11 October 2017

Building the kit to create a premium tea brand

The traditional way of brewing was doing no favours for Jameel Lalani’s high-end tea. So, he changed the gear.

Lalani and Co tea is quite different to a standard builder’s brew: it’s composed of loose leaves derived from a single batch from a single producer contained within a glass jar, costing between £12 and £190.

‘Big silver vat’

The problem for founder Jameel Lalani was that ordinary tea paraphernalia killed the flavour he purported his leaves offered. ‘Usually, when you visit a fine restaurant or hotel, they serve you a big silver vat of tea,’ he says.

Three cups

Lalani describes a problem many tea drinkers are likely to recognise: ‘There are three cups in one of those pots. You have to guess when the first cup is ready, then the second one is certainly too strong, and the third is horribly over-infused.’ Asian tea is infused in single servings, he adds.

More than leaves

He also rails against silver, a material he claims absorbs the flavours of the previous brew. This frustration led Lalani down the path to creating his own pots, cups and other tea kit.

Tea geekery

Wasn’t there a risk all of this esotericism would be too much for anyone but the most enthusiastic and affluent tea connoisseur? Lalani claims there are a decent number of people drawn into tea geekery. ‘Part of the enjoyment of being a tea drinker is getting the right temperature, kettle and equipment for infusion,’ he says, echoing wine, spirits and coffee drinking. Expensive and specialist glasses, cups and decanters are completely normal, he adds.

‘Hardware’ move

Restaurants, hotels and coffee shops, as well as tea fanatics, have since been buying Lalani’s various tea-related products: scales, timers, bamboo matcha brushes and a host of ceramic vessels. It wasn’t the original plan but Lalani suggests the way his company has evolved was inevitable ‘as soon as we moved from being just a tea trader to starting the brand’.

Insight: By tackling the core consumer challenge (fine tea doesn’t brew well in a normal pot), Lalani spotted an opportunity: posh pots and cups.

First appeared in issue 19 Oct/Nov