An old Japanese proverb says that if a person has “no tea in them”, then they are “incapable of understanding truth and beauty”, something that eteaket founder and passionate champion of whole leaf tea Erica Moore understands all too well.
She said: “I describe myself as a recovering lawyer who had a ‘life’s too short’ moment. I realised I was living my life by accident rather than on purpose, so I quit my job in London and went backpacking to Sri Lanka and India to learn all about something I was actually passionate about, whole leaf tea.”
It was a journey that culminated in a return to Scotland in 2008 to set up the eteaket tea room on Frederick Street and launch an online shop specialising in helping hospitality businesses make their tea offering better.
She said: “I’m on a mission to encourage people to live their lives with more joy and purpose through the power of whole leaf tea.”
It wasn’t long before businesses in Edinburgh more used to the city’s burgeoning desire for coffee began to take notice, with Tom Kitchin becoming one of their first (and most loyal) customers. Their online shop now supplies tea to hundreds of cafes, restaurants, sites, hotels, venues and offices all over the UK including to the likes of Sky, Lloyds Banking Group and Joel Robuchon.
It wasn’t just businesses who were beginning to see the benefits of this quintessentially British drink – residents and tourists alike flocked to the tea room, which recently had a refit to celebrate eteaket’s 10th anniversary, and the concept store on Rose Street, which opened in 2016.
Erica said: “We’ve been pleasantly surprised that our customers are always up for experimenting – they really took to our tea lattes since day one. The demographic of tea drinkers is also changing as more young people are turning to quality whole leaf tea as part of a healthy lifestyle.
"As people’s knowledge about tea increases, they have a much higher expectation which drives change in the hospitality industry.”
Though it may be a traditional drink in the UK, eteaket are continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible, creating products such as pink chai tea lattes, barrel-aged Tomatin Whisky tea and cold brew blends.
Erica said: “Obviously our Breakfast Blend is always going to be a popular choice in the UK but our Blooming Marvellous green tea and Chilli Rooibos blends have always been big hitters, while fruit and herbal infusions, like our new limited edition Watermelon Burst and Rhubarb Rocks are booming in popularity at the moment.
“One of our best and most fun collaborations has been creating our Isle of Harris Gin Tea with the Isle of Harris Distillery, using sugar kelp which is hand-dived for off the coast of Harris. My mum is from Harris so it’s a venture that means a lot to me.”
Lauded for its health benefits and complex taste profiles, whole leaf tea is also becoming popular with people interested in well-being.
She said: “The three minute enforced pause while you wait for your leaves to brew can have massive positive mental and health benefits if you actually use it to stop and pause. Given the huge increase in mental health issues, particularly among younger people this could be really beneficial.”
With experiences like afternoon tea, tea pairing menus and tea workshops also on the rise, and people experimenting with more diverse and rare teas, what’s next for this exciting Scottish business?
Erica said: “We’re also trying to spread our mission of living each day with more joy and purpose to as many people as possible all over the world, whether that’s online, through our wholesale customers, the mentoring work we do with the Prince’s Trust, or with our tea room and tea store customers.”