Sunday, 29 August 2010

Interview: Teapigs

Teapigs sell a variety of whole leaf tea bags in interesting flavours (my favourite is Chilli Chai) and their mission statement is to get the UK drinking 'real tea'. Louise from Teapigs answered my tricky tea-related questions.

1) How did Teapigs become convinced of the need to persuade Britain to drink 'real tea'?

We are supposed to be a nation of tea drinkers but the average brew drunk in Britain is bog standard slop. Tea is like wine there is really good tea (like a fine wine) and there is really bad tea (cheap plonk). We felt that real tea wasn’t accessible to the regular tea drinker, any café or shop serving a decent cuppa seemed to associated with pomp, ceremony and gold trim. We want people to be able to get good quality tea in their local deli, café, restaurant etc.

2) What is your favourite variety of tea a) to work with and b) to drink?

There are amazing black teas, green teas, oolongs it is really hard to pick a favourite.... I think it is good to have different teas for different times of the day. I can’t start the day without a strong black tea.

3) Where do you think the best tea comes from (e.g. Japan, Sri Lanka) and why do you think that?

All tea producing countries produce good and bad teas, each tea producing country produces a certain unique taste due to the individual climates and soils. Everyone can find their own favourite it really is a personal taste thing.... I love a gutsy tea from Assam, but I also love the delicate flavour of Ceylon teas.

4) Where do you get your inspiration for more 'unusual' blends?

The more unusual ones are inspired by different kinds of foods – a love of liquorice, a love of chocolate, crème caramel etc.

5) How important should ethics be in the modern tea business? How have your ethics shaped your business?

Tea and ethics go hand in hand. The tea industry supports huge communities in developing regions, providing infrastructure – hospitals, schools etc. We have supported an orphapange in Rwanda since our launch. The orphanage is in a village where we source one of our teas from, as the business has grown so have our contributions to the orphanage.

6) Why do you think independent blenders and tea merchants have been gaining popularity in the last few years?

Because of the rise of quality tea – offering a level above the ordinary tea bag.

7) If you could have any five people at a tea party, who would they be and what would you serve them?
The rest of the teapigs – there are five.... And they all make great tea!

8) Where do you predict tea businesses (and tea itself) heading in the next few years?

There will always be a mainstream tea market but we hope that the quality or gourmet tea category will develop and people will become more educated about the vast range of teas and infusions which are available.

The British tea drinkers will begin to demand real tea!
Sign the petition for real tea at

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