Dissolving Tea Spheres Revive a Tired Category
By Rob Croft
Starch-based tea spheres are a new approach that might revolutionize a tired category and excite consumers to try something new. The idea of a readily available, edible bio-plastic that dissolves in water offers immediate appeal—with futuristic and organic connotations.
A new product genre like this deserves an equally revolutionary package to showcase its point of difference. There is a great opportunity to visually communicate the optical qualities of the liquid or gel in the tea spheres.
The structural package (depicted in the illustration) uses a combination of injection-molded opaque polypropylene and a vacuum-formed transparent PET sheet to create a breakthrough aesthetic for green tea beads.
The porthole-shaped chambers are inspired by the simple, clean lines of Bauhaus-style architecture. Each bead is protected and displayed in its own environment—allowing light to pass through the package and the green tea essence inside. The visual effect is similar to stained glass.
The consumer opens the package like a book and uses the “bead-wand” to select one of the tea beads. A rubber sucker on the end of the wand picks up the bead and the user conveys it to a cup of hot water. The wand also serves as a means of agitating the beverage—after which it can be returned to the storage clip on the side of the package.
In this design, the packaging structure and its optical effects are the hero, working like a piece of food art. Packaging graphics are floated over the design using a transparent band that is lightly shrunk into place.
The design offers a glimpse of what lies beyond traditional packaging genres, something that can be only reached by addressing package design with fresh, industrial design intellect.  
Confucius says: designer who thinks beyond the bottle, box and bag will gain rewards in this life and the next! BP
The author, Robert Croft, is Managing Partner of Swerve Inc., specialists in 3-D brand design. Contact him at 212.742.9560 or rob@swerveinc.com.