The Quality is in the Detail
Every beautifully conceived creation pays homage to the smallest details. During the recent renovation of one of London’s luxury hotels, the owners not only invested in new, intricate wallpaper and carpets, Old Master artworks and state of the art lighting. They also brought in the world’s best artisans to pay attention to how that light fell on gold leaf.
Clearly not every hotel or restaurant can afford such ardent — and expensive — pursuit of quality and perfection. But they can uphold or burnish their reputation with more affordable, accessible details. Like the quality of their staff uniforms, or the awesomeness of their wine cellars.
Or the best tea money can buy.
Unfortunately, serving premium quality tea is a trick often missed by hotels, restaurants and other food and beverage outlets that otherwise uphold the highest quality standards.
‘I think tea is one of those details that helps make a business more competitive. The quality of the tea you serve your customers says a lot about the extent of your attention to detail,’ says Bharat Chudasama, co-founder and Tea Master of Hope & Glory, the award-winning British tea company based in Hertfordshire that boasts 8 prestigious Great Taste stars from the Guild of Fine Food.
‘How often have you stayed in a hotel room where the sheets are made of the finest Egyptian cotton, the entertainment system is straight out of science fiction, but the tea caddy above the mini bar is filled with ordinary tea bags? It’s the kind of let-down that can downgrade what would otherwise have been a perfect experience. Where is the love?’
Bharat recalls a meeting in a prestigious members’ club where the tea served simply wasn’t up to scratch. ‘I looked at the nicely printed menu, and they were charging nearly £4 for a cup of tea from bags filled with fannings, which is the lowest and cheapest grade of tea leaves. But they wouldn’t be able to get away with charging those prices if people knew the true value and quality of what they were paying for. That’s when I realised there was a market for a tea company like Hope & Glory.’
Hope & Glory was founded by Bharat and his wife Nina nearly 3 years ago, driven by their love of tea and inspired by comforting childhood memories of delicious masala chai. Their team has since grown, and their business with it. Hope & Glory’s range of teas, tea blends and tisanes — all organic, hand-picked, and whole-leaf — are available for the hospitality trade in loose leaf formats or in biodegradable pyramid bags, in a variety of measures and sizes.
Eleven tea varieties have been grouped into 4 collections based on their unique characteristics: Classic (Assam, English Breakfast), Nurturing (Rooibos, Chamomile, Peppermint), Delicate (Green, Jasmine Pearls, Earl Grey, Darjeeling), and Signature (Masala Chai, Red Velvet).
This winter, four more Hope & Glory teas and tisanes will hit the market – Lapsang Souchong, Mint Choc, Vanilla Chai and White Assam. Their launch will coincide with the introduction of new branding and 100% sustainable packaging.
‘Even if operators can afford better quality tea, many won’t offer tea like Hope & Glory because they believe their customers will settle for less anyway. What they don’t realise is that there’s a tea revolution going on, just as there was a shift in how people began to think of coffee 20 years ago. We’d like to take those hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses with us, because we’re leading that tea revolution. Some of our clients and partners, like Café Spice Namaste, Pride of Britain Hotels and The Waldorf Hilton are ahead of the curve.’
This is also why Bharat and Nina feel that tea education is more important now than ever before.
Says Nina, ‘We’d love to be able to educate people about what makes great tea.
‘There are “Seven Steps to the Perfect Brew” ™, or commandments, to follow when it comes to making the perfect cup of tea. These are really the details that lead tea-lovers to the best tasting, best quality tea. They blend the science and art of tea.
‘So you have the origin of the tea leaves, their quality, the quality and temperature of the water, the brewing time, type of vessel, and any accompaniments like milk. Sadly, this still isn’t very common knowledge.’
Bharat and Nina are extremely particular about the details surrounding Hope & Glory Tea. And because nowadays people look for commitment to the community and environment, they’ve taken care to align themselves with the Fair Trade movement and the Soil Association. They also only work with tea gardens and plantations that are members of the Ethical Tea Partnership.
‘Our mission is to elevate the standards people expect of tea served to them at a hotel, restaurant or any hospitality establishment, so that one day no one will be willing to spend so much money for a mediocre brew made from sub-standard tea,’ says Bharat.
When that day comes, you’re likely to find premium, organic, whole leaf tea – dare it be Hope & Glory? — propped above the mini-bar, and in any quality establishment that serves nothing less than great tea.
Written by Gina McAdam on behalf of Hope & Glory and sections of the article originally appeared in The Caterer magazine, December 2018.