We Brits love a steaming hot cup of tea, whether that's in a mug to wake us up in the morning, in a china teacup during a fancy afternoon tea, or from a flask at the top of a Lake District mountain. And what could be better than a local tea, that's sustainably made, environmentally friendly AND supports local charities? Enter The Cumbrian Tea & Coffee Co!
It Started with a Teapot
My grandfather, Wilfred Dickinson, was a bit of an entrepreneur. He was a chef by trade in the Army during World War II and a butcher, landowner and publican afterwards. One of the few sentimental items he left after passing away was an old teapot that he won whilst racing pigeons. He told his daughter, my mother, “one day the teapot will be worth something”.
After some time working away from Cumbria – and looking for a fresh start – I moved back to the county I love. Intrigued by the story of the teapot, and believing it to be a sign, I wanted to explore my ambition of having my own sustainable business. I wanted to create something that enabled me to put something back into my great county and, where possible, help others along the way.
Over the years I’ve bought and sold all sorts of things. I was first interested in discovering the value of the teapot and, although it turned out that its worth is wholly sentimental, the research I did inspired an interest in antiques. After that came watches, gold, property, and even fresh fruit smoothies from a mobile event trailer! But it wasn't until 2020 - the year of lockdown - that I had my real lightbulb moment.
As constraining as the first COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 was, it was also a fundamentally life-changing period for me. My wife, Kay, and I became proud parents to a beautiful daughter, Ella Rose, and this - as well as the worldwide pandemic - had me looking at things from a different perspective. Life was now about providing for my daughter and I wanted to do more than bring her into the world and give her nice things. I wanted to provide her with a legacy, something I never had, and offer her the choice between building on something I had started, or going her own way with the support she needed. In short, I wanted to offer her some security in an unstable world.
Around the same time, Kay turned 40, and one of my gifts to her - a cream tea from one of our favourite UK holiday destinations, Cornwall - provided me with a lightbulb moment. In the hamper there was a local tea that, as well as being really tasty, was also in eye catching packaging. Intrigued, I read a bit more into the company behind the tea and liked what they were: ethical, environmentally friendly and approachable (“Boo, caught you peeking” it read on the underside of the carton).
I'm a huge tea lover and, having worked around the world in places where a "brew break" was often used to decompress from stressful situations, I understood the power that a cup of tea has. I looked into whether there was a regional tea in Cumbria and, when I found there wasn't, I contacted the tea and coffee manufacturer, Cornish Tea and Cornish Coffee Co, with an idea to collaborate. They loved my suggestion, invited me for an interview, and we're now business partners and have launched our very own Cumbrian tea, Ramblers' Brew.
Creating A Truly Cumbrian Tea
There’s still a lot of work to do to make Cumbrian Tea a truly acceptable Cumbrian brand, but we are at the beginning of something special. Our vision is for “a tea that the great Cumbrian people would be proud to call their own… a tea to share with the world”. We want to work sustainably to provide people in Cumbria - both locals and the many visiting ramblers - with tasty, ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products at a reasonable price.
As well as using 100% plastic-free teabags and packaging, we work with local charities to help them become more sustainable. We want to play our part by making a positive impact on Cumbria, as wall as providing the county with a delicious local tea!
The first leaves used for the initial Cumbrian Tea production run now sit pride of place in Wilfred’s teapot. Known as “The Dickinson Luck”, it's hoped that, as long as the teapot remains intact, there will be success for The Cumbrian Tea and Cumbrian Coffee Co. It's a nod to the legend of the Luck of Muncaster at Muncaster Castle.
Having two lockdowns in the first 6 months of trading didn't make for the easiest start. But having learned valuable lessons from previous endeavours, and having a genuine desire to create a truly Cumbrian tea, we continued to grow, and it was clear that people enjoyed what we were offering. Now we're building towards a manufacturing facility within West Cumbria in order to make our products even more ingrained in the county.
And there's more down the line, too. We're currently developing a Cumbrian coffee, an Earl Grey tea, and a decaf tea. All will maintain the strong environmentally- and socially-conscious ethose we so believe in.
Find out more:
This is a guest blog written by Mark from The Cumbrian Tea & Coffee Co. You can visit their website to find out more. Cumbrian Tea can currently be bought at Cherrydidi (Keswick), Lakeland Artisan (Kendal) and at other locations across the Lake District.