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One experiment at a time – the birth of Tiree Tea

When I dreamed up Tiree Tea a few years ago, it was a pie in the sky idea. I thought the name had a nice ring to it., and then I filed it away under the “daft ideas” heading in my brain and let it marinate.

I finally decided to put the veg growing sideline on ice this summer (long story), and started throwing about the idea of tea again. In September 2019, when I came up with a 4 month experiment in order to test the market, the name still had a nice ring to it, and the idea was taking a clearer shape.

I decided to throw mself in at the deep end and figure out how to produce a product, market it and shift a designated amount of it between September and Christmas. If I hit my goals I would consider moving from an experiment (real though it looked), to an actual “thing”.

I learnt a lot – about producing a product, branding and marketing it, as well as actually selling it – never mind the intricacies of shipping things (the patience of Barbara in the Post Office cannot be understated.) I’ve still got a lot to learn – but it was a fun crash course for starters!

I set what felt like a scary target, and opened pre-orders on November 1st. Before I left for a Christmas break on the 18th of December, I mailed my last order. I hit 150% of my goal in 7 weeks. I didn’t expect it, but it made for a fantastic Christmas present.

If you bought Tiree Tea, drank it, gifted it, left me reviews and comments, or in anyway encouraged and supported me in person or on social media the last few months – thank you. You have been a huge part of my decision to take Tiree Tea forward – from an experiment I wasn’t sure would work – to a fledgling business. (Still got some Crofter in stock, just saying…)

What’s next? Well, in the next few months I’ll be adding two new blends to the current range of Crofter Breakfast Tea and Tilley Mint and Nettle, to make a total of four Tiree-inspired blends for the moment. There will be a few surprises thrown in too, though! I’m a big fan of experiments, and so the growth of Tiree Tea is going to be done in the same way as my wee festive test – one experiment at a time!

Will there ever be a Tiree-grown ingredient in the tea? I really hope so. Tea is legally a food, and therefore there are huge costs and investment associated with growing, harvesting, drying and incorporating local ingredients. I’ve got a lot to learn before I can think about it reaching that stage.

In the meantime, I will label and pack in Tiree. The blends and their labels have been inspired and developed with the language, stories, culture, plants and animals of the Hebrides in mind – particularly those of Tiree – and I very much hope you will taste that authenticity in every cup.

Rx