I tried Tippsy, an online marketplace that makes it easy to order and learn about sake
- In the US, the consumer sake market suffers from lack of education, high mark-ups, and lack of access.
- Tippsy puts premium Japanese sake in the spotlight. It sells more than 200 sake products and also has a monthly subscription box option to help you discover your sake preferences.
- Buying sake online through Tippsy is convenient, affordable, and informative. I tried three different types of sake through the Tippsy Sake Box ($49-$59). The experience was a great first step towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of sake.
When you eat at a Japanese restaurant, ordering sake along with your meal is practically a must. However, outside of the restaurant setting, sake can seem intimidating to explore. It's not as widely available in the US as other types of alcohol, and there aren't as many opportunities to learn about it compared to more mainstream drinks like beer and wine.
Genki Ito, the founder of online sake marketplace Tippsy, saw these problems as an opportunity.
Tippsy fills the accessibility and education gap of an alcohol that Ito believes should deserve a larger place in the spotlight. "Sake is so much more than just hot sake or sake bombs. Sake makes for elegant pairings with all kinds of cuisine beyond sushi and Japanese food," he says.
The company says that 90% of consumers who have drank sake at a restaurant have never bought a bottle at a retail store. With its website, which features educational resources, a large selection of sake shipped from Japan, and the option to subscribe to a monthly discovery box, Tippsy is making it easier to experience premium sake from home.
How Tippsy streamlines the sake discovery and buying process
Tippsy works closely with Japanese importers to cut through steps of a traditionally long supply chain, which is what can cause quality issues and high markups in current retail sake offerings. Soon after the sake arrives in the US, Tippsy delivers the sake directly to customers, ensuring it'll be both fresh and affordable.
On the website and with each delivery, customers can look at taste profiles and pairing suggestions. Most imported sake have labels in Japanese, so Tippsy acts as a translator by converting the descriptions into easily digestible, English notes for the beginner sake enthusiast.
You can shop more than 200 sake products by a variety of filters - taste, price, type (which is based on how much the rice has been milled), brand, and brewery. Some of the breweries that Tippsy imports from have hundreds of years of history.
But before you even dive into this large selection, you might want to educate yourself fully on what you're even drinking. Refer to the Tippsy Sake Guide and you'll learn everything from how sake is made, to how to serve and store it, to the best food pairings.
If you've perused the guide and are still a little confused about which sake to buy, there's another simple option: the Tippsy Sake Box, which is a monthly subscription box.
How the Tippsy Sake Box works and what it's like
Through this flexible subscription, you'll receive three 10-ounce bottles of sake every month. The box features different flavors and different breweries to give you a taste of the exciting spectrum of sake. Depending on which plan you buy (you can pre-pay for up to a year's worth of sake), each bottle costs only $16 to $20.
Tippsy sent me one of these boxes to try the experience. My knowledge of sake is minimal: I know generally how it's made and I'm never one to say no to a sake cocktail. But it's an alcohol that has always intrigued me and something I'm willing to learn more about, so I was excited to receive this sake sampler.
The bottles were safely packed and each came with a card describing the sake and the best ways to drink it (cold versus hot versus room temperature, food pairings, etc). I could try to hunt down this information online myself, but to be honest, I'm lazy and it's always much easier when someone I trust gives me the lowdown.
All the information was presented clearly, and it allowed me to directly compare the three types of sake side by side. My teammate and I enjoyed taste-testing each sake and comparing our notes. Though one box wasn't enough for me to determine my definitive preferences just yet, I thought it was a great start and I do feel more confident about sake than I did before trying Tippsy.
The bottom line
While online wine clubs abound, Tippsy is quietly cultivating a community for a more niche alcohol category that's ready to burst into the mainstream in the US. If you order sake through Tippsy, you're getting a convenient and affordable all-access pass to this community and its educational benefits.
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