced tea, we brought in a 5 pointed star blending into the heart of the tea.

Innovative tea packaging
Since five spices combine in the Spiced tea, we brought in a 5 pointed star blending into the heart of the tea.

The overall packaging is a simple box with slots for each of the alphabet matchboxes, giving the buyer a delightful overview of their collection, even after the tea has been consumed. And that is how we created Alphabettea, a collector's edition of 26 handpicked teas from around the world, packaged in delightfully designed matchboxes. Perfect as a present, this tea collection is full of surprises, combining exotic flavors to restore your body's well being. The box promises not just a memorable teatime, but also some wonderful discussions on the quirky matchboxes that have been specially designed to represent a tea for every letter of the English alphabet. Served best with cookies and conversations.

Line diagram of the set of 26 teas in a box along with accessories for gifting

Design by Soniya Bhase; Text by Sandhya Ramachandran

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