A British company introducing their range of teas to India might seem like trying to sell coals to Newcastle. For Pukka tea co-founder Tim Westwell, in the city, this week to introduce his line of herbal teas to the Indian market, it’s more like a homecoming. “The initial idea for our business was to bring some of the extensive herbal knowledge that India has to the West, in the form of herbal teas,” Westwell says. “Now it has come full circle, and we’re ready to launch the teas in the country that inspired them.”
Pukka tea started in the spare room of Westwell’s flat in Bristol, UK, emerging from a collaboration between former IT sales and marketing professional Westwell, and trained ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioner Sebastian Pole. Fast forward 12 years, and the business now employs 75 people in Bristol, has produced over 15 million boxes of herbal tea, and sells its products in over 30 countries.
The guiding philosophy of the company comes back to its name: Pukka. “We aspire to be pukka in everything that we do,” explains Westwell. In practice, this means that all of their ingredients are grown organically, and that herbs are carefully tested for their essential oil content before they are used. From field mint sourced from small farmers in Uttar Pradesh to licorice from Khazakstan and lavender from Spain, Pukka works with producers worldwide to bring together the best herbs. Once they are collected and pass quality assurance tests, they are blended and united in the tea bag, ready to be enjoyed.
The Pukka tea range has been developed to balance the properties of various herbs, creating infusions that not only smell good, but also taste delicious. Their peppermint and licorice tea is pleasantly sweet, while the vanilla chai blends cinnamon, cardamom and ginger with fresh vanilla pods to create a rounded taste with a warming sensation.
There are also health benefits as we discovered. “We’re providing tools for people to live a healthier and happier life,” says Westwell. “Our range is good for people with diabetes, or those who want to reduce their intake of milk, sugar and caffeine.” More specifically, you can pick up the night time tea if you’re having trouble sleeping, sip on ‘revitalise’ if you need a pick-me-up, or try the cleansing tea to combat skin problems. We particularly enjoyed the three mint blend, which included peppermint, spearmint and field mint, meant to soothe digestive problems.
Whichever flavour you choose, each box comes with 20 individually wrapped sachets, making them perfect for a cup of tea on the go. “Ultimately we want the tea to be convenient so everyone can enjoy it,” explains Westwell. “It’s our way of re-connecting busy people with nature,” he concludes.
Available at Nilgiris stores citywide. `350 upwards.
—Maegan Dobson Sippy