Fresh blend of university research informs Scotland’s tea lovers: Erica Moore

once-upon-a-time

 

Edinburgh-based, eteaket, is one of the UK’s leading artisan tea companies. The company’s story started back in 2005 when its founder, Erica Moore, decided that tea had an image problem and was due a makeover. In the UK, coffee had become trendy and wine was no longer just defined as red or white. However, despite a fascinating spectrum of tea from around the world, the UK’s tea was still a prisoner in its own tea bag. Erica always had a love for a good cuppa but it was discovering the astonishing world of loose leaf tea that really captured Erica’s imagination, exciting her and the company with its possibilities.

Erica decided that she really wanted to rekindle Britain’s love affair with proper leaf tea, so in December 2008, the doors of the eteaket Tea Room opened in Edinburgh along with the company’s online store. eteaket’s journey has taken them on their own tea pilgrimage to China, India, Sri Lanka and Japan in search of the best leaves and they have been privileged enough to have met some of the best tea masters and teachers in the world along the way.

The loose leaf speciality tea company, which is based on Edinburgh’s Frederick Street, has just teamed up with food and drink scientists from Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, to offer their consumers more information about the contents of their tea cup.

eteaket is aiming to expand their range of speciality teas for the UK and overseas market. They also want to provide customers with more detailed nutritional information about caffeine and antioxidant levels to assist them in choosing the best tea variety for their personal requirements.

With a strong research background in supporting the development of Scotland’s food and drink businesses, eteaket identified QMU as the academic partner with widest skills and knowledge for analysing the science behind its range of 30 loose leaf teas.

Researchers at QMU have extensive experience of identifying the antioxidant content of a wide variety of food and drink products, including undertaking a number of studies which have assessed the nutritional and health benefits of antioxidant rich drinks.

Varying levels of caffeine and antioxidants found in everyday food and drinks products such as tea, coffee, chocolate and energy drinks, have a number of health benefits as well as some physiological effects. Some studies have revealed that caffeine has anti-inflammatory properties and has an impact on neurological function.

Tea contains numerous different natural chemicals which act as antioxidants, including vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and tannins. Antioxidants play a valuable role in maintaining good health. They can help protect cells from damage and are important in the fight against disease.

QMU’s research showed that some of eteaket black teas have a high caffeine level but some tea enthusiasts might be surprised to learn that it is those teas that also have a high antioxidant level. eteaket’s English breakfast black tea variety had the greatest antioxidant content and the Silver Needle variety of white tea had the least. eteaket’s Oriental Oolong and English Breakfast teas contained the highest levels of caffeine while Decaf Breakfast and Big Red Rooibos contained no or negligible amounts.

Even though black teas have a relatively high amount of caffeine, it is still only about half the amount that is found in coffee and energy drinks.

This new research is now being used to help consumers who are interested to know about the nutritional content of their tea. So for example, those who are looking to reduce caffeine in their diet could choose to select eteaket’s Decaf Breakfast or the Big Red Rooibos varieties.

Erica Moore from eteaket, said: “We’re passionate about tea and have been rekindling the British love for proper leaf tea since 2008.

“The latest scientific data from QMU is helping us develop product information contained on our website, online shop, promotional materials and labelling. We’re really pleased that we can now offer our customers and tea connoisseurs across the UK and overseas detailed consumer information about the contents of their tea cup.

“Importantly, the valuable information we now have on caffeine and antioxidant levels across our product range is also helping us increase sales and identify other business opportunities.

“eteaket is continuing to grow and we’re very proud of our truly amazing team. We’re excited about the future – we love what we do and we hope our customers do too.”

eteaket was voted the best tea in the UK in 2012 by the Beverage Standards Association and now exports its teas to Japan and Hong Kong thanks to additional support from Scottish Development International.

Consumer information on the full range of eteaket’s teas will soon be available from the company’s online shop.