Posted in Kafevend Blog
The UK's tea scene is dominated by well known names like Tetley, PG Tips and Typhoo. These are companies with a wealth of experience in blending teas and their long standing reputation as popular, dependable brands doesn't look likely to falter any time soon. Nevertheless, the sheer appetite for tea that remains in Britain today and the importance, amongst the younger generation in particular, of provenance, sustainability and health benefits means that there's plenty of room in the market for less well known brands who bring something different to the tea experience. Surprisingly perhaps, not all such companies are particularly new, which leads us nicely to the tea company that is the subject of today's blog – Williamson Tea.
A family run business for five generations, Williamson Tea was founded in 1869 in the Assam district of India. Operations diversified into Kenya during the 1950s, which is where the company is centred to this day. What makes Williamson Tea different from the big names, is that while the likes of Tetley and Twinings are concerned with blending various types of tea, Williamson cultivate their own on four estates in the Kenyan Highlands so they have ownership of the process from the tea bush right through to the cup.
Tea production goes on all year round in the rich fertile soil, which receives regular rainfall as well as plenty of sunshine. This steady supply of tea is constantly tasted to ensure quality products, but taste is just one of the company's key considerations. Environment and community are also important; soil preservation, water conservation and solar powered technology form part of the company's responsible approach to sustainability; homes, schools and clinics are provided to ensure the well being of the local farming communities who work on the tea estates.
All companies have some kind of signature logo on their packaging and Williamson Tea is no exception. Theirs is an elephant, the idea for which came from the family's business in India where an elephant named Shaan helped with the removal of dead tea bushes on steep slopes that were inaccessible by tractor. These days the company have formed a partnership with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which carries out elephant rescue and rehabilitation, in addition to much other conservation work. Amongst the many tea products available on the Williamson Tea website are a range of beautifully designed elephant tea caddies and a pound from the sale of each caddy is donated to the Trust.
Williamson sell their tea through Waitrose as well as online, with a good selection of black, green and flavoured teas such as Earl Grey, mint and lemon. They're also the company behind Lifeboat Tea, the tea sold in aid of the lifesaving work of the RNLI, which is available in a wider number of supermarket chains. If you're looking for a high quality tea, or a new way to support elephants or lifeboats, Williamson Tea could be the way forward. Just look out for the elephant logo!