Cherry Blossom Season at The Alnwick Garden remains one of the most highly anticipated sights of Spring. Gaining global coverage each year, the moment all 326 Taihaku burst into bloom, visitors from all over the country flock to our gates to make the most of the blossom’s transient nature.
Despite the blossom’s fleeting appearance acting as part of its magic, each year we can’t help but wish that it lasted just that little bit longer. Enter our Maker of the Month: Tom who, for the second year running, has created a unique Alnwick Garden blend using carefully harvested blossom petals directly sourced and handpicked from our Orchard.
Spilling all the tea, Alnwick Garden Sencha is now available from our Pinery Gift Shop and we have an exclusive insight into the fascinating process of tea making from picking to pot!
What is the origin of your business?
I started Estate Tea in 2015, on the day that I graduated from university in Newcastle. At the time, there wasn’t much in terms of a tea culture in the North East, so it was a big leap of faith. We wanted to bring a little bit of that speciality tea culture into the region. It became clear that if we were to succeed, we needed to be a very specialist tea merchants; focusing on sourcing classic teas, single origin varietals and in house blending – not the passing trends that you find on supermarket shelves!
How has your business evolved?
We decided to open our first tiny shop in the little known arches next to Gateshead’s High Level Bridge. We ran this for around a year and a half, with our customer base of tea enthusiasts steadily growing. Unfortunately in 2020, the covid pandemic hit and we had to close our store.
This was a bit of a do-or-die moment for us. We knew that we needed to upscale our shop to accommodate for social distancing in the future, so we took this opportunity to move our shop and production facility to Heaton in Newcastle. This new shop and production is 5 times the size of our previous one, giving us lots of space to grow.
Who is involved behind the scenes?
We have a team of 5 people, who help to run our teahouse, shop, ceramic studio and wholesale department (where we supply to other cafes and restaurants). Our tea is made up of a really eclectic mix of people – all with different skills and backgrounds. I consider myself very lucky to work with this group of people.
What do you hope to achieve with your business and customers?
My personal aim for my business is to bring a standard of tea to the North East of England that hasn’t been readily available in the past. It’s also to educate people about the culture and ceremony surround speciality tea, that is often lost in modern day society.
Are your products sustainable?
All of our products are sustainably packaged. We use reusable and recyclable aluminium caddies to package our teas. The plastic pouches inside the caddies are also not actually made of plastic! They’re made of a plant based biodegradable material which breaks down in as little as 12 weeks! This means that over the last 3 years we’ve saved over 30,000 pieces of plastic from landfill.
For the perfect way to comemorate Blossom Season and to take a unique part of The Alnwick Garden home with you, head to our Pinery Gift Shop to pick up your limited edition tin of Alnwick Garden Sencha while stocks last.
For more tea tasting and testing, you can visit Estate Tea Co at their delightful shop in Heaton and keep up to date with them here.