Thursday, 9 September 2010

Interview: Simon at Cup of Tea

Simon Collins is one of the brains behind the fantastic website Cup of Tea, a veritable treasure trove of exotic teas (keep your eyes peeled for the new 'tea travels around the world' starting on the blog in the next couple of days to get an idea of their fantastic range.)

1) How did you first become involved in the tea industry?

Christine, our MD worked for Ronnefeldt in Germany for many years. Ronnefeldt is a traditional tea business which specialises in supplying the very best teas to four and five star hotels and restaurants worldwide. Most people in Great Britain don’t realise that the Germans drink lots of fine teas and the average knowledge of tea there is far higher than in the UK. When Christine came to the UK in 2001 she became the UK distributor for Ronnefeldt and Cup of Tea was born. Since then Cup of Tea has grown to become very well established as an online and wholesale trade supplier of a huge range of quality teas.

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

The tea we like to work with is Morning Dew. Because the majority of people here are only accustomed to tea with milk it’s a superb way to introduce people to green tea. It’s refreshing, tasty and easy to drink with no extremes of flavour or aroma.

It’s very hard to pick just one but our favourite tea to drink is Darjeeling First Flush. It’s absolutely delicious – light, delicate, slightly sweet. We drink it at all times because it’s so refreshing.

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

This question is almost impossible to answer because there are superb teas from nearly all the major growing areas. Most important is the tea is produced using the traditional orthodox method. That means hand picking and processing in small batches relying on the skill of the estate manager to ensure a perfect result. If we really have to choose we would go for Darjeeling. Because of the location in the foothills of the Himalayas almost all production is Orthodox.

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

It’s the tea taster's job to understand what works with what – and most importantly to understand what’s going to be popular looking forward. It’s his skill that counts in matching what may seem to be strange components.

5) Why do you think it is important that people experience good quality teas?

Because there’s much more to life (and tea) than brown liquid with milk and sugar!

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

We’ve experienced increasing demand for better quality and diversity in all aspects of consumption. Good tea is driven by the same forces pushing forward artisan cheeses, better wines and other specialist foods.

7) If you could have any five people at a tea party, who would they be and what would you serve them?

The Queen – Queens Tea – a blend specially developed for her during a royal visit to Germany.

Johnny Depp – Oolong. Mostly because the girls want to meet him!

Winston Churchill – Mokalbarie; a gorgeous Assam broken leaf tea suitable to be drunk with milk. Ideal for a classic Englishman.

Chinese Emperor Chen Nung; said to be the inventor of green tea – Yuncui- to see what he thinks of the modern equivalent.

The Mad Hatter – Singell First Flush Darjeeling. A gorgeous tea for a tea expert!

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

We see a great future for specialised businesses like Cup of Tea. There is increasing demand for really good teas and we believe our huge range helps. Tea as a category will also continue to grow as more consumers become aware of what is available outside of dusty teabags! We are increasingly encouraged that more and more people are prepared to brew and drink real loose leaf teas.

1 comment:

  1. Stop posting about all these lovely places to get tea, I want them all! ;) And this one accepts paypal!!!