Tea Times

Sharyn Wortman

These days you can’t walk down a street in any major town or city throughout the UK without passing at least one coffee house. How times have changed in Great Britain over the last twenty years. A nation that was once as synonymous with tea as sun is with summer has over the last two decades deserted its previous beverage of choice in favour of the drink of Europeans.

Now before you go off and bemoan the demise of tea, it should be remembered that people’s taste does move in cycles. Two hundred years ago London was a wash with coffee houses so perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into these things.

It was at a recent food exhibition that I came across Todaywasfun. The name of the company gave me no indication of the nature of their business or the product they manufactured. The lady at the stall was bright, cheery and only too keen to give me more information on the product she naturally had a great deal of faith in. After all, she was its founder and for Sharyn Wortman, tea was everything.

I picked up a bright pink packet with the words “Love Love Tea” emblazoned across it and read the first paragraph on the front of the label.

Where would we be without love? Our latest blend lovingly combines organic rose buds and petals with coriander and liquorice root. In addition, each box holds a secret love note for its keeper.

I glanced up at Sharyn Wortman with a look of scepticism.

“It’s a far cry from PG Tips. Isn’t this all a bit pretentious?”

“Well firstly we want to be as far away from conventional tea as possible so I’ll take that as a compliment. As for pretentious, I’d say we’re certainly different to other tea-makers but we’re much more than some kind of gimmick. All our products are made with devotion and attention to detail and for us, taste is everything.”

The company was formed back in 2001 and Sharyn started by taking her product to different delis in the Hampstead area where she offered them a sale or return policy. Her background was in advertising and as a student she studied art, although she readily admits to having a good palate.

“I wanted to make a product that stood out for its flavour, not just for its packaging and I think I have managed to achieve that. “We currently have nine different products within which we incorporate six varieties of tea. They are Happiness, Friendship, Inspiration, Expectancy, Sleepy and Love Love Tea. All are made with organic ingredients from herbs and flowers grown here in the UK and across Europe. We have won numerous awards for our products, including Best New Organic Product for Sleepy Tea. “We also offer Green Green Tea which is a carbon neutral product making it good for you and the environment and a tea caddy together with a tea and cookies gift set.”

At this point I felt it only sensible to try some of the product to hand and I have to say that the Love Love Tea does marry its flavours well with a beautiful taste that is almost as bright as its packaging.

As an innovator and entrepreneur, there is no doubting Sharyn Wortman’s enthusiasm and determination to stick to her principals. She heads a tight-knit operation that allows her small work force to express themselves creatively and she is keen to maintain a healthy life/work balance.

“All my staff work a four day week because I want them to have lives outside of their careers – just like me.”

As for the future, with her products currently selling well across Europe, she is aiming on raising her profile in the US and the Middle East, a region where tea is a popular drink.

If you would like more info on Todaywasfun then check out their website at www.todaywasfun.com

Poppy Watt