The world’s gone premium

February 27, 2020

Bharat and Nina Chudasama cheer the surge in demand for premium, speciality teas — particularly brands with a sustainability and duty-bound vision like Hope & Glory® — and urge more hospitality businesses to take notice of what’s behind that demand.

When Bharat and Nina Chudasama decided to set up premium, organic Hope & Glory® Tea from their family home in Hertfordshire nearly four years ago (4th anniversary in April 2020!), they had only one thing in mind besides, of course, making a commercial success of it. Their new company would go all out to elevate the standards and expectations tea-lovers had of tea.

Fed up with seeing good money paid in premium restaurants, hotels and cafes for what in effect are the dregs of the tea plant –- dustings tea grade – found in many a traditional cuppa, they pledged to do the best they could to make people sit up and demand the superior tea they deserved. If premium coffee has become the norm out-of-home, why not premium tea?

A truly premium tea

But there is premium and premium. Bharat and Nina believe Hope & Glory®’s 19-variety strong, all-organic teas and tisanes are the very best premium tea can be: handpicked, whole-leaf , single origin (from a specific terroir) and single estate (from only one garden or plantation). Their confidence is well-founded. Hope & Glory® has won a string of Great Taste stars from the Guild of Fine Food, the latest for their classic green Organic Jasmine Pearls tea and Organic 2nd Flush Darjeeling. With 2020 barely started, the brand has already been nominated for a number of UK and international awards.

Moreover, within four years, Hope & Glory® has managed to acquire either exclusive or preferred tea supplier status at a number of luxury and deluxe hotels, restaurants, cafes, and visitor attractions as well as a major food service company. Sales of Hope & Glory’s on-line teashop are steadily rising.

A tea for our times: Health is wealth

Because of this, Nina and Bharat are in no doubt that Hope & Glory® is well placed to respond to the current clamour among millennials for premium, speciality teas. These are the green teas, herbal teas (or tisanes) and increasingly, botanical teas (such as CBD) as well as the black teas and tea blends known as Assam, Earl Grey and English Breakfast sweeping the out-of-home tea market, which includes coffee shops.

‘It’s a sign of the times,’ says Bharat. ‘What used to be niche is now the fastest growing segment of the tea as well as the overall F&B market. A huge factor is the quest for wellness and well-being has now gone firmly mainstream. It’s down to the millennial generation being extremely conscious about what they put into their bodies. ’

‘Even people from other generations are starting to take notice of what’s driving these savvy and health conscious 24-39 year olds – they’re the leaders of the pack, economically, socially and culturally. They’re spending a lot on what they consider an investment in their health and future, but are also making purchases based on their values.’

Nina agrees with the prevailing consensus that tea is the original functional beverage. ‘If you look back at tea’s origins 5000 years ago, it was coveted for basically medicinal purposes. More than coffee, people believe premium tea possesses the qualities and nutrients needed to nourish healthy bodies and minds and to prevent diseases, stimulate brain health and physical energy. It isn’t just for a narrow group of health buffs or elite athletes.’ She points to Hope & Glory®’s Nurturing collection, which includes whole-leaf Peppermint, Rooibos and Chamomile tisanes, and the brand’s Delicate collection, with its new green teas, Organic Chaoquing Green, Organic Jasmine Pearls, Organic Relax Tea (a unique green tea infusion), Organic Japanese Sencha as well as Organic Milky Oolong – all perfect for helping to relieve stress.

A true partnership commitment to quality

Those who work closely with Nina and Bharat, such as Guy Hilton, general manager of the Waldorf Hilton® — whose tea offering is exclusively Hope & Glory® – know that, with few exceptions, the couple will not source from tea gardens and plantations that they haven’t personally vetted first. ‘It’s part of keeping your eye on the ball. With premium tea, quality and consistency is so critical,’ says Nina.

