We sat down with Ashok Dias founder and tea buyer at Tea Drop. Ashok and our very own Danny Davies go way back to 2005. Ashok is as passionate about tea as we are about coffee, so we thought it would be a good time to sit down and have a chat to learn more about why speciality tea is a must-have addition to the beverage menu.
What do you love about tea in general?
Tea dates back over 2,500 years spreading over multiple cultures. It has now been revived in the 21st century as a specialty beverage that is highly sought after. From tea sommeliers on the hunt for a tea with unique flavour profiles, to new age tea drinkers who appreciate tea infusions and functional teas.
What we love most about tea is its versatility.
We listen to what customers want, and that covers a broad spectrum of wants and needs. Everyone loves a cup of tea, you can have a strong black tea in the morning, a milder black tea or oolong in the afternoon, green teas after a meal and caffeine-free herbal infusions at night. Tea is also extensively used in gastronomy, from tea-infused dishes, to tea-based cocktails and cold brew iced teas.
What would you say is different about Tea Drop’s tea?
From its inception, we realised the importance of being different. We attribute the secret of the brand to one simple secret – freshness. When we brought fresh tea into cafes and customers experienced a high-quality cup of tea, they soon realised what they’ve been missing out on and started appreciating high-quality tea like Tea Drop’s. Similar to how a chef strives to use fresh ingredients in their degustation, we wanted to bring to our customer the freshest and the highest quality of tea.
We ensure that we can offer this consistently by manufacturing our teas in micro lots, hand blending and hand sorting all our teas before they are packed for our clients around the world. We use only premium Orthodox teas and stay away from the low-quality CTC teas. This enables us to maintain the core objective of sourcing and delivering fresh, premium tea to our distributors globally.
We stay away from supermarket retail shelves as this takes away from the focus on selling fresh tea as we are unable to control the turnover and storage of our product prior to going onto shelves. Finally, what also makes us different is that Tea Drop as an Australian company that has invested in setting up an office in Sri Lanka with a team of tea specialists who monitor the overall sourcing and packing of Tea Drop tea. An important fact to take into consideration is that most of the premium and specialty teas that we source are grown within close proximity to Sri Lanka and due to its geographical location, it’s a viable solution to source fresh tea, pack and deliver to all our partners globally from here.
What would you say to someone who doesn’t know much about tea? Where should they start?
As mentioned earlier, tea is so versatile that it can cater to everyone’s flavour profile. If they are after a strong tea, then we can recommend one of our breakfast blends which they could have straight or with a dash of milk. If they are used to drinking single origin black coffee, we have a range of single origin premium teas like the Pu-erh, Yunnan Golden Tips, etc. If they’re a fitness fanatic, we have a range of green and wellness teas that can meet their requirement. It’s all about understanding what sort of flavour profile you are after.
There is an art to brewing a cup of tea and to brew the best tea you need to select a tea that suits your taste profile. You will also need to use fresh filtered water, with the correct amount of tea and water at the right temperature. Black teas and most herbal infusions need boiling water at 99◦C to extract the flavour whereas your green, oolong and white teas require water at a much lower temperature to ensure you do not bruise your teas leaves and leave a bitter aftertaste. Brewing utensils are also important and pre-warming your cups and pots, ensures that there is no drastic drop in temperature when brewing your perfect pot of tea.
Where do you think tea is heading? Where will the industry be in 5 years?
There is an uptake of good fresh tea in the market place now. Cafe goers are much more knowledgeable on taste when it comes to food, coffee, and wine. They place all other products including tea into the same category and demand high-quality and premium teas. We’ve also noticed a trend where customers are moving towards healthy products in general and this will shift them towards more functional teas. Consumers still want their cup of coffee in the morning but are now looking for low caffeine options in the afternoon and caffeine free options at night which has resulted in an increase in consumption of tea. The specialty tea segment will continue to grow while the flavour expectations of the consumer rises. To keep up with the rise we will need to continue to upgrade our tea service – how we serve and present this unique beverage to our customers.
Climpson & Sons offers tea by Tea Drop for wholesale supply. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.