STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 3, Number 4

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Page 15 of 75

16 STiR tea & coffee industry international LONDON, UK - Australian tea retailer T2, founded in 1996 by Maryanne Shearer and acquired by Unilever in September 2013, opened its first store in the UK in April. The decision to launch the company in the buzzy, slightly edgy, ethnically mixed east London neighborhood of Shoreditch, instead of in one of the city's better-known central locations, makes complete sense. The district is a hub of unusual restaurants and cafes, trendy bars, exclusive food stores, fashion shops, and art galleries, and T2 is steadily busy with a tide of customers drawn in by the riotous colors of the tea packs, pots, cups, and caddies set irresistibly against a minimalist décor of shiny black reflective surfaces. Locals are inquisitive, curious, always looking out for interesting new businesses and products, and so wander easily in and out of shops to find out more, ask questions, be a part of the local vibe. Once inside, this new T2 store has an overwhelming, almost magnetic hold which captivates and draws customers into a journey of discovery – past small display tins of more than 200 teas and herbals just inside the door, then between tall narrow stacks of tea labeled in bright colors with clear information about what's in the pack (white, green, loose, tea bags, organic, flavored, blended, tisane, etc) and on to the very depths of the shop where walls are lined with an infinite choice of brewing and drinking equipage in every possible style – oriental, traditional English flowers, glass, silver, porcelain, pottery, iron, pots, bowls, glasses, scoops, storage tins, strainers, infusers, books, cards, and more. And in case of confusion, large white arrows indicate the way to the different sections of this magical tea land where unsuspecting visitors discover a new eagerness and excitement at the prospect of drinking tea. T2 brings a sense of excitement and stylish luxury to tea drinking and the format and ambiance of the Shoreditch store encourages customers to explore and learn. "A lot of our customers are already very well informed about tea", says Kate Solly, the company's international operations manager, who has been brought over from Melbourne to oversee activities in the UK. "They know what they like and understand about different tea types," she said. Less well-informed but fascinated customers are offered a chance to taste the teas of the day, which sit ready on the counter, or can have a range of teas brewed specially for them by staff before deciding what they would like to purchase to take home. As Solly explains, "We are converting a lot of non tea-drinkers by offering them the chance to try flavored teas or iced teas. That then gives them the confidence and interest to try other types as well." And the list of possible purchases offers an impressively wide range – from elegant Silver Needles through rare yellow Meng Ding Huang Ya; Japanese and Chinese classic green and scented greens blended with such flavorings as quince, vanilla, jasmine, rose, and tropical fruits; hand-woven flowering tea; Chinese and Taiwanese oolong; flavored oolong; more than 40 black and flavored black teas; Puerhs, herbals and florals; fruit tisanes; and rooibos. T2's First UK Store NEWS By Jane Pettigrew

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