Top marks for tea blend

Macclesfield Express - - LOOKING BACK - KAREN BRIT­TON

ATEA seller who is pas­sion­ate about the per­fect cuppa has won awards for his qual­ity blends.

Phil Pa­ton, 28, has al­ways en­joyed a good cup of tea and has been look­ing for the right time to launch his own tea com­pany. He set up a tea com­pany as a school pro­ject and has al­ways wanted to have a go for real.

So he took the plunge and launched Cheshire Tea with his best friend to­wards the end of last year. He im­ports pre­mium tea leaves from coun­tries in­clud­ing In­dia, China, Sri Lanka and South Africa and pack­ages them from his home on Bux­ton Road in Mac­cles­field.

Phil and busi­ness part­ner Paul Whe­lan, from Black­pool, sell their teas online and at food fes­ti­vals and mar­kets, as well as in shops in Mac­cles­field and restau­rants in­clud­ing Arighi Bianchi and Chilli Banana.

They have now picked up a string of Great Taste Awards, some­times re­ferred to as the Os­cars of the food and drink world.

This in­cluded one gold star each for their Cheshire break­fast, cherry sen­cha and lap­sang sou­chong teas and the most pres­ti­gious three gold stars for their mint cho­co­late rooi­bos. Only 130 prod­ucts out of 10,000 at­tained three gold stars.

Phil, who has gone part­time at his job with BT to pur­sue his ven­ture, said: “It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to have won the awards. I love a great cup of tea and it’s al­ways been a dream to set up a tea com­pany.

“I found it hard to find a high qual­ity tea which was eth­i­cally sourced and tasted great. There is a grow­ing de­mand for loose leaf tea and a shift away from tea bags.”

Phil and Paul have sold 2,500 pack­ets of their loose leaf tea since set­ting up their com­pany and are grow­ing the busi­ness.

Phil is very fussy about the tea he chooses, only pick­ing teas from the first and sec­ond ‘flush’ of the plant, which refers to the dif­fer­ent pick­ing sea­sons through the year.

He said: “We’re very se­lec­tive. The first and sec­ond flush­ings are the pre­mium qual­ity.

“We tried around 150 dif­fer­ent teas and whit­tled it down to 15. We make sure we se­lect the best qual­ity leaf with the best flavour.

“The per­fect cup of tea should be made in a teapot and there are spe­cific brew­ing times and tem­per­a­tures for each blend.

“I am par­tic­u­lar about what tea I drink and of course now I will only drink Cheshire Tea. I’m con­vert­ing many other tea drinkers too.”

For more in­for­ma­tion go to cheshiretea.co.uk

●● Phil Pa­ton (left) and Paul Whe­lan from Cheshire Tea Co, which has just won a num­ber of ac­co­lades at the Great Taste Awards

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