Pleased to support the Air Ambulance Service at The Landing Pad

We are delighted that one of our favourite charities, the Air Ambulance Service, has opened a cafe ‘The Landing Pad’ in Somercotes, alongside its superstore, ‘The Hangar’. We’re proud to supply them with our award winning teas and coffees, and we have worked closely with them to get their blends perfect!

The Air Ambulance Service operates the national Children’s Air Ambulance and the local air ambulance services for Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland. Their vision is clear. They want children to grow into adults, they want adults to live longer and they want bereavement through trauma to become rare. Each of their services works tirelessly to save lives and alleviate sickness, wherever and whenever possible. Find out more about The Landing Pad and Hangar here.

Northern Tea Merchants 2018 roundup

As we come to the end of another busy and amazing year we thought it would be good to pull together a round up of this year to celebrate all of our achievements, successes and trips.

Thank you as always to all of our amazing customers for your support again we really couldn’t do it without you.

January – We had the most incredible start to the year with our visit to China to take part in the 15th China Global Tea Fair. We were there to spread the word about how the face of tea in the UK is changing. James was also asked to join an international panel of consultants to give advice to Chinese companies who need to navigate the minefield of exporting teas to the UK tea market.

February – Northern Tea Merchants got a mention in a brand-new book – Secret Chesterfield by Richard Bradley which is packed full of tales of remarkable people, unusual events, local folklore, delicacies and tucked away historical buildings in the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield where our HQ is based.

March – Northern Tea Merchants’ James Pogson, was named Chesterfield Champion of the Week. We’re proud to be based in Chesterfield and we recognise that a lot of what we do is made possible by being based in this brilliant town, so it was an honour to be able to share our passion in the Derbyshire Times.

April – In celebration of UK Coffee Week we launched a competition to win a hamper containing our: Detarra Sweet Yellow Coffee, Indian Monsooned Malabar, Sumatra Lintong Coffee, Colombian Medellin Excelso Coffee, Fairtrade Colombian Expocafe Coffee and Kenya Blue Mountain Coffee!

May – We got shortlisted in the Chesterfield Retail Awards for both Retailer and Food & Drink Retailer of the Year! Organised by Destination Chesterfield, the event celebrates excellence in Chesterfield’s retail sector – keep reading for the result!

JuneWe won! Northern Tea Merchants was officially named Chesterfield’s Food & Drink retailer of the year. We were thrilled to accept the award for the second year running and want to share congratulations to the other 15 businesses that also took home awards that night.

July – We got yet another glowing mention from The Sticky Beak blog recommending our afternoon tea! Read the article here.

August – We were lucky enough to visit Peru during August 2018 on a mission to find the best cocoa and coffee suppliers available. We embarked on 20-hour flights, treacherous roads and met several very important people in the hot drink world and Peru – all in the name of good beans!

September – A lot had been going on behind the scenes on our website in 2018… And in September we finally got to lift the veil on our brand-new website! We hope you like the new design – take a look and explore our huge range of delicious blends.

October – The Pekoe Café at Northern Tea Merchants’ cake supplier, The Bakehouse – cakes, pies, puds has been recognised with a Great Taste Award! We already knew just how wonderful The Bakehouse’s cakes are from the rave reviews they receive from our happy customers.

November – We were delighted to take part yet again in the Festival of Christmas Trees at the world famous Crooked Spire. This year was back bigger than ever with over 100 beautifully decorated trees from local businesses, charities and community groups on display at the festival.

December – Very privileged to have received a Christmas card which enclosed two invites to China for March and November 2019, from Mr Cai Jun (who is responsible for all of the tea in China!) and Prof. Yu Lu (Head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce).

Finally we have packed just shy of 40 tonnes of tea, coffee and drinking chocolates this month or will have done by Friday 21 December!!

 

Personally I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the staff here at Northern Tea Merchants who have worked extremely hard to make this happen and wish that you all enjoy a well-deserved break. Also, to all of our customers who continue to support us and make these figures possible. With warmest festive best wishes to you all – here’s to 2019!

