11th January 2013
Tea isn't just the world's favourite beverage. It's number one in sentiment - it helps define many nationalities. None can rival the British for taking an ancient Chinese drink with such fervour for four centuries that it is regarded as the most British of customs. Britain adopted and adapted tea customs and invented new tea rituals that are now world renowned. Afternoon tea, tea parties, Earl Grey: the nation living by its kettle.
Industrialisation and tea went hand in hand - the sobriety and caffeine associated with tea meant tea breaks actually boosted productivity. Relaxing with tea also became the height of fashion. No other beverage has had as many public houses devoted to it. Special times in the day were created to ensure tea received proper attention.
The Chinese, not known for their easy persuasion, watched this British love affair develop over half a millennia and were mildly interested when in 2005 the first tea leaves were actually grown and harvested in the UK. Chinese television came to see for itself and in 2013 more detailed views of British tea will be broadcast to half a billion viewers. The best Chinese tea companies are now collaborating with Tregothnan to grow tea for Chinese tea houses in London and Berlin.
Perhaps the most intriguing chapter in tea is only now unfolding. The quintessentially British tea ritual and ceremony is perfectly presented in the Festival of Tea. While the Festival of Tea is quite capable of popping up on Trafalgar Square it is also the best answer yet to the coffee house chains on high streets around the world. Known to tea aficionados as the festival or simply FoT, its permanent presence on the best streets and malls is being welcomed from Shanghai to New York.
Tregothnan will be given due prominence on the menu as the most British tea ever conceived. However, in keeping with the long tradition of celebrating afar tea cultures, other fine teas will also be available. Tea cocktails in the evening and delightfully British food menus will build a loyal customer base from breakfast time to all day. Simple pleasures of poached eggs, beans on toast and scones, jam and cream are no less brilliant for being simple.
Your country needs you, and tea. Since the financial crises citizens have become reluctant owners of banks and other failed institutions. Now is the time to own an institution that has never failed. There is no trouble so great nor grave that cannot be much diminished by a good cup of tea - wherever you are. So the Festival of Tea is to be franchised to wherever the need is greatest. You can immediately join the Festival for just £10 and receive three cups of tea when we open in Shanghai. This is the civilised version of crowd sourced funding, developed over a cup of tea of course. Tell us where you need to see FoT and we will talk to operators who know how to open our concept in the best locations.
Taking tea back to its ancient home in China with FoT could happen in 2013. Contemporary and stylish but a place also for business meetings. Men were lured into coffee houses because the teashops had a lot of doilies and chintz. Once in the coffee houses they ordered tea, of course. Now the setting, service and choice have been reinvented, tea sales are going to surge. Until last year FoT was bigger in tea than Starbucks. This is no longer true - Starbucks are opening tea shops, helping fulfil the future in tea prophesy. However FoT is headquartered in the UK and is unashamedly British. Tea drinkers of the world, welcome to Festival of Tea.