Illustration by Nina Hunter
I went travelling this summer and it was an amazing experience…but don’t worry I’m not going to bore all readers with stories of finding myself whilst contemplating life on the top of a mountain. One thing I did do though, was visit a tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands. It was the Boh plantation and I was taken on a nice little tour of the factory and the fields – it all looked very pretty and appealing. I realise now that the tea they were growing was more than likely sprayed with chemicals and had extras added once it had dried.
Tea is big, competitive business, especially here in the UK. Pukka Teas are one of the few companies to recognise the new demands consumers are making on what they drink, for example where it has come from and what good it will do to the body. I spoke to founder and herbologist Sebastian Pole to find out why he has developed the fairtrade, organic company.
The press day was a very relaxed affair at the Crimson Bar in the Soho Hotel, with every tea from the range available plus a lovely selection of cakes and biscuits. After settling down, Sebastian explained the ethos behind the business to me ‘I didn’t just want to sell, there are enough companies out there looking for sales’. A herbologist by trade, making money in the big bad world of business is far from his mind, ‘I wanted people to start looking for quality when they buy their tea. Any tea that is not organic is likely to have been sprayed and there is no reason for this’ he told me.
Illustration by Laurie King
At the moment the majority of the range is tea, but they are expanding. With health supplements proving to be successful, Sebastian told me that he is using his contacts in India and Sri Lanka to source more sustainably produced supplements. Based on foods (such as new superfood mushroom) instead of chemicals, the nutrients they release into the body last much longer.
Already making ripples in the consumer market, Pukka Teas has picked up a celebrity fan in the shape of supermodel Erin O’Connor (star of M&S campaigns, read our interview of their illustrator here). She was so keen on the teas she set up the sanctuary spa at London Fashion Week 2008 as an area for the models to relax and unwind with Detox teas. For the moment, Sebastian is working on getting all of the teas certified as fair trade, and will continue to practice the brands lifestyle choice of ‘ayurveda’, the art of living wisely.
Sebastian founded the Pukka Teas company with Tim Westwell in 2001
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