Traditional Yorkshire Cooking with Mrs Simkins

My dear friend Sue Simkins has written yet another book. I first met Sue in 2010 when she wrote her fantastic cookbook called ‘Cooking with Mrs Simkins’, which I highly recommend you get a copy of if you haven’t already got it. Since then we’ve communicated regularly and I’m always impressed with Sue’s attitude to life, her cooking abilities, her engaging style of writing and the passion which she skilfully enthuses into her books.

Traditional Yorkshire Cooking with Mrs Simkins

Sue’s latest opus is called ‘Traditional Yorkshire Cooking with Mrs Simkins’ and although I am from Derbyshire and proud of it. I have already used a couple of her recipes from this book to great effect even though I am ‘ova the border’. I think my favourite recipe in this book is the Christmas Tap Room Loaf (pages 56 & 57) and apparently, this recipe featured in the Yorkshire WI Recipe of 1957 and at 61 years old, I must say it is an absolute classic.

A traditional Yorkshire pastime is to consume fruit cake or fruit loaf with mature cheese and it is one of my favourite naughty pleasures. I was sent a copy of the book about 2 weeks ago and baked this that weekend and when I went out to purchase the ingredients I also made sure to buy ½ a pound of the maturest cheddar I could find on Deli counter. Really easy to cook, particularly with Sue’s easy to follow recipe format and I must say everything worked out perfectly and I was able to make a 2lb tin and 1lb tin filled with this. The 1lb tin I gave to my 88 year old next door neighbour who also hugely enjoyed it. It’s also delicious with butter and Golden Syrup.

There are 65 delicious north country recipes in this wonderful book, it runs to 123 pages and it retails at just £5.99. It’s published by Dalesman (www.dalesman.co.uk) who are based in the gatehouse of Skipton Castle and is well worth adding to your recipe bookshelf and most importantly using!

Peru Coffee and Cocoa Buyers Mission August 2018

My August trip to Peru was one of the most interesting and also, most arduous trips that I have been on in the last few years.

I arrived in Lima mid-afternoon on the 3rd August and transferred to a hotel after travelling for approximately 20 hours (I can’t sleep on planes) so was ready for a rest… Therefore, after setting up the Wi-Fi and starting to download work emails I was able to get an early night and woke early on the 4th feeling refreshed and after clearing the emails that had cropped up after breakfast was ready for the day ahead.

I then left to travel to Lima Airport to meet the remainder of the group at the airport. PromPeru had arranged for us to stay in a hotel near the airport, as we were up at 1:30am the following morning to fly to Piura at 3am, which is a 1 hour 20 minute flight. Arriving at Piura and collecting our luggage we all then embarked on a minibus and drove (largely in silence as everyone was so tired) to our first meeting of the day. This was a coffee co-operative who were expanding and building a whole new coffee sorting and grading facility which will be a state of the art operation when complete. After visiting this site which was hugely interesting we were whisked away for a late breakfast / early lunch which every member of the group devoured heartily.

Then the group split with people who were there more for cocoa staying locally and the coffee group heading up into the Andes to meet coffee growers, estates and co-operatives. Over the next few days, our group consisted of eight, including the driver, and the majority of the journey over the next three days was on dirt tracks with no road signs, street lighting and on roads which often had been washed and was in bad disrepair. As these roads wound up into the Andes I was glad that I wasn’t sitting in the front, which apparently awarded a view of some of the sheer drops and crevasses which our front tyres went perilously close too. However probably one of the biggest scares of the trip was when we met five full size Kenworth Petrol tankers with huge bowsers on the back full of fuel, just as we were on probably the narrowest stretch of road we had been on. It was a case of a) drive off the edge of the cliff, b) become part of the rock face or c) reverse around several blind corners about a mile to find somewhere just wide enough to let the vehicles pass. Needless to say at the end of the trip everyone who had spent time on the bus gave a decent tip to William, our driver.

