When it comes to talking tea, few come as passionate as Bharat Chudasama, Commercial Director and Tea Master of Hope & Glory Tea, the Hertfordshire-based company he founded with his wife Nina two years ago.
Since then, their 100 % organic, whole leaf, premium speciality teas have been embraced by some of Britain’s most discriminating hotels. These include the 5-star Waldorf Hilton in Covent Garden, London and Pride of Britain Hotels, the prestigious consortium of privately owned luxury hotels up and down the UK. An impressive achievement, no doubt, but for a couple driven to transform the nation’s approach to tea, it’s only the beginning.
‘At Hope & Glory, our ethos is about bringing great quality tea to every single tea lover,’ says Bharat. ‘Tea is still Britain’s favourite drink by far, but we’d like to make sure that it stays that way. For us, the best way to make this happen is to educate people so that they demand only the best tea. Hoteliers have an important role to play in this process, by serving a product that in its superior taste, flavour and aroma, but also provenance and sustainability, matches the positive image they wish their property and brand to project.’
The Chudasamas gave up full-time jobs in the corporate world, Bharat in pharmaceuticals and Nina in IT, to travel the world in search of the best teas they could find. All of Hope & Glory’s teas and tea blends are hand-picked from tea gardens and plantations that these self-confessed ‘devoteas’ have personally selected and in most cases visited themselves. In line with Hope & Glory’s strong ethical and sustainability ethos, Bharat and Nina will only source their teas from growers who are members of the Ethical Tea Partnership, and they are also fully paid up members of the Fairtrade movement.
In fact, Nina, who is CEO of Hope & Glory, recently arrived from visiting a tea garden in Sri Lanka so remote and isolated that for miles around there were virtually no other signs of human habitation. It demonstrates the lengths and depths the company will go to find great tea. There are currently eleven varieties in the Hope & Glory Tea range, including the Great Taste Award starred English Breakfast Tea and Masala Chai, their signature Red Velvet infusion, Jasmine, Earl Grey and Green Tea.
Bharat believes that the time has come for hoteliers and F&B managers to take tea as seriously as they do their wine lists, adopting an attitude to tea that not only enhances but spreads commercial benefits beyond the quintessential, and lucrative, Afternoon Tea offering.
Bharat points out that the best tea is after all like the best wine. ‘Like wine, it all starts with the terroir,’ he says. ‘That is, the land and the region, environment, including the climate, in which tea is grown. Like wine, how and when the tea is harvested and processed is also important. These are all factors that affect the overall quality of the tea.’
Many are still unaware that the size and quality of the tea leaves used to make a cup of tea can also make a huge difference.
‘At Hope & Glory, we only use whole, loose leaf teas, not the micro-particles of highly processed tea, what you call dustings or fannings that you normally find in ordinary tea bags. The more whole the leaf, the richer and more complex the flavour and notes, or aroma. Now more than ever too, there is evidence that the better quality the tea, the better its health benefits. Great tea makes winners of us all, and for hotels it also makes real commercial sense.’
Now that Hope & Glory is the exclusive tea partner of the Waldorf Hilton, Chudasama is pleased that he and Nina will be able to work with General Manager Guy Hilton to help the hotel convey its knowledge of tea to its guests. Because, Bharat firmly points out, working with Hope & Glory offers much more than a good tea list.
He refers to his background in the international corporate world as an additional asset. ‘I understand the P&L’s and all the operational requirements a business has. I understand what a General Manager needs. But I also understand that if I’m an Operations Director or an F&B Manager, there are implications we need to think about when introducing something new to clients and guests. How will it affect other functions, such as back of house? Training, service, attention to detail in terms of utensils and teaware are all key to get things right. And the fact of introducing great tea to enhance the tea experience for guests must form part of the overall commercial strategy. It’s also about providing true value in every aspect of your business. In this way, Hope & Glory is in a unique position to help hotels.’
In the end, it boils down to raising guest expectations of their tea. ‘I did say that the we need to get people to start demanding the best tea can be. If hotels can go on this journey with us, letting their guests know by their superior tea offering that it’s just not good enough to serve tea that isn’t the best in taste, flavour and aroma, that isn’t the most environmentally friendly, that doesn’t have great health benefits, then we can make a real difference in consumers’ approach to the tea. Together, we can be the pioneers.’
Written by Gina McAdam
If you are a tea lover here’s a date for your diary – Hope & Glory Tea will be holding tea tastings at H&C EXPO at the Celtic Manor Resort on 17 and 18 July 2018.
For more information click here