Saturday, January 3, 2009

Under $10 indulgence #1 - Mighty Leaf Tea

Little gifts to me are a big part of how I brought my spending under control. When I first moved to New York, I was dropping plastic cards down on high end designer shoes and purses. I ate out every night and drank expensive drinks..and cheap drinks...well...I mean, I drank like a graduate student. I drank a lot. Every little bit of it went on a credit card.

My income, however, had dropped to lower than a 1/3 of what it had been the year before when I was viably employed. When you earn less than $15K a year, Chanel shoes and regular drinks and dinner at Pravda should be well out of your reach. They, of course, were well out of my reach. I spend this way because I felt inadequate. Around then of my second year in New York I realized what a mess I had had made and decided to get myself out of it.

I had about $20K in credit card debt, a failing marriage and a bit of no-starter degree. The very first thing I did was set about earning some extra cash. I took a term off of my degree to earn some extra cash and managed to clear 1/2 the debt. I divorced my husband - a man who made me unhappy and who had very, very unhealthy spending habits. When I returned to school 5 months later, I started a savings account and developed a plan to clear the rest of the debt on my lower graduate income. I took up extra teaching positions, a college assistant position and I worked out a debt repayment record and plan for myself. The divorce, the debt repayment all made me feel better about myself. So as to not feel deprived, I changed the meanings of the words "splurge" and "deserve". A "splurge" became an item I could afford within my actually income, but the cost of which would not help me noticeably reduce my debt. "Deserve" came to mean items that would not interfere with my debt reduction or savings.

I worked out that I could afford a $10 item every month or so that would be just for me and would make me feel special. At times this item has been an extra $10 so I could get a fancy shampoo. Other times, it has been a movie I really wanted to see. Most of the time I bank it to buy higher priced items like clothing. This month, it is Mighty Leaf Tea.

I love tea. My firm belief that a warm drink = warm thoughts has recently be substantiated by a study published in Science . Mighty Leaf Tea Company is a Californian company that produces whole leaf teas wrapped in silken tea bags. Now, I'm not sure if "silken" means "silk", but the company assures the buyer that the pouches are biodegradable. Sadly, the cellophane packges that the bags are placed in do not degrade. A supercool feature of the company's site is character, origin and health benefit information for each tea as well as customer ratings and comments. Honestly, I find the customer ratings more helpful than the company's own description of the tea flavour.

My personal fave Mighty Leaf tea is Orange Dulce, which sells in NYC for about $7.50 for 15 bags (currently $6.96 online). It is a blend of black and green tea leaves with jasmine flowers, vanilla and orange flavours. It is smooth tasting - like chamomile, with hints of wood and citrus. The company claims it tastes a bit like port. I drink port on an almost weekly basis and I don't taste port-like flavours in this tea at all. Still, it is an amazing cuppa.

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