Big Hospitality – Boom in global tea culture to bring teahouses to UK high streetsCamellia's Tea House
“Ajit Madan, owner of Camellia’s Tea House and the UK’s first accredited tea sommelier is predicting the rise of the teahouse on the UK’s high streets as renewed interest in the hot beverage grows among consumers.
While traditional tea rooms have made way for coffee shops on our high streets, Madan, who was appointed the UK’s first ITEI Certified Master Tea Sommelier by the International Tea Education Institute earlier this year, believes the tables will be turning back in tea’s favour over the next three to five years as the UK follows global trends in its consumption.
He said: “The latest Mintel reports on tea and coffee show that on a global basis tea consumption is increasingly rapidly at the expense of coffee consumption and it’s partly because people are becoming aware of the health benefits of tea.
“In the US green tea has been classified as a superfood – it’s up there with blueberries and goji berries – because of all the high levels of antioxidants it contains.
“There is a massive demand from the US consumer for things that promote health and well-being. Also, as people get older they can get less tolerant of coffee and don’t want that massive caffeine hit, so people are moving away from that and drinking different types of tea.
“There has also been a massive boom in tea culture around the world tying in with the renaissance of all things vintage. Going for tea with friends and pouring it out of beautiful tea pots is very cool again.
he US is, of course a key indicator of what could happen in the UK in three to five years’ time. Starbucks demonstrated its confidence in the market with the acquisition of tea business Teavana in 2013 and in the US now tea consumption is growing while coffee consumption is stagnating.
While quality, loose leaf tea remains at the heart of the afternoon tea offering in the UK’s luxury hotels, for those who want to drink the same without the ceremony on the high street there is currently little option, says Madan, although the arrival of Rainbow Apartments’ Tea 42 in Manchester and chef Simon Hulstone’s venture into tearooms in Torquay show that there is some movement in this area.
“There’s a void in the market for somewhere you can go and have a medium-priced afternoon tea that isn’t around the formality of a hotel,” he said.
“I’d like Camellia’s Tea House to fill that gap and become the well-known teahouse brand and become the go-to place for tea culture and tea drinking in London and then the rest of the UK.”
Madan, who has been operating Camellia’s Tea House from a site in Kingly Court in Covent Garden, is working with a franchise investor who is keen to expand the brand.
The company, which also runs a wholesale business supplying hotels, is currently looking for a new site in London as its current one will close on 5 May. Once that is secured, Madan plans to roll the brand out and open sites where he will serve quality loose-leaf teas sourced from across the world alongside cakes and snacks.
He said: “We have been looking at places in Notting Hill and Covent Garden for our flagship site. We’d like to open two this year if we can find the right sites, but it isn’t easy.
“If we can find the right locations then we’ll open two sites this year, see how those go and then expand out to three to five next year.”
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