Where Did the name TEA23 come from? And other FAQs

Welcome back to my blog. So… I wonder what we’re going to be talking about today?

Actually, before I begin, I just want to emphasise that everything is written by me, and that nothing has been generated by ChatGPT or any other AI. I’m a firm believer in keeping it human and real. Plus, I find writing pretty enjoyable and at times therapeutic.

In this blog I’m going to answer as honestly as possible questions that I’m most frequently asked when I’m out and about at events and markets across Sussex and Kent.

First up…

How did you get into tea?

I really could go into a lot of detail on this one, but to save you from my version of War and Peace, I’ll give you the abridged narrative. I was working for EDF Energy as a Campaigns Executive back in the day and they were about to merge with British Energy (I think that was the name), which meant I had to reapply for my job (for the record I was successful).

However, during the process I started to look for new jobs and saw an advertisement for a Communications Manager for the Ethical Tea Partnership. I’ve always loved a cup of tea and I thought it would allow me to utilise both my undergraduate Environmental Science degree and my Marketing Masters. And the rest as they say is history.

Where did you get the name TEA23 from?

Originally, when I started planning the company, I was living in Brighton and I registered Brighton Tea Company Ltd with Companies House. I honestly thought that would be the name of my company forever.  

However, during the planning and set up phase, I knew that my blend of English Breakfast Tea would have to be supremely good if my tea company was going to be successful. I had this flavour profile in my head (I literally could taste it) and I wasn’t prepared to stop until it was perfected. Suffice to say it took 23 attempts to do it. I reckon we nailed it.

It’s a beautiful blend of teas from Assam (India), Rwanda, and Sri Lanka. It’s rich and malty and is the perfect cuppa at breakfast time and throughout the day with or without milk. I get loads of positive feedback about it, which 100% fills me with joy. I love it.

Do you blend the teas yourself?

I don’t actually do the blending myself for a few reasons. The blends (recipes) are my ideas and I use a blending house to create them. TEA23 is a small company. When I started I was running it from my mum’s residential property. It would have been nearly impossible to do the blending myself and I certainly didn’t have the space to store all the teas and ingredients that go into the blends.

Also, organising, importing, and doing all the paperwork and getting the teas into the country would just be too time consuming for one person. Back then I took the ‘executive decision’ to utilise a blending company. I have a great relationship with them and one other importer, and if I’m honest, I see no reason to change things. 

I really rely on their knowledge and expertise. They have decades of tea buying and tasting experience between them, which you can’t simply gain overnight. They’re fundamental to the success of TEA23 and I lean on them heavily for insight and advice. 

Going back to the blends. I pretty much came up with all the blend ideas by myself. The one I can’t take credit for is Chamomile & Pear. Prior to launch, I said to the blending house that I personally find Chamomile a bit meh, and they came up with this amazing fruit tea. I love it and it’s extremely popular with customers. One of things I like about it is that if you forget to drink it it's really nice cold. I don’t have trouble sleeping at night so I don’t turn to it that often, but a lot of my customers say that it helps them to get to sleep and stay asleep. You get more for your money buying it loose, but I also recommend getting it in tea bags as making a pot of tea at night can be a bit of a faff.

Mint is another one I recommend in tea bags because you can keep topping it up. I guess the same can be said for Red Berry too.

Where are your teas from?

The majority of my teas are from Africa (Rwanda and Kenya) and Asia (India, Sri lanka, China, and Japan). Many of the ingredients for the fruit and herbal infusions are from Europe. 

What’s your favourite tea?

I really love my blend of English Breakfast Tea. I probably have at least 5 cups a day. I also drink a lot of Earl Grey Tea in summer and Aromatic Chai in autumn and winter.

The first green teas I stocked were the Yunnan Green Tea and the Lungching Green Tea - both from China and both really tasty. I simply adore the Jade Oolong and my favourite fruit / herbal tea currently is Sweet Lemon & Ginger. It also makes a beautiful iced tea infusion in the summer.

Slamming Orange is also really versatile (that always sounds pretentious when I say it ‘aloud’). It’s great hot or cold, with and without honey, and over ice on hot sunny days. I’m pretty sure you could turn it into jelly too although I haven’t tried it. But, I have used it as the base ingredient for drizzle icing on a lemon polenta style cake and it was delicious.

Do you drink all your blends?

