PAUL RAVEN - TEA TRADERS, CARMARTHEN, SOUTH WALES
Paul Raven runs Tea Traders, a specialist tea business, in the old market town of Carmarthen, South Wales with his partner Nick Lee. They sell tea online, and run a contemporary tea shop that provides work opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities. Paul is passionate about helping customers enjoy the huge variety of teas available, and is a big fan of roasted Oolong teas, especially Oriental Beauty.
“We stock around 100 carefully selected teas, including our very popular own-blend ‘Welsh Breakfast’ tea. Our range also includes three delicious, finely crafted, and surprisingly complex Black, Green, and Oolong teas that have been grown and processed at the Peterston Tea Estate in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. This year marks the first commercial production from the Estate after five years of dedication & hard graft and supplies are still very limited. We are excited to be one of just a few specialist tea businesses to stock their range of Welsh grown tea at present”.
As a child Paul grew up drinking traditional ‘British’ tea: Strong black leaf tea served with milk and two sugars. His entry point into wider tea culture arose as a consequence of studying Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, during his previous career as a florist and floristry teacher.
Ikebana has long been regarded as an essential element of room decoration for the Japanese, and an important aspect of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Over the last 30 years Paul’s combined interest and enjoyment of flowers, nature, and tea has evolved. Leading to the launch of their tea business in 2017.
Paul took the opportunity to complete the Tea Champion programme via a series of webinars held by the UK Tea Academy during the Covid-19 shutdown: “Even though I felt that I had a good understanding of tea from my own knowledge and research, and from running our business, the shutdown has been very isolating. The Tea Champion programme has provided me with the opportunity to connect with other tea enthusiasts, and to put my understanding of tea production and tea culture to the test.”
“I’m normally a ‘face-to-face’ type of person, so I was initially a little unsure of studying a sensory product such as tea via the webinar format. However, tutor’s Jane & Sam were excellent, so friendly, and so generous with their extensive knowledge. I found each module to be very well organised and informative. It was great to be able to confirm, ask questions, and add to my understanding during each session”.
“A surprising and very welcome bonus of undertaking the Tea Champion programme is that it allowed me to become part of a much wider tea community, and to connect with tea enthusiasts from Japan, Brazil, Norway, USA, Spain, and the UK”.
“Like many food & drink businesses, we are evolving and adapting to the challenges of Covid-19. We enjoy holding regular ‘Tea Brewing & Tasting’ evenings at our shop, but social distancing makes this difficult at present. However, inspired by the success of the UK Tea Academy webinars I have been using video and webinars as a way to stay connected with my own customers for example by holding regular ‘Tea Brewing & Tasting’ sessions online."
"As soon as the current restrictions are lifted I’m looking forward to continuing my tea journey by visiting the UK Tea Academy in London and undertaking their Tea Sommelier course."
Paul Raven, Director, Tea Traders