Business

Happy ‘birthtea' as Punjana Tea marks 120th anniversary

Billy May

IT'S one of the north's oldest and most profitable continuously-operating companies . . . and now it's raising a cuppa to mark a special birthday.

The Thompson family, the family behind Northern Ireland’s best-selling tea Punjana, is celebrating 120 years of importing and blending some of the worlds’ finest teas into Belfast.

Third generation Thompsons and joint managing directors Ross and David run their Punjana tea blending and packing operation in Belfast and it is the largest remaining tea blender in Northern Ireland, and they personally taste every blend to ensure the quality of their brand meets the highest standards.

The factory now produces tea for over a third of the north’s tea consumption, equating to more than 50,000 cups of Punjana tea every hour.

The owners' quality approach has been endorsed by their considerable success in the prestigious Great Taste Awards, where over the last decade the Punjana brand has won more Gold Awards than any other blended tea bag in these islands.

The Thompson family has come a long way since 1896, when tea was delivered in tea chests to grocers shops using public transport – with earliest packs of Punjana loose tea sold for just 2 shillings and 6 pence.

The Thompsons, who created the Punjana brand name inspired by an inscription carved on the Gillespie statue in Comber Square, launched with a TV advertisement which was to become one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic jingles after ‘Pick Punjana Tea’ was broadcast UTV’s first night of transmission in 1959.

As part of their anniversary the family ventured back and explored the roots of their tea heritage with a journey from Kenya to Belfast, shown through an insightful video across their social media channels, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the origins of the north's favourite cuppa.

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