Mountain roads notwithstanding, the producers that we were privilege to meet over these three grueling days were excellent and I am certain that every buyer in our group has done some deal or other with these producers, particularly those who are looking for quality coffees. It was with some relief for my aching bones when we met up with the rest of the group who had been on a chocolate mission whilst we were up in hills doing coffee. We were all taken to a couple of very small gourmet chocolate makers whose chocolates were divine and then once the other groups luggage had been collected from the hotel we were ready to fly again. We left Piura and flew to Lima and onwards to a place Pucallpa.

With everybody in the group being a buyer of either coffee or cocoa we were then taken the following morning to a massive exhibition called Expo Amazonica, at which we were VIP guests. The event is of such importance in Peru that the President and EVERY Governor of every region in Peru’s Democratic Republic were on stage for the opening ceremony which took about an hour, as every dignitary made a short speech. The security was incredibly tight, as you can probably imagine. Whilst all of this was going on I was located on the ‘Cafes de Peru’ stand which overlooked the auditorium. The president very kindly decided to visit the stand and the accompanying rush and crush as they followed the President, shouting and cheering, was unlike anything I have ever witnessed before. In the midst of the maelstrom was the President surrounded by his security team and I was swept up and carried along within the crowd. I was able to shake the President’s hand and wish him a polite ‘Good Afternoon’. After five brief minutes it was time for him to move onto other stands within the exhibition and the crowd happily subsided somewhat. I found myself talking to a very affable bearded gentlemen about what I thought of Peru and where I had been and after we exchanged business cards I was delighted to learn I was chatting with the Foreign Trade Minister, Sr Rogers Martin Valencia Espinoza, which was nice!

After spending the day looking around the exhibition and meeting further new suppliers of coffee, cocoa, salt, cigars, oil, lorries etc, which represent just some of the enormous variety of Peruvian businesses which were showcased at this huge exhibition.

That evening we returned to our hotel and spent a quiet evening catching up on our notes and getting an early night due to the fact that our return flight from Pucallpa to Lima was 4:30am. So we were out of bed at 2am and after being driven through the deserted streets, checking in and clearing security, we arrived at the front of Lima airport ready to disperse back to the various corners of the world we had come from, at about 7:30am.

All in all, in spite of the enormous amounts of road and air travelling that this trip involved it was all worth it to see some of the many amazing wonders that Peru has to offer.

 

 

 

Northern Tea Merchants is Chesterfield’s Food & Drink Retailer of the Year 2018

We did it! Northern Tea Merchants has been officially named as Chesterfield´s Food and Drink Retailer of the Year. This is the second year running we have won the prestigious title and we´re thrilled.

The award was clinched at the 2018 Chesterfield Retail Awards held on Wednesday 13 June at the town’s Winding Wheel.

And, of course, we weren’t the only winners on the night. Eleven business took home 15 awards at the glittering back tie awards, which were hosted by Peak FM’s breakfast show presenters Ricky and Becky.

Our Chatsworth Road neighbours, Blanc & Blanc Occasions and Dotique, were named Fashion and Footwear Retailer of the Year and Best Newcomer of the Year respectively, but the main title – Retailer of the Year – went to Specsavers Chesterfield.

Unfortunately, James Pogson, Director at Northern Tea Merchants was unable to attend, so Tracey Wallis from the Pekoe Café stepped in to accept the award on his behalf.

James commented: “It’s an honour to even be shortlisted in these awards as Chesterfield has such a thriving retail sector. To be able to come away with the Food and Drink Retailer award again is immense.

“Congratulations to my fellow Chatsworth Road winners and a big thank you to the team at Northern Tea Merchants for all your hard work, everybody that nominated us and all our customers past, present and future.”

If you don’t get the chance to call into the shop, remember you can purchase Northern Tea Merchants tea, coffee and cocoa online here.

Find the full list of Chesterfield Retail Award 2018 winners here.

Successful coffee quest for Peak FM breakfast show presenters

Who better to choose a ‘wake-up´ coffee than the presenters of Peak FM´s breakfast show, Ricky and Becky?

