Premium tea products are often beautifully packaged to attract the consumer’s eye and somehow justify the high price demanded, but it is all too common for said upmarket packaging to serve no real purpose beyond containing the tea. So it is refreshing to discover The Hillcart Tales range of teas from India, where one part of the pack converts to a set of coasters and another can be upcycled as a storage container or decorative item.

Each muslin teabag (there are seven in the pack) is contained in a mini-carton, formed from a circular piece of board that is creased and folded into a hexagonal shape with a flower-like spiral push-in closure. The cartons are individually wrapped in six-sided metalised film sachets and placed in a board tray that is then inserted into a hexagonal outer carton, also with spiral push-in closures.

Sketches on the outer carton suggest that it could be repurposed as a pencil pot, money box, light shade, or jewellery box, while the teabag cartons can be opened out flat to form useful coasters for a cup or mug. They are printed on both sides with the same watercolour imagery as other elements of the pack, and each coaster carries an inspirational message in the form of a quotation from a notable historical figure. The mini-cartons can also be used for the clean and hygienic disposal of the used tea bags.

The hexagonal outer carton is rather distinctive in the Indian tea category and conveys a premium image that is enhanced by the attractive 360-degree watercolour design with silver foil blocked and embossed branding detail. The hexagonal theme is carried across all elements of the pack and gives the impression of a very well-coordinated presentation that generates a feeling of specialness. Packaging is often reused or repurposed in India and presenting what, on the face of it, looks like over-packaging as something that can have a useful and stylish afterlife adds value for the consumer and gives food for thought in today’s world, where packaging is increasingly becoming demonised.

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