for most people, it’s a builder’s brew in a bag thrown together in seconds – but for one mother-and-son team it is worth its weight in gold.
Jon and Lynn Cooper are causing quite a stir in the tea world as their business prepares to go global.
Pekoe Tea of Edinburgh, which started as an online firm before expanding to a shop in Tollcross, has signed a contract with retail giant Amazon.
The deal was the result of “blood, sweat and tears” as the Coopers worked round the clock to make their dream a reality.
Jon said: “They wanted one of everything. They bought 257 products from us.
“Two months ago I went to a buyer event, not expecting anything. But they were extremely keen to buy our teas, and we’ve sent everything off in the last ten days.”
The Coopers began trading in 2006 before opening their shop in 2010 – in the eye of the recession storm – but customers flocked, leaving them “taken aback when the shop took off overnight”.
Jon said: “Food and drink did all right through the recession. It was a real growth area and didn’t see a contraction, especially in the high end market.
“People are really interested in the quality of their food and drink now, where it comes from and its sourceability.”
Pekoe, based in Leven Street, boasts the most expensive tea in the world among its products.
A 185-gramme batch of Chinese blend Da Hong Pao sold at auction for almost £800,000 three years ago – but 25g of a second-grade version of the brew can be had from the shop for a much more modest £9.50.
The specialist shop also sells white, green and black teas from China and India and jasmine tea flowers which blossom in the pot.
But if it’s Tetley teabags you’re after, you’ve gone to the wrong place – the Coopers only sell loose leaf tea, and advise against drinking it with milk.
Jon said: “Some of the darker, Indian teas are better with a light splash of milk, but milk ruins most teas. The taste is lost in the milk.”
Tasting sessions have also proved a popular venture for the pair, who have acquired the services of Malaysian tea expert GP Goh. His “journey through tea” includes stories about how the brew once cured an emperor’s mother from illness.
‘It feels like drinking nutty, fruity gold’
Pekoe Tea sells a version of the most expensive tea in the world, and our reporter gave it the taste test.
“It feels like drinking gold,” said Abigail. “Nutty, fruity gold.”
Da Hong Pao, a type of Chinese Oolong tea, hails from Wuyi Mountain in the Fuijan Province and is known as “the emperor of teas”. “Before 2000, it was impossible to drink this tea,” said the shop’s Malaysian tea expert GP
“Only chairman Mao and his special guests could expect to drink it.”
Since the turn of the century a method has been found to produce the tea in larger quantities.