Regular 4am risers, Ricky and Becky visited Northern Tea Merchants Pekoe Café to try out a couple of coffees recommended by our own James Pogson. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be there as he was in deepest, darkest Peru sourcing new coffees and cocoa for next year (more about that in the next newsletter). However, Tracey Wallis, Manager of The Pekoe Café at Northern Tea Merchants stepped in to educate Ricky and Becky to the delights of freshly ground coffee.

The visit was part of the publicity trail for the Chesterfield Retail Awards 2018. Ricky and Becky are hosting this year’s black-tie awards ceremony at the Winding Wheel on Wednesday 13 June.

During the visit, an Indian Monsoon Malabar and a Brazilian French Roast Coffee were put to the test by the radio duo. Becky, who is a self-confessed coffee addict and Ricky who considers himself more of a tea drinker, were both won over by the Medium Roast Indian Monsoon Malabar served black. However, the addition of milk to the stronger Brazilian French Roast transformed the drink and proved a winning combination for Becky.

Tracey, who hosted the visit explained: “It was a delight to host Ricky and Becky and I consider it a personal victory to have found Ricky a coffee that he loves. It just goes to show that we really do have a tea and coffee for everyone at Northern Tea Merchants!”

Northern Tea Merchants has been shortlisted for Food and Drink Retailer of the Year in the awards, having won both Food and Drink Retailer of the Year and the coveted overall Retailer of the Year title in 2017. Find out more about Northern Tea Merchants at the Chesterfield Retail Awards here.

To find out more about the Chesterfield Retail Awards 2018, please visit www.chesterfield.co.uk/retailawards

Northern Tea Merchants shortlisted in Chesterfield Retail Awards 2018

Northern Tea Merchants is proud to have been shortlisted for not one but two categories in the Chesterfield Retail Awards 2018, organised by Destination Chesterfield.

Now back for their fifth year, the awards celebrate the successes of the retail offering in and around Chesterfield. Northern Tea Merchants has been shortlisted every year since the awards began and this year has made it to the final three businesses in both Retailer of the Year and Food & Drink Retailer of the Year.

James Pogson, Director at Northern Tea Merchants said: “We’re incredibly proud at Northern Tea Merchants to have been shortlisted for the fifth year running. The retail awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the thriving retail community in Chesterfield and it’s always a huge achievement to be considered for the awards.

“The Pekoe Café opened last year and has helped us to further our offering to our customers, which is what we’re all about. It is thanks to our wonderful customers that we have the opportunity to be a part of the awards once more and defend our title of Food & Drink Retailer of the Year, so all of our thanks! We will let you know how we get on next month – watch this space.”

The finalists we are honoured to be shortlisted alongside are:

Retailer of the Year

  • Geeks Headquarters Ltd
  • Northern Tea Merchants
  • Specsavers

Food & Drink Retailer of the Year

  • Lambs Cupcakes of Chesterfield
  • Northern Tea Merchants
  • R P Davidson Cheese Factor

For more information about the Chesterfield Retail Awards 2018 and the full list of finalists, please click here.

Discover Chesterfield this Bank Holiday

We´re blessed with two bank holiday weekends this month.

Whether or not you have Bank Holiday plans, we thought we’d take the opportunity to remind you of all the great things you can do in and around Chesterfield.

You’ve probably guessed that here At Northern Tea Merchants we are incredibly proud of our Chesterfield heritage. The town has been our home for more than 80 years.

So, whether you’re local or from outside the area let us take you on a virtual journey of Chesterfield ahead of the Bank Holidays.

We’re conveniently located on Chatsworth Road – the gateway to the Peak District National Park and the stunning Chatsworth House – arguably one of the most popular visitor destinations in the Peak District.

