Debonair Tea Company

Debonair Tea Company is a family-run tea business set up by Phil and Louisa Johnson who live in Kent.

They were inspired to start Debonair Tea Company because they grew weary of seeing both good and poor quality tea served badly.

They believed it was possible to source, create and serve high-quality loose leaf tea, so they made it their mission to make exceptional tea a daily pleasure.

Their initial plans were to create pop up tea bars where they could serve their own blends — but — it became so popular that their customers begged for them to sell retail online.

Because of that, they had to rethink the business plan and go in a different direction.

They have created and sourced over 30 delicious yet honestly priced unique teas and infusions with more in careful development.

Louisa has also proven her craft, knowledge and love of tea with formal tea sommelier accreditation – the first person to achieve this standard with the UK Tea Academy.

The company is based in Hythe, Kent, their teas are available to buy online, at food shows and festivals as well as at a growing number of retailers across the South East.

Interview with Debonair Tea

We recently had the chance to interview the folks at Debonair Tea. This is a super fun way for you to get to know our tea suppliers and find out a little about their personal life.

How did you get started in the tea business?

Initially, our plan was to create a pop-up tea bar and personally serve our own teas and blends but we were soon getting requests to retail our products online and supply other food businesses – requiring a prompt re-write of the business plan!

What sparked your interest in selling speciality teas?

Tired of experiencing both good and poor quality tea served badly, we believed it was possible to source, create and serve high quality loose leaf tea without pretension and set upon our mission to make exceptional tea a daily pleasure.

What is the very first cup of tea you ever remember drinking?

My childhood feels like a constant cycle of tea making and drinking but my favourite memories are drinking cups of tea at the beach (loose leaf, brewed in a pot) with KitKats!

What is your favourite steeping method and do you drink a lot of tea at home?

In a glass teapot – you can appreciate the colours of the tea and the leaves are given maximum opportunity to move around.

Which tea flavour is your favourite and why?

It changes all the time but my staple breakfast tea is a high quality Keemun (Chinese Black Tea) from our Sommelier’s Selection range.

What distinguishes your teas apart from other speciality teas out there?

I am an accredited tea sommelier but have strived to create and source a range of teas which are really tasty and high quality but also really reasonably priced – something we are able to make possible due to our low overheads.

Our price point is also integral to our goal of making our speciality tea accessible.

What gear or gadget is at the top of your tea wish list?

We love our glass ForLife Bola Teapot – a pricey little number but so easy to clean and beautiful to watch in action.

Do you have a favourite tea cup? If so, tell us about it. 

A big china mug actually with an “L” on it – when enjoying tea in the comfort of the house or the unit, we’re very much about going big!

Have you read any great books about speciality teas?

Lots – Tea Classified by Jane Pettigrew is a great starting point and her recent World of Tea: Discovering Producing Regions and Their Teas is pretty epic.

The World Tea Encyclopaedia by Will Battle is also a fabulous book if it ever gets republished!

Do you have a cafe? 

We don’t yet but hope to resurrect the van and a fixed cafe in the coming couple of years. We do however supply over 50 cafes and restaurants in the South East.

What does the future look like for you? Where do you see your company in the future?

We’ve not gotten out much since welcoming our two little ones over the last few years so hopefully travelling to source lots more interesting tea, getting out and about to more trade shows and food events as well as setting up a more open bricks and mortar shop.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into selling speciality teas?

Make sure you have a robust business model in place and expect to work very hard!

What is your favourite thing to do when you are not working with your special origin teas?

Spending time with our beautiful children, Ruby, almost 3 and James, who is 14 months. It doesn’t get much better than simple, big family walks in and around where we live in Hythe, Kent.

When traveling, do you visit other stores or cafes that sell tea?  Do you ask them about their methods or do you relax and take it all in? 

We do but will generally seek out places we know we can get a decent brew including places we actually supply! Bad tea is always a massive disappointment so in order to relax and enjoy it’s best to research first!

Finally

To learn more about the Debonair Tea Company, be sure and visit their website. You can also follow along with them on Facebook to keep up with all their tea blends they will be creating over the year.

To see which teas we are featuring this month from Deboair Tea, be sure and visit this post.

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