Great Taste Awards 2013

Great Taste Awards 2013The results for the Great Taste Awards 2013 were announced by the Guild of Fine Food last week. We’ve had huge success winning one, two and three gold star awards for several of our teas in the world’s largest and most rigorous food awards scheme involving over 400 judges and thousands of hours of blind tasting.

Great Taste is simply about taste, not clever branding or smart packaging.  Judges are presented with, for example, a piece of cheese, a pie or a little dish of chutney, with no wrappings, jars or marks – and they taste, confer and re-taste before making the decision on whether a product should be a 1-, 2- or 3-star winner.  In total more than 12 judges will have tasted and commented on each product.

Out of almost 10,000 products entered into Great Taste 2013 just 125 have been awarded 3-star.  All 3-star products have been re-judged by a panel including Masterchef judge and restaurant critic Charles Champion, food buyers from Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Whole Food Markets and Michelin Star chef Russell Brown who have together decided on the 2013 Top 50 Foods, the Golden Fork Trophy winners as well as the new 2013 Supreme Champion.

David and I were also involved in the judging for other products – a fantastic experience – great to meet lots of interesting foodie people and to see the judging process. We’re VERY proud to say we achieved the following awards:


Special mention to David for mastering barcodes this week. After around a week of our tea having been in Semley Village Stores it was suggested that barcodes would make life for the shop staff much easier. It was a good spur to get us thinking about our labelling, which up until now had been inside the packets and not very useful in a shop scenario where the customer cannot see what is written. Labels include the tea description, ingredients, weight, best before dates etc.

After some initial research we discovered, shock horror, that you have to pay for barcodes. (Levels of naivety clearly reaching an all time heights). So we bought some – a thousand to be precise, and David very patiently set about the monumental task of creating an InDesign template to hold all of the them (for each weight of each tea – we now have 10g sample packs, 50g bags and 100g bags). For simplicity, since we are printing and sticking ourselves just now, they are all the same size, and very low tech we are, for the moment, using guillotined address labels from WHSmiths!

Bath Christmas Market

We spent 12 days in Milsom Place as part of the Bath Christmas Market. The first time we’d taken our products out to the public, let alone run our own market stall.  On the first day I spent most of the time running around town looking for camping guy ropes simply to attach the signage to the trestle table. Most of the time subsequently was spent handing out a lot of free samples to passers by and trying to learn tea facts – this is definitely the way to catch people’s attention and make sales.

First impressions – it was cold – and some days were very quiet, which didn’t help spirits. But overall it was positive. We met a lot of people, traders, other tea business owners, shop and business owners, the public etc, and from everyone we took on board some great feedback. This was our chance to figure out if the brand concept, incorporating art with tea, was any good, and pretty much everyone seemed to love the packaging and presentation.

The stall was (luckily) set under cover nearby Carluccios restaurant – we probably had one of the best spots in terms of foot fall. In total we took just under £4k, which was less than we’d hoped for but on reflection probably not too bad. The hardest part of the market was having to set up and then dismantle everything each day. The way forwards has to be a seasonal pop-up shop. I was rather envious of the traders who were able to keep warm inside and then simply close the door at the end of each day.

As an aside it took 3 very lovely friends about a week to help us prepare all the tea prior to going to market – packaging, sticking labels, adding the inserts and so on. Thank you to all of them for being so dedicated.

3000 tea bags

Packing 3000 English Breakfast tea bags

Tea Studio Stall

Tea Studio Stall

Walk in the Dark

We are supporting Collarways in this years Walk in the Dark by providing free cups of tea to all walkers. It’s going to be our first outing as The Tea Studio.

Walk in the Dark is all about safety at night, when you’re out walking your dogs in towns, fields or country lanes. Road accidents involving dogs increase significantly during the darker hours of the winter months and this is often due to the fact that the dog and their owner are not visible enough to motorists.

This year Walk in the Dark have chosen to support Search & Rescue Dogs. Collarways, the sponsors, have a close relationship with Berkshire Search and Rescue Dogs, who have chosen the Leuchtie LED collar as their preferred high visibility gear for their search dogs.

Anyone can join in – details below:

Shaftesbury – Country walk on Win Green
meet at Win Green car park of Donhead Hollow
Date: 25th October, 7pm
Organiser: Collarways Limited

We Are Part Time

It’s official – after twelve months of contemplating world domination we finished our full time jobs at the BBC last friday. From now until Christmas we’ll be clocking two days a week for the beeb leaving the rest of each week for TEA! Things are starting to get very exciting and so we celebrated with a trip to Fortnum’s for afternoon tea.

Intellectual Property

An interesting scenario has developed regarding the name of our business. Having tried to incorporate under the name of “Leaf Tea Company” we received an objection and had to quickly go back to the drawing board.

After almost 12 months of thinking of ourselves as “Leaf Tea Company” it felt odd to have to reinvent ourselves. But more to the point, finding available company names is a difficult process. I would say that it is, so far, one of the most challenging things we have had to overcome.

We need a name that is available with Companies House, available as as a .com and domain and also something that checks safely with the IPO – the UK’s trademark office.

David arranged a meeting with the Intellectual Property Office located at the British Library. A very helpful and knowledgeable lady talked us through the things to be aware of – all of which very obvious and confirmed that we really did need to have a totally unique name.

Days of searching thousands of word combinations uncovered “Tea Traders”. We thought we had struck gold – nice alliteration – and in our rush to get the incorporation process complete, decided to go with it. But this also proved to be problematic. The .com was already owned by a chap in the USA but we contacted him in the hope that he might sell us the domain. He wasn’t interested and his best offer came in at $100K, which was slightly over our budget.

Did we really need a .com as well as a The short answer of course is yes if we want to have a global online presence so it was back to the drawing board again to come up with another name.

The number of parked domain names that are sitting waiting for people like us to get desperate enough to consider paying thousands of pounds to secure something appropriate is a real bone of contention for me. Unlike with trademarks there was never any governance set up over domain ownership and so the hundreds of great potential names that we could have had sit dormant and unusable.

However, we are now “The Tea Studio”. I think it works well and actually probably suits our business better than either of the two previous options, encompassing our business model of tea and art very neatly.

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