Harnessing the real powers of Thai tea
HE cup of tea has always been the priority for Britons, but one local businessman wants to start a teavolution!
For John Wombwell of West Drayton, life has always been about discovering and introducing new flavours of tea.
“I’m an Englishman from a farm and there’s nothing that my grandmother believed couldn’t be cured with tea,” he said. “I’m very passionate about it.”
For five years, John has joined forces with a family of tea farmers in northern Thailand to help introduce organic Thai tea to the UK through Daokrajai Lanna Thai Teas.
Ever since a visit to Thailand many years ago, John discovered the lush tea plantations in the north, recognising the true power of Thai tea.
This visit led him to an estate near Mae Salong, the epicentre of tea growing in the northern Thailand region. The are is mostly farmed by hill tribe villagers.
John saw the potential that this estate had withi the tea industry and aimed to introduce the exotic flavours to the UK and worldwide.
Jump forward 40 years and the estate and its family are still working closely with John, growing organic tea that has never been touched by present day farming techniques such as insecticides, fertilizers and machinery as is the case with many growers in China.
“When you buy your standard teabag from the supermarket, it’s been machine harvested and the machine doesn’t really differentiate between new and old shoots or even twigs. Our teas are all hand picked and you must remember that you need to pick 5kg of lean tea to make 1kg for drinking.”
“It’s a lot of hard work
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Daokrajai Lanna Thai Teas has since built a reputation for quality and unparalleled business practice, ensuring that the supplier is always offered a fair price.
“I let the suppliers determine a fair price. I always hear ‘It’s nice doing business with you’ and I’ve been told that first we are friends and then we are business partners. That’s how I like to be with all these people, it is built on a foundation of trust, you trust them.”
The business offers a wide range of teas including Green, Oolong, Herbal and Red teas, each with their own variations and flavours.
When asked if our tea drinking nation would embrace Thai flavours, John said: “I really think Thai tea would be popular in the UK, the benefits of green tea are already well known. People already know that these teas contain no caffeine and have obvious health benefits.
“The British public is definitely coming around to this idea. You mustn’t forget, this is how tea was originally brought to England over 400 years ago.”
The future is already looking very bright for John Wombwell and Daokrajai Lanna.
“This year is going to be particularly good, I made friends at the Thai embassy in London and I’m now a member of the association, Thai business UK.
“I’ve also been invited by the embassy to attend the Taste of Dublin and the Taste of London in June representing Thailand. This will give so many new people a chance to try the teas.
“It takes many years of hard work to become an overnight success!”