There’s not much us Brits love more than tea. Whether it’s a cuppa to wake you up in the morning, a fancy afternoon tea with pals, a herbal tea to give your body a boost or a comforting brew to sip whilst snuggled up on the sofa, tea is always a firm favourite. Family-run business PekoeTea has been keeping tea lovers across Edinburgh supplied with their favourite loose leaf concoctions since they opened back in 2008. Now with two shops, in Tollcross and Stockbridge, PekoeTea is full to the brim with high-quality, ethically sourced teas of every flavour your heart could possibly desire. We’ve teamed up with this wonderful little tea emporium to learn more about the business and also bring you a rather lovely competition – keep reading for your chance to win a hand-picked surprise cone full of Scottish afternoon tea treats from PekoeTea, Pinnies & Poppyseeds and Ginger Twist Studio.
Where did the idea for PekoeTea come from?
I studied electronics with music at the University of Glasgow before setting up PekoeTea in 2005. It was my life as a musician that led to me dealing in tea. Whilst at university I played some jazz gigs at the Tchaiovna House of Tea in Glasgow’s West End and struck up a close friendship with the owner, Martin Fell, who introduced me to the world of tea.
After graduating, Martin and I discussed opening a tea house together in Edinburgh, but the plans fell through. I researched getting supplies of tea from source, rather than buying from UK wholesalers, and went to China to meet some tea experts. We still do business with them today.
What values are important to PekoeTea?
It’s really important to us at PekoeTea to be as honest and transparent as possible with our products. We make sure that we source our products ethically and are members of the Ethical Tea Partnership. When we opened our shop in 2010 I was working there every day. What had been the hardest part of expansion is that I don’t get enough time in the shops meeting the customers. It is really important to me that the service and knowledge given to customers by the staff is a close to what I know about tea as possible. We spend quite a lot of time training our staff to make sure they can be as informative as possible.
We also set out to be as accessible as possible so that no-one has to feel intimidated about coming into a shop full of 100 different teas. We never try and sell tea to someone who is not going to appreciate it. This means we will sometimes recommend less expensive product if we think the customer will like it more. We haven’t really done much advertising or marketing since we opened so most of our business has come through repeat custom and word of mouth.
What do you look for when selecting new teas for PekoeTea?
When we’re looking for new products, we try to do as much direct trade as possible. This means travelling to where the teas are produced to build personal relationships with the growers. We look for as much transparency as possible – if our questions go unanswered or we can’t get access to something then we think twice about buying from that person. Taste and quality is also very important – we are constantly being sent samples of teas – we have to taste these and in some instances choose the tea within 24 hours of receiving the sample in order to secure that batch.
What do you love most about being an independent local business?
Running an independent businesses is not easy – in fact it is probably one of the most difficult things anyone could do – especially in the current climate but the rewards outweigh this. For starters, with the product we sell, we get to meet some amazing customers who really love the product. One of the things about working in tea is that you learn something new all the time – and I get to travel to the growing countries to source new products.
How did the idea for a collaboration between PekoeTea, Pinnies & Poppyseeds and Ginger Twist come about?
We are always looking for ways to collaborate with other small businesses. We had already run a tea and knitting event with Ginger Twist last year and we stock Pinnies and Poppyseeds shortbread so we thought they would be good to work with on this idea. It’s always a nice thing when several small local business work together to promote and compliment each other’s products.
What do you love most about Edinburgh? Why do you think there is such a strong independent scene in the city?
Edinburgh is an amazing place – we have a castle on an extinct volcano in the city centre – how many cities can boast that. One of the main attractions of Edinburgh is how compact it is. You can get around everywhere reasonably quickly. There are also lots of hidden gems in Edinburgh. I grew up in Edinburgh but I am still discovering places that I didn’t know existed – I recently came across Warriston Cemetery – an amazing place to walk around.
Edinburgh has always had a vibrant independent scene – with the festivals in August and the high number of visitors in general not to mention the large number of students that live in the city, I think it is only natural that interesting independent retailers will thrive. Unfortunately there has been a recent upsurge in the number of large supermarkets trying to get in on the “local” market, but I think this just encourages more shopping in independent shops as a result.
Fancy winning a Scottish Afternoon Tea surprise cone full of treats?
What could be better than a chilled afternoon tea with a Scottish twist? Our surprise cone is full of secret goodies (trust us, they’re amazing!) – from unusual teas to sweet treats and even something to get you started with a new hobby. For your chance to win this lovely prize full of goodies from PekoeTea, Pinnies & Poppyseeds and Ginger Twist, all you need to do is complete one (or more!) of the following options:
- Leave a comment on this blog post telling us your favourite kind of tea
- Retweet this Tweet (and make sure you’re following @everyedinburgh on Twitter too)
- Like this post on Facebook (and make sure you’ve liked Every Edinburgh on Facebook too)
Competition Terms & Conditions:
1. The prize is one surprise cone full of goodies from PekoeTea, Pinnies & Poppyseeds and Ginger Twist. The exact contents will not be revealed until after the competition ends.
2. The prize is non-transferable and cannot be substituted with a cash alternative.
3. The prize cannot be posted, it must be picked up in person from the PekoeTea shop at 20 Leven Street, Tollcross, EH3 9LJ. Travel expenses are not provided.
4. The competition is open to residents of Edinburgh and surrounding area over the age of 18.
5. The competition will run from 9am on Friday 10th June 2016 and will close at 9am on Friday 24th June 2016.
6. One of the options detailed above must be completed in order to be entered in the competition. The additional two options are optional and can be used to gain additional entries (up to a maximum of three entries per person).
7. The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced after the closing date of 24th June 2016.
8. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours of being notified, we reserve the right arrange a redraw and select another winner.