Of course, there’s not just the house itself at Chatsworth, there are also beautiful gardens, a farmyard and playground for younger visitors, and the famous Chatsworth Farm Shop. Chatsworth is proud to serve our teas in its restaurants and we also blend and pack the delightful Lucy Loveheart Chatsworth Tea Bags in the quirky tin, and the Chatsworth English Breakfast and Earl Grey Tea bags that are on sale in the Farm Shop.

Spend a day rediscovering Chesterfield! Town centres are changing, there’s no denying that. Chesterfield is lucky enough to be home to myriad independent retailers like ourselves, as well as a popular open air market.

And one thing we haven’t mentioned yet, and cannot forget if we’re talking about Chesterfield, is the Crooked Spire. Did you know that you are able to climb the spire? There are daily tours and it is well worth the climb. The views of Chesterfield and the Peak District are fantastic. We thoroughly recommend it. Find out how to book a tower Tour here.

The church is also right next to the town’s Tourist Information Centre. Pop in, you might even spy some Northern Tea Merchants products on sale in there…

If you’re looking for something a bit more leisurely, then the Pomegranate Theatre has an abundance of options to suit everybody. Did you know that screenings of cinematic films are held in the theatre? It’s also the setting for some great ballet, plays, workshops, comedians and pantomimes.

Enjoy the sunshine from the garden or curl up with a good book. Whatever makes you happy during the bank holidays, we hope you have a relaxing time!

And of course, there’s the most relaxing option of all – at home with your feet up, enjoying a cup of Northern Tea Merchants tea or coffee. Especially our tea and coffee of the month, this month aptly including the Queen’s Park Espresso Blend Coffee, created to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Chesterfield’s beautiful Queen’s Park.

To discover more about what’s happening in and around Chesterfield through the year, please visit http://www.chesterfield.co.uk/visiting/events/

Raise a cup of tea to the Chinese New Year of the Dog

Friday 16 February 2018 is officially the start of the Chinese New Year of the Dog. if you’re planning a celebratory meal, then read on to find out our recommended tea to pair with Chinese food.

Festivities are set to continue for around two weeks, not only in China but also here in the UK, where nearly 200,000 Chinese people live.

If you’re joining in the celebrations, then sticky rice cakes and Chinese dumplings take centre stage as the food of choice.

One tea that is popular to be drunk with savoury food in China is roasted tea. Roasting tea has been part of tea preparation methods in China for many years, and the practice has spread to other Asian countries, including Japan and Thailand. It is an acquired taste, but one that is well worth cultivating.

With nearly 40 teas from China to choose from on the Northern Tea Merchants website alone, which are the best ones to pair with Chinese food?

Our resident tea expert, James Pogson, gives his suggestions for the best teas to accompany Chinese food and celebratory meals, and here’s the big surprise, they’re not all Chinese!- Tie Guan Yin – It’s an exceptionally fine quality Chinese Oolong tea with the leaf grade of ‘top fancy Oolong. It has a delightful flavour and is a great accompaniment to chicken and vegetable dishes and is a wonderful digestif.

 

– Hojicha Tea – A Japanese roasted tea that has a sweet, slightly caramel-like aroma but the taste is very different and a great accompaniment to all savoury foods. It’s also a good digestif.

– Lemon Verbena – This is a drink that would not typically be consumed by the Chinese, but it is great after a heavy celebration meal. It’s from South America where whole Lemon Verbena leaves are fully air dried, releasing a delightful lemon scent when handled or broken.

– Ching Wo – One of the most distinguished South China Congous. It is a lighter bodied, delicious tea which is both refreshing and thirst quenching. It is best drunk without milk in order to savour its gentle, slightly smoky flavour.

Northern Tea Merchants stocks a range of black teasherbal infusionsgreen teas and white teas from China.

If you have any specific questions on the subject of tea or coffee, then please don’t hesitate to contact James.

 

 

15th China Global Tea Fair

I really loved being a part of the 15th China Global Tea Fair in Shenzhen and the entire trip was a great success!