I drink a lot of them, but if I’m honest not all. But this is to do with taste preference and not quality. For example, I do a lot of cooking and one of the spices I avoid is smoked paprika. I just find it so overpowering. Relating this back to tea, I guess my palate isn’t aligned to Lapsang Souchong, but I’m beginning to get my head around it. I mean I like it, but I’m not in LOVE with it like I am with my English Breakfast Tea and others.

The other one that I don’t drink a lot of is Elderflower & Rose green tea, again because my palate isn’t suited to rose. However, it’s a really popular tea and has been ever since I did taste tests with friends prior to launch. I think it would be arrogant to only include blends and ingredients that only suit my taste.

Plus, I now stock a lot of different teas, blends, and infusions so it would be hard to drink all of them on a daily basis. Like I said, taste is personal, so there is no wrong or right answer. Just individual preferences and choices. It would be boring if we all liked the same thing.

Are your tea bags made out of plastic?

Okay, so I might have to update this in the future, because I’m doing this all from the top of my head without the help of product specification sheets or compliance notes.

So, TEA23 uses tetrahedral style tea bags. Better known as pyramid tea bags or the ‘posh ones’. 

The mesh and thread are a polylactic acid (PLA). This is a biopolymer made from vegetable starch (more specifically corn starch). The tag is made from paper. And all these materials are compostable (okay, I did refer to some notes). That said, I do want to be 100% transparent. Although these are made out of natural materials, they are officially a bio plastic. However, unlike traditional plastics that are made out of non-renewable fossil fuels, bioplastics are more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

I’m currently testing how well they biodegrade in a compost heap and a hole in the ground (that’s my Environmental Science degree kicking in). I do know that they require heat for them to break down more quickly and easily, so I would recommend sending them to a commercial composter. I think that’s the brown waste bin (you’ll need to check with your local authority)?!

Where are you based?

This is a nice quick one. Eastbourne, East Sussex. I have a unit at the Enterprise Shopping Centre (next to Eastbourne train station).

Do you have a shop?

I don’t have a shop, but people pop by all the time and buy tea from me (my unit is upstairs in the Enterprise Shopping Centre). It’s worth calling in advance and placing your order so I can get it ready.

Everything is packed to order. I don’t have a lot of space so I don't hold a lot of pre-packed items. Plus, people quite often bring their tins and containers with them so I can refill them, which reduces packaging. They also save 10% on tea when they refill. It’s a win win. 

Like I said, it’s best to call to ensure I’m in: 01323 885233 (ask for Jon).

Do you own the business / is it part of a franchise?

I own 100% of the business. It makes me smile that people think it’s part of a larger franchise because it gives the illusion of grandeur. I’m currently the only person employed by my company, but hopefully in the not too distant future I’ll be able to start employing people. Most likely on a part time basis to begin with. Some company and help would be amazing!

Are you fully independent?

TEA23 is 100% independent and 100% self-funded. I launched it on a metaphorical shoestring. I do love the autonomy this gives me, but it is hard running a business by yourself. There have been times when I would have loved a business partner - mainly to bounce ideas around and to have someone else that you can 100% rely on. We’ll see. If you’re a potential investor, please get in touch - lol.  

Are you a tea buyer / taster?

[To be clear, this isn’t strictly a question I get asked a lot, but I wanted it to clarify it anyway because it’s a huge part of why I experience imposter syndrome].

I’m not a tea taster or a tea buyer. My first introduction into the world of tea was via sustainability and the Ethical Tea Partnership. So to be 100% clear, I’m not a trained tea taster - I'm currently enjoying amateur status.

But, I did work in the world of hospitality for quite a few years (full and part time) in some really good bars and restaurants in Brighton and London. I also love cooking and have been told I’m good at it. I like to think I have a good palate and understand what tastes good and what flavours work well together, which is ideal for creating new blends.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m learning all the time and I really encourage you to join me on this journey. I’m going to make lots of mistakes so I’m sure it will be a roller coaster ride and quite fun / funny at times!

Is your English Breakfast Tea the best tea in the world / multiverse?

YES ;)

Okay, so off the top of my head that’s all the questions I can think of. If I think of any more I’ll either add them to this page or I'll create an FAQs section on the site. If there is anything you want to ask me directly about TEA23, then feel free to get in touch via the contacts page or by emailing me

Hopefully there'll be a new post next week about why a mask featured heavily on my first round of packaging - watch this space.

Thanks for reading and stay safe. 

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