Canny Jack’s new tea

Northumberland tea

One of the most famous footballers to come from the north-east of England has appeared in support of a new ‘regional’ tea brand – Jack Charlton, star of the country’s only team to win the World Cup, has become the public face of Northumberland Tea. With a rather neat tag line, he is quoted as calling it ‘the best cup since 1966’!

The concept of ‘regional’ tea has been used regularly in recent years – the first and most successful use of the strategy remains Yorkshire Tea, produced by Taylors of Harrogate. However, it is now possible to find Lancashire Tea and even Welsh Tea.

The Northumberland version is created by local people Bill and Helen Logan with James Pogson, who says that the product is not just any old black tea, but features a distinct advantage over certain other ‘everyday’ teas.

The blend is largely Kenyan, with a secondary proportion of Assam, and a minor amount of Ceylon – these are the constituents of the classic English Breakfast blend. However, says James Pogson, the big difference with this tea is that the ingredients are those three teas, and nothing else.

“The blend we use is a classic blend that was used successfully by many tea companies since the advent of the tea bag in the early 1960s,” he says. “But if you were to buy a few boxes of various brand leaders’ tea, and tore open their tea bags, you would see that there is a proportion of off-grade ‘reducers’ that are in there to keep the costs of the tea down.

“These teas are often from poorer African countries, although Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil also produce teas that are cheap enough to bring the cost of a blend down without significantly altering the look of it in the cup, but the taste will be just noticeable. These types of reducers are used at up to 30 per cent by some of the well-known brands.

“We are committed to the non-use of reducers, thereby providing our customers with a better quality, more ‘honest’ blend of teas.”

The personality who appears on the packs is one of the most recognisable English footballers, who is another local man, and a friend of the tea marketeers. The product will also support a cause with another north-eastern footballing connection, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation – a donation is made for every box of tea sold. The first box of Northumberland Tea to come off the production line was presented to Sir Bobby’s widow, Lady Robson.

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This story, by Boughton’s Coffee House magazine, has also appeared on the Caffe Culture news portal, the news website linked to the coffee trade’s main exhibition. www.caffeculture.com

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