Process Book: Mei Hua Tea

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project 2: packaging design

PROCESS FRONT BOOK COVER Miles “Bread” Lee Word & Image 1 February 2019

contents 3 7 12 18

research discovery refinement reflection

objective The project objective was to create a mock package design for a tea box. As a class, we were split into groups of tea types: medicinal, economic, luxury, energy, and international. Our designs needed to evoke qualities associated with the assigned tea type. Necessities Brand name, Type of tea, Directions for brewing, Supplemental facts, Quantity of bags, Barcode Color 2 hues of unlimited values. Black is considered a hue, but white is not. Type Family Choose 2 from: Baskerville, Garamond, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue, Futura, Univers, Franklin Gothic, Minion Pro, Didot, Trade Gothic, Bodoni, Benton, Aktiv Grotesk

research To research existing tea boxes, I visited three grocery stores: United Provisions, Paws & Go, and Aldi. These stores offered a variety of teas such as luxury, international, and economical. I took note of what I liked and didn’t like about the tea boxes I found. I was mostly drawn to boxes with designs that wrapped around the edges of the box in some way. In addition, I investigated yogurt and wine bottle packaging, which I found to be more illustrative and cohesive than tea box packaging.

Tea boxes, tea tins, and wine bottles at United Provisions


After collecting preliminary research, the class was split into groups of teas: medicinal, international, energy, and economical. I was assigned to the international tea group. We brainstormed what distinctions separated international teas from other teas in terms of instructions, supplemental facts, warning labels, and quantity of tea bags. In order to gain a better understanding of how international teas are packaged and branded, I then narrowed my research to international teas, largely East Asian, since those are the teas I am most familiar with. I decided I wanted to create a box with its information in both English and Chinese.


International Tea brainstorming sheet

Explorations and word maps

When deciding my brand name, I explored several different options such as Hua Long, Ibis, and Mei Hua. I eventually decided on the name “Mei Hua,” or 梅花 (plum blossom), the name of a Chinese Supermarket that closed down when I was little. Plums and plum blossoms are celebrated in China, Japan, and Korea. I also chose to design a box of Chrysanthemum tea, which is an herbal tea used for medicinal uses in China.


discovery After researching tea boxes and choosing a brand name and tea type, I moved on to exploring different ways to design my own tea box. I used collaged elements from magazines as well as hand-drawn elements to get a sense of how I wanted to design my box. I paid special attention to edge relationships—how design elements traveled across different sides of the box. I was most interested in creating diagonal shapes across the box, like in the bottom left image. While I explored other colors, I felt that using floral imagery with warmer browns, yellows, oranges, and reds would be the most successful in marketing chrysanthemum tea, which is made of dried yellow chrysanthemum flowers.

Collages using magazines and a Chinese newsletter


After creating collages, I sketched out various layouts which incorporated diagonals and the grid. I also considered possible directions for the floral imagery. I later turned the cluster of chrysanthemum flowers I drew, pictured in the bottom right, into a pattern. I ended up not using the pattern, but it helped me further develop the imagery and visual language of my box.

Low fidelity thumbnails of possible box designs


Grayscale iterations


In my grayscale iterations, I used the aforementioned pattern and a photograph of chrysanthemum tea flowers from one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Woks of Life. While these images were worth considering, I decided not to use either of them because the photo’s resolution wasn’t high enough, and my pattern was difficult to incorporate. I noticed the diagonal shapes didn’t feel dynamic enough because I made them symmetrical. I continued to explore different diagonal shapes for my full-color iterations.

Constructed grayscale boxes


refinement In their critique of my early black and white iterations, my classmates enjoyed the diagonals present on the sides of my box but were concerned with the images I had chosen. I decided to search for new images that retained floral qualities but followed a different visual language. We were also faced with the task of choosing a maximum of 2 type families out of a provided list. I tested out the different type families but eventually settled on using Futura and Benton Modern. For the Chinese text, I used an online font, Droid Sans Fallback, to replace system fonts which lacked many of the characters I needed.

For my full-color boxes, I searched for chrysanthemum patterns for new imagery and settled on a royalty-free image from VectorStock, which I then edited. In terms of color schemes, I chose to explore orange-yellow and blueyellow. On the front-facing panels, I received feedback that “yellow chrysanthemum tea� was hard to read against the pattern. I later framed it in a rectangle similar to the logo, and changed the typeface from Bodoni to Benton Modern. I explored various options for diagonal shapes, focusing on how the box’s top and bottom ends related to its sides.

Front-facing panel


Color swatches and logo

Full-color iterations and constructed boxes


Tea sachet and tea tag iterations


I received feedback from professors that the orangeyellow color scheme worked best due to the nature of chrysanthemum tea. One professor was also concerned that the logo didn’t stand out enough, leading me to change the logo’s square from a light to a dark orange. Meanwhile, I created iterations of my tea sachet and tea tag. My main goal was to match the visual language of the sachet with the box. I originally rotated the text of the tea sachet, but after constructing it, I realized that upright text would work better with the mechanics of the tea sachet.

Final tea sachet and tag with bag


Though I explored different color variations throughout the process, I conversed with an instructor and eventually decided that mediumorange sides and the dark-orange logo helped the box gain a presence.

Final tea box construction with tea sachet, tea bag, and tea tag


reflection Upon receiving the prompt, I was excited to explore packaging design for the first time, especially for a tea box, because even though I don’t drink much tea I’ve accumulated a decent amount of knowledge about it over the years. I am glad I was placed in the international teas group because I think it offered me the most freedom to explore types of tea, branding, and aesthetic qualities. Constructing the tea boxes along the way allowed me to better visualize what I was creating on screen. One piece of feedback I received during Critique was that I could explore a dark purple for the logo square to emphasize the brand name more.


Miles “Bread” Lee Project 2: Packaging Design Word and Image 1, Spring 2019 Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts

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