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How it all began...

People and partnerships are the backbone of our business. As Tea Merchants we are part of a wonderful ecosystem of growers, ceramicists, tea experts and of course our wonderful tea drinking customers. To celebrate the launch of our book “Tales of the Tea Trade” on 25.4.19, over the next 60 days we will be introducing you to 60 of our partners.⁣

Stories of all these partners and their place in the tea trade are woven in to the book, and in every turn of the page we hope you will appreciate our tale and share in the joy of the wonderful people we have met along the way.⁣

Before we get started we thought this might be a good time to re-introduce ourselves and our story.  Our book starts with the story of how we fell in love with and decided to build a life around tea but of course the journey from that moment of enlightenment to the business you see today doesn't just happen overnight.   It all started in Darjeeling, in the office you see below and with the man you see below, Rajah Banerjee.  Over a few cups of beautiful Darjeeling he introduced us to the possibilities that tea could offer both in the cup and in life.  

The ember lit in Rajahs office in Darjeeling glowed for the next few years.  We met and learnt more from the wonderful Jane Pettigrew and were fortunate enough to meet other pioneers in the tea industry such as Merrill Fernando of Dilmah, Sri Lanka.  The time and wisdom these wonderful people shared with two young[ish] and definitely naive people seeking a life in tea continues to shape our careful and considered approach to our tea business.  To them and all who welcome us into their lives we are forever thankful


Around this time we were living in Brussels for Michelle work.  We started to give time to the idea of our tea brand - what would it look like?  Where to start?  There was one clear inspiration for the logo - our beautiful cat called Anders who used to drink cold darjeeling [by now our staple breakfast tea] from the cup.

Below  is the initial sketch that we sent to Michelle's great friend Mariko [they had been at school together] that resulted in the logo we know at Comins today 

With travels in India, Japan and Sri Lanka under our belt we were very clear that Comins would focus on pure, unblended orthodox teas.  We had made a handful of connections on our travels and identified five teas that we loved.  Inspired by our travels we had also designed a small range of teaware that we wanted to sell alongside  the tea - all designed by us and made in the UK.  Some of these items - namely our Tea Bowls and Tea Tins are still part of our collection and firm favourites with our customers.  We had the beginnings of a business and we launched online with our five teas and our small tea-ware range.  The photo below was taken in our flat in Brussels - we were living in Ixelles and both vividly remember setting up this photo - trying to smile with our son running around in the background.

We were soon out at markets and events working to spread the word about tea and learning a huge amount in the process.  Many of our longest standing tea loving friends were met over steaming cups of tea at freezing cold markets.   


Alongside this activity our travels continued - this time with our son in tow.  One of the key motivations for starting our business was to build a different life for our family.  We wanted, and still want, our children to live by the ethos 'Be Brave, Be Kind' [which you will see at the front of the book] - to pursue the things that interest them in life and do so with a kind, human approach - a path we ourselves wanted to follow.  This path was to see us extend our travels, take our children on our tea sourcing trips [one son soon became 3 with the twins that followed], leave our comfortable jobs and of course open the two Tea Houses you may be familiar with today.  The photos below show our son in Sri Lanka, our whole family in India and the spaces we now take great pleasure in welcoming tea lovers to - our way of extending the kindness of the tea world that we continue to experience around the world - to all who enter.  





This is of course a much shortened version of a much longer tale.  In short this is a family business, built on a vision and desire to bring great tasting, quality tea to the UK market .  The Tea Houses you sit in were built by Rob - the first when the twins were just babies and the second a few years later.  



The teas we source and you enjoy are the product of our fantastic partners - who you will meet over the next 60 days through our social media and also in our book. Understanding their stories and motivations perhaps goes someway to explain why we are so driven to do what we do and hopefully why your tea tastes so good!



Our spaces and the tea we served within them have changed the direction of our lives thanks to the final wonderful ingredient - and that is all of you reading this - all the people who come through the door open minded, ready to explore.  We believe a cup of fine tea, sourced with care & served with an open heart has the capacity to connect us all on a simply human level.  In todays often busy frantic world that is something quite special.  

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  • Jenny Rawlins on

    Dear Michelle and Rob
    Just read your story, you are the most wonderful inspirational couple and we are so so lucky to have you in Stur, Carrie and I are great fans! And will be in for tea this Friday, plus really looking forward to getting our hands on your book …

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