English Tea Shop is based in the United Kingdom, and has made a name for itself as a premium tea brand by privately sourcing its own organic tea leaves as opposed to the mainstream method of bidding via tea auction systems.
“The tea auction system has been in place for many years in markets with abundant tea supply such as India and Sri Lanka, but although this can be more economical it does next to nothing to help the development of tea farming or progress in these markets,” English Tea Shop Founder and CEO Suranga Herath told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“After finding a way to bypass this system, it left us able to focus on not only sourcing tea in a fashion and at a price point that can help the entire system from the farmers to us as a brand, we also found that it opened the door up for us to have a wholly premium approach by specialising in organic teas.
“This offering was one of the unique selling points by which we managed to grow in some 50 countries including the EU since starting in 2010, and now we are seeing the market in APAC also demanding more of such premium, organic tea choices.
“So we certainly see APAC as the next phase of our growth, led by markets such as South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and the plan is to start with the travel retail sector in these markets so we can establish ourselves based on class, quality and the premium experience.”
The other aspect that English Tea Shop is best known for is its colourful and very visible array of packaging formats, from tea advent calendars to tea prisms for festive occasions, all part of its gifting collection.
“There is no doubt that the trend for gifting is really on the rise in this region as well, with many consumers and businesses able to meet up with their loved ones face to face again and wanting to bring them treats and presents,” he said.
“The thing is that they are also discerning, and these gifts need to also be meaningful and bring value, which tends to be perceived in terms of the packaging and the design as well as the size and the pricing.
“Our products all have a strong value-price relationship focus in order to meet these demands, such as giving the receiver an experience from opening the advent calendar and getting a surprise tea flavour daily as an example.
“This is not something that can be gotten with just any FMCG purchase, making it a very exclusive experience, a treasure to be discovered with every gift, and this buys in very strongly to the rising gifting trend in the region.”
English Tea Shop products are priced between US$7 to US$35 across its large product portfolio, from smaller packs to the advent calendars.
Tea and botanical NPD
In addition to its teabags, this year the firm is also branching into what it has dubbed ‘gin botanicals’, which is expects to appeal to both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic crowds.
“The gin botanicals are a blend of tea and natural herbs and spices that can be brewed for five minutes in either gin-based cocktails to give these a stronger flavour with no artificial additives; or in cold water to make a refreshing thirst quencher,” Herath said.
“There will be several different blends which could be spicier, fruitier or more floral depending on what consumers want or need from their cold brews – it’s all about the botanicals and the extraction of natural flavour without the need for any synthetics.”