Both are convinced that if their tea partners or clients truly wish to impart to their customers the full benefits of their tea offering and service — whether it’s high-grade tea caddies planted in bedrooms, exquisitely themed Afternoon Teas, or innovative tea-infused menus – they must first educate and immerse themselves, as far as possible, in the field to cup tea journey. Thus, with big plans afoot for the Waldorf’s tea service, Bharat insisted that Guy accompany him on a whistle stop tour of their tea garden in Sri Lanka, an experience that Guy would later describe as an incredible eye opener.

Provenance

Bharat and Nina want people to see for themselves how they are able to claim the superior provenance and quality of their tea. That’s because most Hope & Glory® Tea varieties are Orthodox, such as the aforementioned Organic Jasmine Pearls green tea. This means the tea has been processed using traditional rather than mechanical methods. Instead of being harvested with shears, Hope & Glory®’s orthodox teas are all hand-picked and plucked. The subsequent withering, rolling, oxidising and drying process results in whole-leaf, loose-leaf teas that are richer in anti-oxidants and flavour. The fact of being organic also means that the tea plants and the soil on which they grow have not been exposed to harmful unnatural chemicals such as pesticides.

Sustainability: People, product, packaging

Bharat and Nina have always been determined that Hope & Glory® should achieve, and zealously maintain, all the recognised standards and ‘kitemarks’ that hold a product to account, in terms of provenance, quality and sustainability.

‘We want to be successful as a company, but success doesn’t mean anything if we’re making money on the back of other people’s misfortune or hardship or if we have an enormous carbon footprint because we’re seeking out the best tea gardens across the world such as in China, India and Sri Lanka (in the Indian Sub-continent). We got into this business because we love tea, and that means we want everyone in our tea community and ecosystem to benefit as much as possible,’ says Bharat.

Thus, they will only work with tea plantations and gardens that
are members of the Ethical Tea Partnership, or have been accredited by themselves or external associations such as FairTrade, or can evidence their FairTrade ethos, which includes fair wages and commitment to the welfare of tea workers. The company has also begun working with two tea gardens on developing and launching their new Well Tree programme that will involve replanting tea bushes to provide a sustainable and rich in quality supply of tea. What’s more, Hope & Glory® teas, packed at source, are sea-shipped, where possible, rather than flown to the UK.

Going organic was never in question. “Insisting that Hope & Glory® tea should only be organic, and going for Soil Association accreditation, was not just because we wanted a stamp of approval for the authenticity of our tea’s flavour or to keep intact its nourishing attributes, even if these are strong enough reasons. In the simplest terms, organic means greater care for the land and environment,’ says Nina.

She also feels that the company was ahead of the curve in walking the talk on sustainable packaging. In the last two years, Hope & Glory® invested large sums in adopting a 100% sustainable packaging solution recognised as the first of its kind in Europe. Every component of Hope & Glory Tea is recyclable, reusable and compostable. They are now beginning to work with academic institutes such as Universities with a joint passion and vision in Sustainability on developing innovative new solutions for the tea market. The company is also exploring working with recycling partners , such as one of Europe’s largest recycling businesses, so that their brand and company can deliver an end-to-end solution to minimise waste, by collecting, separating, cleaning and recycling materials for all their tea partners.

‘We’ve tried to be leaders in sustainability, lending our voice to the debate at every opportunity. But when we refer to sustainability, we also mean sustaining quality,’ says Bharat.

He adds, ‘Millennials today know when something is the genuine article. For them, tea is a form of luxury. They seek positive tea experiences to add to their memory banks. Hope & Glory® offers all our tea partners the opportunity to consult on the best possible way to deliver the best experience using an excellent product. We tell our tea partners that it’s not enough to have our tea on their menu, but it has to be brewed the right way (Bharat and Nina have their own Hope & Glory® Tea Academy to support the educational journey behind the success of their teas) and used and served properly. After all, our partners know we have their back, and now that premium tea is more popular than ever, we’ll make sure they can put Hope & Glory® at the heart of their customer experience.’

Sustainable tea for a sustainable business.

Written by Gina McAdam, Marketing, Hope & Glory®


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