Richard Healey, founder of the independent tea importer Cotswold Teas, has died.
Cotswold Teas has imported some very interesting products, and it was Richard who challenged his growers once to make a blend that would 'cut through the taste of a traditional fried English breakfast'â¦ and achieved it.
Richard launched Cotswold Teas in Birmingham in 2003, with the aim of bringing specialist teas to hotels, restaurants and delis in the West Midlands, although he would travel anywhere in the UK to present unusual teas to a tea-room customer.
On several occasions he brought first-flush teas into the UK with surprising speed, which he put down to his personal contacts with the growers: "The tea was picked in the snow, hand-made by the owner and couriered out to us," he explained on one occasion. "On the back of that, we are selling it to restaurants before anybody else can offer it."
By working closely with farmers, he was able to create some unusual variations. On the basis that five consumers out of every ten people love Earl Grey tea, and the other five hate it, he challenged both a Nepalese and an Indian grower to find the answer.
One came up with a stronger new blend, and the other with a milder one, and Cotswold Teas put both on to the market.
His 'fried-breakfast' tea came from Katmandu after a conversation in which Richard Healey had to explain to a grower the concept of a traditional English breakfast. The tea farmer and his staff actually learned how to cook such a breakfast in order to understand what was needed and then adapted what they called 'Pakistani truck-drivers' tea' .
"Once they understood how people here like greasy breakfasts, they decided to devise a tea which would cut through the grease," Richard explained at the time. "It's a remarkable result - by itself, the tea is OK, and nothing specialâ¦ but once you serve it beside a full English breakfast, it really comes into its own."
His wife Kay Healey has said: "I am determined to make a go of Cotswold Tea in his memory".
By Ian Boughton