Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Haul Flatlay
Review Unboxing

The Wordy Traveler Subscription Box | Winter 2019 | Unboxing & Honest Review

This is a review and unboxing of the Winter 2019 China edition of the Full Suitcase subscription from The Wordy Traveler.

The Wordy Traveler is a luxury quarterly reading subscription for people who want to combine their love for reading with their appetite for travel. Billing itself as “Wanderlust Fulfilled,” The Wordy Traveler curates boxes around a regional theme and pairs them with local, ethically sourced teas.

The subscription is available in two versions, the Backpacking Edition and The Full Suitcase. The two versions share a theme and the same core items, so this unboxing and review will cover both versions of the box.

Please visit our Affiliate Disclosure page for important information about affiliate links, free samples, and site commissions.

The Haul

The Winter 2019 edition of The Wordy Traveler subscription contained 1 art print, 1 bag of loose-leaf tea, and two bonus decorative items, as well as either 1 book (Backpacking Edition) or 3 books and a set of teacups (The Full Suitcase).

The theme for the Winter 2019 shipment from The Wordy Traveler was China, so all of the books and items in the box related to travels in China, Chinese history and society, etc.

Without further ado, here are the items that I received in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box:

Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Books in a Rc

Books
  • Peter Hessler, Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip
  • FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Paul Theroux, Riding The Iron Rooster: By Train Through China
  • FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Jung Chang, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Gifts and Tea
Tea & Gifts
  • Ohio Tea Company, Ying Ming Looseleaf Tea from Yunnan in China (2 oz)
  • Matted Art Print of the Great Wall of China
  • Red Tassel & Coin Pouch
  • FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Set of 4 Chinese Teacups

Peter Hessler, Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip

The first book in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip, by Peter Kessler.

About

This book is the third in Peter Kessler’s trilogy on China. It takes you on a journey through China’s rapid development, through the lens of the automobile and the paving of roads to new factory towns and previously untouched regions of the Chinese frontier.

The book was named one of The Economist’s Best Books of the Year. The first book in the trilogy was named a New York Times Notable Book and won the Kiriyama Book Prize, and the second was a finalist for the National Book Award.

My Thoughts

First of all, I have to say that I am delighted that my first box focuses on China. As someone who lives in Japan and specializes in Asia, it is embarrassing how thin my China book collection is, and there is a vast amount of information to discover.

And this book in particular looks like an absolutely fascinating glimpse into the crazed and haphazard development of modern China. It’s exactly my kind of read: personal, in-depth journalistic travel writing with an academic feel. I am excited to curl up with a cup of tea and dig in.

Retail Value

The MSRP of this book is $15.99.

Stock Up

If you missed this box or didn’t receive this book in your box, you can get it from Amazon.

And if you want to read the first two books in this trilogy, you can also grab those:

FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Paul Theroux, Riding The Iron Rooster: By Train Through China

The second book in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was Riding The Iron Rooster: By Train Through China, by Paul Theroux.

About

This book is a bit older, written about 30 years ago to document acclaimed travel writer Paul Theroux’s one-year trek throughout the starkly different regions of China: Tibet, Shanghai, Beijing, Manchuria, and more.

My Thoughts

This book is a wonderful complement to Country Driving, as it takes us on a similar journey that took place just 30 years prior, but in a country that was enormously different than the China we know today. I think I’ll tackle it after Country Driving, to take myself back to the China I learned about in grade school.

Retail Value

The MSRP of this book is $16.95.

Stock Up

If you missed this box or didn’t receive this book in your box, you can get it from Amazon.

FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Jung Chang, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

The third and final book in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, by Jung Chang.

About

This biography casts a new light on the shadow reign of Empress Dowager Cixi in mid-nineteenth century China. Jung Chang, the author of classic biographies Wild Swans and Mao, exposes Cixi’s role in creating modern China and empowering and liberating Chinese women.

My Thoughts

I absolutely adore Jung Chang’s work. In fact, her Wild Swans is one of my favorite books of all time. So this selection feels like it was made just for me! I am a fan of biographies, particularly those that tell old stories from a new, female perspective, and most especially those that turn “common knowledge” on its head. Chang’s books are massive tomes, but they read so well that you barely even notice the length.

I also appreciate that the three books cover a broad swatch of modern China’s history and society, rather than a purely contemporary perspective. It’s almost like a college reading list from a seminar on the transformation of China. A delight for nerds like me!

Retail Value

The MSRP of this book is $17.95.

Stock Up

If you missed this box or didn’t receive this book in your box, you can get it from Amazon.

And if you want to check out Jung Chang’s other best-selling biographies on China, you can also grab them from Amazon:

Ohio Tea Company, Ying Ming Looseleaf Tea from Yunnan in China (2 oz)

The next item in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was a packet of loose-leaf tea from the Ohio Tea Company in “Ying Ming.”

2 oz Package of Ohio Tea Company Ying Ming Black Tea from Yunnan, China

About

This tea is a full-bodied FTOP (finest tippy orange pekoe) black tea from Yunnan, China. This means that it is a whole leaf tea of extremely high quality, fitting for a luxury subscription box.

My Thoughts

I love adding new teas to my stash, and you can’t go wrong with high-quality black tea. The aroma is very rich and fragrant, and I am excited to brew a cup for myself.

