In conversation with Maranda Barnes, co-founder of TWG Tea
(Maranda Barnes Co-founder TWG Tea)
Characters to each of the tea blends
There are stories behind every tea, and every tea we create is inspired by a different memory or idea that has caught our attention or marked us in some way. For example, the Weekend Tea Collection, which consists of 10 different tea blends, was conceived to celebrate local tea cultures as well as the global heritage of tea appreciation. Each of these travel sized tea tins embody the sights, sounds and smells evoked by a different city, so that each blend will take you away on a unique voyage. Blends such as the Weekend in Casablanca Tea – a blend of green and black tea with a complex fruity bouquet accented by notes of wild mints – does exactly the trick to inspire the senses!
The delight that’s TWG
From the brand’s inception, we have always been interested in how we could best communicate the quality of otherwise pretty nondescript dried tea leaves to our customers. This fascination pervades the entire TWG Tea experience, from the design of our tea salons and boutiques to the service. But most importantly, we have always wanted our packaging design to be on the same level as the quality of the tea inside. It’s important to strike a balance, to ensure that customers’ expectations are always exceeded. Every detail should delight the senses. But the lasting enjoyment should come from the tea itself.
Gathering the leaves
TWG Tea is Asia’s first international luxury tea brand and has the largest tea list in the world with over 800 single estate teas and exclusive blends. Over the course of our business, we have cultivated exclusive relationships with tea growers worldwide and this ensures us exclusive access to harvests from renowned gardens. It also allows us to better invest in new processing methods to maintain the quality as well as create new and better teas.
Source for inspiration
Research and development do play a key role, although I would venture to say that travel is the best source of new ideas. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places – from the exquisite flavours of a new dish, to the aromas of a Moroccan souk, to the style and fashion trends of a New York catwalk… each voyage invariably translates into an outpouring of new ideas for tea blends, packaging and tea-infused gastronomy.
For example, our Iced Teabag Collection was the work of two years of intense development. We wanted to create not only a teabag that was fresh and inviting, but a packaging that was evocative of a cold glass on a hot day. The result – gorgeous drawers reminiscent of chiselled ice cubes filled with transparent silken teabags – has taken the tea industry by storm.
The tea drinker’s profile
The beautiful thing about tea is that it is native to Asia and everyone in Asia is born with a proverbial cup of tea. There is most definitely a growing preference for premium teas, with gourmet and luxury tea consumption increasing with rising affluence in consumers who have travelled internationally, tasted different types of cuisine and developed a palate keen to appreciate the most refinedand subtle intricacies in flavour.
Gourmet tea is also growing among the new and younger generation. They are now choosing to conduct business meetings over a pot of tea. Tea pastries are also more popular as an accompaniment to the beverage, with TWG Tea’s tea-infused creations bringing a unique and exclusive offering from the brand.
The popular ones
Every tea that we launch in our Haute Couture Tea Collection is an instant success – Silver Moon Tea, 1837 Black Tea, Singapore Breakfast Tea, French Earl Grey, just to name a few – as they offer exceptional quality whole leaf teas, expertly blended and packaged as would be an exquisite perfume.
Most recently, TWG Tea added a new collection of handselected tea masterpieces to its ever-expanding arsenal. The Grand Fine Harvest Tea Collection consists of eight of the world’s most precious single-estate harvest teas, each representing the pinnacle of quality within its distinct tea-producing region and variety. This collection is a highlight of the world’s most memorable and influential single-estate harvest teas, each encased in the most luxurious hand-blown glass flasks, specially curated by TWG Tea’s unrivalled team of Tea Connoisseurs. In addition, TWG Tea also constantly re-invents itself every season, with the launch of new products to celebrate significant festivals and holidays. The latest being Christmas Jewel Tea for the Yuletide season. Handcrafted using the finest quality ingredients, the tea presents an enchanting composition of green tea, festive spices, sweet orange and jasmine pearls plated with 24ct gold.
The success story
The success of the brand and it’s very rapid expansion are certainly due to the uniqueness of the concept, timing, the absolute quality and consistency of all of our products, the constant innovation and creation of new products enticing customers back on a regular basis and finally, a true correlation between quality and price. We have always aimed to become the international tea institution and reference point, which today does not exist in the market. The youth, energy, experience, vision and talent of our team, have also vastly contributed to our success.