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TSS Business of the Month for November 2014 is Northern Tea Merchants

Back in 2011 we partnered with this featured business to overview its long history of repute and to put a small leaf tea, a tea blend (in tea bags) and a ground coffee product to the test. We rounded all our findings in one dedicated post. Read it by clicking on the link here

Recently it came to my attention (as Editor at tss) that Northern Tea Merchants had acquired a new website for itself, one with a functionality that is much improved overall and which now presents the quality of teas and coffees from many different origins, expert blends; herbal infusions and hot beverage making machinery, kits, accessory and gift items to better effect.

James Pogson

James Pogson

The online purchasing experience is straightforward. Once registered, buyers can choose a specific pack size, quantity, or weight (whichever applies), and select the preferred grind in regard to the coffee selecting. The pricing is clear cut, item(s) can be added to the basket (or removed), and then one can move on through the secure checkout, using a debit or credit card payment, in the usual way.

I was in touch again recently with Director, James Pogson (pictured above) acknowledging the new changes to the website and expressing a wish to make Northern Tea the TSS Business of the Month for November 2014. I had intended, for a long time, to drive from my home in South Derbyshire to the North of the county to visit this place of business; one of Chesterfield’s most established and respected. I was treating the opportunity for James to play host, as a way of gathering a bit more background information to that I had previously acquired, and to snap at the chance of photographing for use in the compilation of this post dedicated to the company.

On arrival I was welcomed in with a brew of green tea and received an informative presentation in which James was hugely educative and generous with his information sharing in regard to origin, leaf, tea workers; processes; production, trading and pricing, and so on, and really willing to fill in the gaps when I fired him a question or two.

IMG_2670
We then moved away from the high tech for a while, to the deliciously low tech world of tea tasting. You will see by the image immediately above that James had arranged in a row on a long, tall table examples of the broad range of black and green teas supplied from those extensive tea plantations I had seen from James’s own photography taken on his visits abroad. James’s instruction to arrive at a fair test for all was to dip the spoon, and then sip each tea strongly and loudly from it, then to allow the infusion to friction wash against the taste buds under the tongue. Took a while for me to master, if I did at all!

If you are a reader who likes and appreciates a good quality beverage you will enjoy reading that detailed about the tea tasting in the next paragraph or two:

infusion timing

infusion timing

 

First, from Taiwan, a Formosa Jade Oolong tea, the leaves are tight little rolled balls that when they free fall from the pack into the brewing cup and are infused for four minutes in hot water of 85 degrees centigrade (that is the requirement), they are then separated from the brew into the drinking vessel through a strainer. The leaves, which have now softened and have unrolled and are suddenly very large, are tipped out and set upon the upside tops of china lids for the benefit of further inspection and performance noting as part of the testing process.

Tippy Orthodox Assam

Tippy Orthodox Assam

Other teas sampled in the same way included Japenese Houjicha – a roasted green tea, that was discovered in the 1920s when a Taiwanese merchant roasted some Sencha which he’d had for a long time and which was starting to deteriorate. It is unique in that there are no other teas processed this way as far as James is aware. Houjicha is about 10 times the price of small-leaf Assam tea (a black tea), widely used, and I tasted this too, a Tippy Orthodox Assam version in fact (pictured right).

Two flower teas came in the form of the popular, Rose Congou and the exquisite Jasmine Yin Hao Lotus blend, the latter having an aroma from nose diving into the open pack that sends your senses into a spin. James included a Rooibos and explained it was not actually tea, and that it was a plant native to Africa which has an extremely long root. I particularly enjoyed the Moroccan Mint and have been brewing this a lot at home since.

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The inclusion of a Chocolate Tea demonstrated to me that James is not falling short in the popular call for cocoa editions of various food and drink concoctions and guises that are not usually synonymous to chocolate and people like these kinds of products, especially for gift buying. While on the subject of gifts … Gift hampers can be made to order. The tea version (shown below) includes the eye catching gold foil packs of such beautiful tea products and a China Tea-Set. Contact James on 01246 232 600 or email enquiries@northern-tea.com , he has a wonderful working ethic and is extremely customer focused. James will offer his expert advice, not only on leaf grades, manufacturing queries, and many aspects of Tea and its health benefits, but he can put together any kind of bespoke order especially for you.

tea hamper from Northern Tea Merchants

The ex salt works building on the Chatsworth Road (S40 2BA) houses twenty-three employees all in all, and a popular cafe is situated to the front. Trade Customers of The Northern Tea Merchants include vast and varied members of the hospitality industry and the public sector.

Northern Tea Merchants is a business that has been a favourite of tss, since the year we started the online publicizing of prestigious reviews of consumer products.

Next time, James, let’s do coffee, but in the meantime congratulations on being a deserving Business of the Month.

By Debra Hall Feature/Product Writer – (Editor of tssreviews.com)

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