There are three primary ways in which we source our teas, which we have listed in order of importance. As much as we would like to say that we visit every garden that we source our tea from personally, the truth is we have only visited a handful. Both from a time, economic and environmental standpoint, this would be unsustainable for us as a business. It would be incredibly rare to find a tea company that has visited every single one of the gardens that they buy tea from personally. However, this does not stop us from building relationships with garden owners and sourcing some truly incredible teas.
1: Direct Trade
Many people have a good understanding of what direct trade is - it's cutting out the middle man from the tea buying equation, purchasing tea leaves directly from the person who has either grown or processed them. When we do this, it means we can tell you exactly who grew your tea, how they grew it - and any other detail that allows us to share more of the culture with the end tea drinker.
By building up long term relationships with growers we gain access to a higher quality of tea that would not always be available on the mass market.
2: Direct Traceability
This is when we can't buy the tea directly from the tea gardens, but instead buy from a specialist importer (similar to a coffee green bean importer) who handles the logistics of bringing the tea into Europe. This method will often be used as it is not logistically possible for many smaller tea gardens to ship a batch of high quality tea overseas. This means that the importer has sole distribution of the tea, so it becomes essential to buy from them rather than the garden itself.
The downside to this method is that while you still have a lot of information on the tea and its processing, the price is slightly inflated by the distributors margin. The benefit is that we gain access to teas that would otherwise not be economically or logistically viable to bring into the UK.
3: Specialist Wholesalers
Specialist wholesalers are mainly linked with flavoured or 'fruit' teas. With many flavoured teas, it is unnecessary to have an exceptionally high quality tea as the base ingredient since the flavouring oils mask a lot of the nuanced flavours. This is why it is worthwhile using a more standard and consistent tea, produced or purchased in bulk by a larger wholesaler. This enables us to keep our flavoured teas very consistent in flavour.