The leaf tips are golden, which is further proof that this tea is of very high quality.

Ingredients

Allergic readers should note that there is no ingredient list on this tea. Chances are that it’s pure black tea, because it doesn’t claim to be a blend, but if your allergy is severe, it would be best to contact the Ohio Tea Company to be sure.

Retail Value

We estimate the retail value of this tea to be about $11.50.

Stock Up

This tea does not appear to be available any longer. However, if you missed the Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box or you want to get some more of this tea for yourself, you can pick up one of these similar teas directly from the Ohio Tea Company. The Ying Ming tea looks to be somewhat in the middle of these two, in terms of grade:

Matted Art Print of the Great Wall of China

The next item in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was a matted photograph of the Great Wall of China.

Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Great Wall of China Print

My Thoughts

This photograph has been retouched to add some beautiful, mood-setting yellow, so that it almost looks like a painting at first glance. Its a bit small, but it would make a nice accent piece for a wall that is looking a little bare.

Retail Value

We estimate the retail value of this print to be about $10.

Stock Up

The Wordy Traveler did not disclose the artist or source for this print. The only way to get items like this in the future is to sign up for your own subscription.

Red Tassel & Coin Pouch

The next item in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was a bonus gift consisting of a red tassel and a red pouch with a Chinese coin inside.

Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Tassel and Pouch

About

This symmetrical tassel features a traditional Chinese decorative knot and symbolizes happiness, health, wealth, and good fortune. It can be used as a decoration during Spring Festival, and you can also hang them in your car for good luck.

My Thoughts

I am not sure if these items are more specifically related to the books, or if they are more “atmospheric” items to bring a Chinese feel to the box. Either way, I think it’s a fun set of items to own, and perhaps I can find a way to hang the tassel near the art print.

Retail Value

We estimate the retail value of these gifts to be about $1.

Stock Up

The Wordy Traveler did not disclose the manufacturer of these gifts, but we found this 20-pack of tassels that look very similar to the one we received.

FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Set of 4 Chinese Teacups

The next item in my Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box was a set of four small Chinese teacups.

Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Teacups Bottom

Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Teacups Stacked

About

These teacups are brown on the outside and white on the inside, with a refrained and simple style. They seem to be made out of ceramic, with a smooth finish on the inside and a rougher, matte finish on the outside.

My Thoughts

These teacups are cute and unassuming, and they would suit and complement just about any set of dishes. It’s cute that The Wordy Traveler sent along Chinese teacups to enjoy the tea in this box, because it actually feels quite different to sip tea from a tiny cup and from a pot that you are sharing with others. You really take your time to savor the flavor of the tea, rather than just gulping it down as you might if your cup were a bit larger.

Retail Value

We estimate the retail value of these teacups to be about $15.

Stock Up

The Wordy Traveler did not disclose the manufacturer of these teacups. The only way to get items like this in the future is to sign up for your own subscription.

Delivery Time

My Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box shipped on January 3, 2019, and it was delivered to me in Tokyo, Japan, on January 15, 2019.

  • Delivery time: 12 days
  • Average delivery time (as of January 2019): 12 days

Value & Verdict

My total monthly cost for one box in the Full Suitcase subscription is $107.95. A Backpacking Edition box would have cost $56.45.

The total retail value of the items in the box was as follows:

Books

  • Peter Hessler, Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip: $15.99
  • FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Paul Theroux, Riding The Iron Rooster: By Train Through China: $16.95
  • FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Jung Chang, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China: $17.95

Tea & Gifts

  • Ohio Tea Company, Ying Ming Looseleaf Tea from Yunnan in China (2 oz): $11.50
  • Matted Art Print of the Great Wall of China: $10
  • Red Tassel & Coin Pouch: $1
  • FULL SUITCASE ONLY: Set of 4 Chinese Teacups: $15

In sum, here’s how the Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box measures up:

  • Total retail value: $38.49 Backpacking Edition / $88.39 Premium
  • Total premium over retail: $17.96 Mini (+47%) / $19.56 Premium (+22%)

Overall, The Wordy Traveler subscriptions are not boxes to buy for retail savings. For either box version, U.S. subscribers will just about break even with the price of the box, but international subscribers will be paying a premium over retail value.

It’s worth considering that this might not end up being too much more than you would have to pay for these items anyway, because depending on where you live, there may be a steep premium on English books. So even though no one really pays the full MSRP for books these days, you may not fare quite as badly as this analysis makes it appear.

Wordy Traveler Subscription Box Winter 2019 China Edition Books Stacked

But nonetheless, this subscription is really more for the careful curation and selection of great books, as well as the experience of immersion you get when you drink the tea and enjoy the gifts that relate to the quarterly theme. It would make a fabulous present for an intellectual or bookworm like me!

General Information

For general information about The Wordy Traveler, including subscription options, cost, shipping, tracking, packaging, charitable giving, and customer experience, see the Wordy Traveler Overview post.

Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of our quarterly Wordy Traveler reviews.

And if you are in the market for a fabulous subscription or gift box for women that offers global shipping, check out our round-up of the top 10 subscriptions for women who live abroad!

Give a Shout!

Let us know what you think of the Winter 2019 Wordy Traveler subscription box in the comments below. Did you love the China theme and the selection of books as much as we did? As always, we love hearing from you.

You may also like...

Popular Articles...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *