by Deb Barnwell
Where’s My P.G. Tips Tea?
This may seem like a little thing, but for the few of you who loyally buy PGTips tea at the Co-op, I’m sure you’ve noticed the gap in the shelf for a while. It’s not for lack of trying to fill that gap, but I’ve gotten the consistent message from our distributors that it’s not available, so I decided to go digging and figure out why.
PGTips, our beloved, quintessential British tea, is actually owned by Lipton Tea Company. Surprise! The company has been dealing with somewhat declining sales as the cost of living crunch in Great Britain has meant that lots of customers have been substituting less expensive tea for PGTips tea. Lipton also did some marketing research and discovered that a lot of British customers have been brewing their tea for less than a minute, which was leading to inferior flavor. So the company did a full product redesign, creating tea granules and changing the iconic bags to square bags. They also eliminated as much plastic as possible in their packaging and tried to make the whole product as eco-conscious as possible. The results, however, were less than satisfactory. The new tea tasted terrible.So, the whole product line was halted somewhere around this past April.
No wonder I can’t get it in the shop! No one could! From what I have been able to glean from the web there is soon to be a re-launch of a new and improved brand of the tea. It may not look, both in actual tea bags and the package, like what we’re used to. It may not be actual tea leaves in the bags any longer. They are striving to make a product that tastes like what we’re all used to and love, but one more suited to the brief steeping that modern life seems to have brought about in our overly busy cultures. Britain isn’t much different than America when it comes to stress and busy-ness.
So the short answer is, PGTips is coming back. It’s most likely going to look and maybe taste somewhat different. It’s been a long and not overly successful product redesign process from Lipton. When I can find some from our distributors I will stock some and you can be the judge if it’s worth keeping or not. The sad truth is that the vast majority of the small labels we are familiar with in the food world are mostly owned, as many of you probably know, buy a handful of giant multi-national corporations. PGTips is just one. So, try as we may to keep our products as local, organic and pure as we can, we are working with a vast, mega-industry that is working non-stop to swallow up the little independent, quality manufacturers.
I’ve been running into stocking issues with some of the herbs in the herb corner as well. Some things have been out of stock for a long time or don’t come in when I order them. I’m working on finding my way around these issues, as are we all, and doing what I can to keep the shelves stocked with all the things we rely on. And if you love chilis, do give the new Urfa Biber Turkish chili flakes a try! I’ve recently added them and they are one of my new favorites with a deep, subtle, earthy heat and a touch of sweetness that adds depth to anything you put them into. You only need a pinch but they add a lovely undertone to whatever you’re cooking up.