Har­ness­ing the real pow­ers of Thai tea

T

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

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

You can’t re­cy­cle again & again & again & again & again & again & again & again & again & again & again & again & with­out adding some new fi­bre

cy­cling goes from strength to strength, with 78.9 of the raw ma­te­ri­als in news­pa­pers now com­ing from re­cov­ered pa­per. Pa­per can­not be re­cy­cled in­def­i­nitely, new fi­bres have to be in­tro­duced. Re­cy­cle your news­pa­pers and you’re

re­duc­ing land­fill and make re­spon­si­ble use of for­est fi­bres.

To find out more about re­cy­cling news­pa­pers con­tact: The Newsprint & News­pa­per In­dus­try En­vi­ron­men­tal Ac­tion Group (NNIEAG) on 01793 889637 or www.nnieag.org.uk and it is all pro­cessed by hand. The peo­ple that pick and make the tea are all well ex­pe­ri­enced, they know ev­ery­thing about it.”

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!”

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