The idea of teatime may conjure up a decidedly British image of manners and etiquette, but teapigs has been treating the United States to teas fit for the Queen since opening their Brooklyn office in 2014. Leaving behind the paper tea bags full of dusty stuff that we’re used to on this side of the pond, teapigs makes whole leaf, ethically sourced, sustainably made teas in over 30 flavors.
“It’s a lot easier to produce large volumes of tea when you’re crushing it up and putting small amounts of it into paper bags,” said Emily Spring, marketing manager at teapigs US. “But that really affects the overall quality of the cup of tea you get. When you taste back to back with a paper tea bag and a teapigs tea temple, the range in flavor and depth and profile that come up are astounding.”
Whole leaves, flowers, and herbs go into teapigs’ trademark tea temples. The completely biodegradable mesh triangles are made from cornstarch, and in addition to improving flavor as the whole leaf tea steeps more thoroughly, the translucent mesh lets you see tea flowers bloom and come to life within the bag. Teapigs was the first company to start using triangular mesh bags for whole leaf teas, according to Spring: “We like to say it’s loose leaf tea without the fuss.”
Teapigs first launched in the UK in 2006, when founders Nick Kilby and Louise Cheadle branched out from their roots at tea giant Tetley. They wanted to do something about the huge amounts of high quality tea that were going to waste for the sake of lower production costs and lower shelf prices. Cheadle crafts every teapigs brew based on over a decade of experience traveling the world sourcing and tasting tea, and she tastes a cup of tea from every single production batch to ensure top quality. And alongside quality, teapigs considers ethics an equally strong pillar of their business.
“We only work with tea estates that pay a living wage and treat their employees very fairly,” said Spring. Philanthropy also factors into teapigs’ ethical scheme. For every pack of English Breakfast tea sold, a portion of the profits are returned to the Rwandan community where teapigs sources their ingredients. Through affiliations with the Point Foundation and the Gallagher Trust, teapigs House supports children and young adults living with disability by ensuring access to nutrition, medical care, and emotional support.
“Our London office is in Brentford,” explained Spring. “They’re doubling down on philanthropic effort by committing to their local community there too, working with schools in the area and reinvesting in the local community. That’s an ongoing aspiration we have for our Brooklyn office too, so we can bring those philanthropic efforts not only to where the tea is from but also to where it’s going.”