driftwood tea™ was created 5 years ago as part of a dream I had of owning my own online tea shop. A tea shop which only sold the teas I considered to be the greatest you could find on earth. These were the teas I drank myself and the teas, which when I served to people more used to mainstream black tea with milk would exclaim 'I just never knew tea could taste like this!'
I always loved that moment.
My ambition was to bring these teas to a wider audience, reduce a lot of the mystery and pretension that sometimes accompanies whole leaf teas, and make more people experience that 'I never knew...' moment. Over the last 5 years I have known and seen many small companies launch with a similar goal - sadly few have survived to remain around today - but we managed to achieved this (at least to a certain degree).
driftwood tea™ was on the whole critically well received. There are dozens of reviews on highly respected sites such as Teaviews and Steepster, which generally were incredibly positive - especially for some of our more unique and exclusive finds such as Organic Sticky Rice Oolong from Thailand, which my little sister travelled days by herself to initially source (that trip remains the proudest I've ever been of Kelda).
As my company grew so did commercial pressures. We needed more space, more equipment, and more money generally (no mater how noble our goals were, sadly businesses do require a strong cashflow to grow and driftwood ultimately was a business).
Around 3 years ago I began discussing the possibility of launching a more mainstream brand with the owner of a tea subscription service who I'd become friends with after our companies launched around the same time. While we didn't end up working together I did launch a second brand myself, The Skinny Tea Co™.
The Skinny Tea Co™ was launched in response to the low quality, laxative based, detox teas which were flooding the market. Almost immediately people seemed to be attracted to our unique flavours and high quality products. Skinny Tea's sales grew month after month, a pattern which continued throughout its entire first year. Skinny Tea began requiring more of my time and more of our storage space. I found myself increasingly having to deal with accountants, VAT returns, and logistics rather than finding new teas for driftwood. Around a year ago I had to make a tough decision and decided to focus on Skinny Tea which is when we took driftwood's teas off from sale.
I've always been honest and I've always been prepared to be outspoken about issues - such as when I wrote a blog post bemoaning people reviewing a year old Baozhong, a tea that lasts little more than 6 months outside of vacuum storage, and we already had the next years harvest in stock - which hasn't always led to the most positive online feedback.
Skinny Tea is at a major juncture as we've once more outgrown our current tea studio and demand from new sources is increasingly high. We're exploring a couple of really exciting opportunities which, hopefully, should allow me to free up a lot more of my time and energy. driftwood tea™ remains my dream tea brand and one I plan on re-launching one day (and hopefully fairly soon).
If you've read this far thank you! It's amazing that despite not selling any tea for a year we still have so many amazing customers from all over the world coming here, checking in, and emailing us asking when we'll relaunch and get more tea in stock. The next couple of months are going to be fairly pivotal for my company however, once we get through these I really hope to have driftwood tea™ back online and selling in some form or other!
Jamie Ewan Henderson