Posted in Kafevend Blog
Hello and welcome back to the Kafevend blog, and a look at a company that lies across the Irish sea in Belfast- Thompson's Family Tea. This year marks their 120th anniversary, and it certainly looks as though they'll be able to celebrate many more as the company moves from strength to strength. Shipping quality tea in from gardens in Assam and Kenya, the company's fifty employees make a little over a third of the tea that is consumed in Northern Ireland, which takes some doing! So where did it all begin?
Thompson's Family Tea began life as another company- McArthur and Willis tea importers and blenders, operating in the dockyards of Belfast. Back in 1896 Robert Thompson was made a partner there, although not before spending the previous nine years learning the tips and tricks of the tea trade. Robert studied tea tasting, which is a delicate art, and frequently tested the teas the company sold to check for quality. He eventually came to lead the company, and did so for a staggering half a century- or just over, at 51 years. Finally in 1947 he handed it on to his two sons, James and Tony, who had become partners in the company themselves a few years earlier.
Keen to improve on their father's legacy, the brothers made strides with the business. They created the Punjana tea brand which has become famous in Northern Ireland and is one of the most popular teas in the country. They were also forced to all but rebuild the company in 1973. Deep in the somewhat understated time of troubles, their premises were devastated by a bomb which had been intended for a nearby police station. Thankfully, one machine survived the blast and allowed them to carry on. After an impressive 40 years at the helm themselves, they in turn passed Thompson's Family Tea on to the third generation, cousins in the family called Ross and David, who still lead the company to this day.
Thompson's has always prided itself on the quality of its tea over the years- a fact which has not been lost on others. Only two years ago, they won twenty gold medals in the Great Taste Awards for a selection of their teas, which is a pretty impressive haul! Of course, perhaps the best marker for their quality is the adoration shown by the Irish public itself, who have been enjoying Thompson's Family Tea for decades. The Irish aren't the only people to enjoy it though- along with the rest of Great Britain, Thompson's also ships some of its tea to the USA, where their premium brand is sold in swanky hotels all along the east coast.
So then- if you're looking for something to spice up your mug, be sure to look out for Thompson's Family Tea the next time you go shopping!