I was there to speak about the growing demand in the UK for Speciality teas and herbal teas and how the shape of British tea drinking is changing. The UK has seen significant growth in fine quality leaf teas and herbs over the last five years and as the world’s largest producers of tea, many Chinese companies are now wanting to know more and more about this growing market. With many companies looking to export their products to the UK, often for the first time, the plethora of rules and regulations relating to the import of tea can be quite a minefield and so I has been asked to join an international panel of consultants to give advice to Chinese companies who wish to export their teas to the U.K. and Europe.

After the China Global Tea Fair was over, I travelled to Bangkok via Hong Kong and spent the next few days in the charming company of the Chairman of The Thailand Tea Association, Dittawat Steven Kaewkarnjanadit who was kind enough to give me an in-depth tour of the temples and tea markets of Bangkok’s Chinatown.

After four days in Bangkok, I then travelled north to Chiang Mai where I spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day before meeting up with a large group of tea people from Malaysia, China, Thailand and Australia. The entire group then travelled further north to the Chiang Rai, where we were privileged to stay at the Lao Lee Resort. Mr Lao is a former chairman of the Thailand Tea Association and gave us all a wonderful tea tasting and a very kind gift of an 11 year aged Pu’erh Tea Cake which is absolutely delicious and can be infused up to 15 times! Lao Lee Resort is extremely beautiful and is set in the foothills of the mountains of Northern Thailand.

After leaving Lao Lee Resort, we headed for Doi Chaang Coffee Estate, which was owned by the charming Jennifer, who is the wife of Veichang Pan who’s family owns the amazing Wawee Tea Estate. Doi Chaang proved to be a wonderful experience as it is currently harvest season and I got some great photographs of the myriad of coffee bushes with the cherries just reaching ripeness. We were also privileged to have a coffee cupping with beans that had literally just been picked and dried the day before – you can’t get fresher than that! Leaving Doi Chaang we descended the mountain and headed for Wawee Tea Estate, which is owned by Veichang’s family, and when Veichang said he’d arranged a special day for us, I was absolutely delighted to learn that day was to be spent entirely on the tea estate and we spent the morning picking tea from bushes aged between 7 and 800 years old. The group I was part of, consisted of 15 adults and two children and it took the entire group all morning to pick one large basket of leaves suitable for making into tea. We then returned with this large basket to the Wawee tea factory where we pan fried the leaves and were shown how to hand-roll them. The fruits of the labour of the entire group for the whole morning yielded just enough shoots to make about 1kg of tea! Other professional tea pickers were bringing entire baskets of leaves to the factory that they had picked themselves. These pickers are employed directly by Wawee and have worked with the Pan family for many years. Veichang and his brother then set us all on making our own Pu’erh Tea Cakes and helped us each to steam the tea and form the tea into the traditional flat cake using a stone mould. We were each given the cake that we had made as a present and I now have mine in pride of place on the mantelpiece in my office. I am very grateful to Veichang and his family for extending such hospitality and kindness and for looking after us all so very well.

We then journeyed the following morning to an Opium Museum which told the story of Opium and Heroin production over the last 300 years and had the weirdest Kids Corner I’ve ever seen! We then took a boat-ride along the Mekong River and visited the two other countries within the Golden Triangle, Myanmar and Laos, we simply stopped in each of these areas and visited markets alongside the boat stops. Passport control was informal to say the least and whilst visiting these markets I saw certain ‘delicacies’ that would quite frankly be illegal over here (including some of the most bizarre infused grain spirits that I have ever seen). It was easy to resist the urge to bring any home.

After this extremely unique and memorable morning we headed back to our hotel to prepare for New Year’s Eve, which we all celebrated with great gusto! On the 1st day of 2018 our merry band departed to their various homes in China, Malaysia and Australia and I was left with Veichang and Jennifer and spent a delightful two days visiting temples and winding down after what had been a very intense 23 days. I would recommend visiting Northern Thailand to anyone who is interested in tea and coffee and I saw things that I have never seen before whilst on this trip, and I feel privileged to have shared this experience with such lovely kind people.

More wonderful photos of the visit are available on the Northern Tea Merchants Facebook page here.