We have reached our goal YAHOO! Thank you to each and every one of you backers for making it happen - the van is now officially coming to London!
With time left on the clock, I have added a couple of elements to the project:
- 150% Two new teas to be added to the menu - a Japanese Sencha, very different in flavour to the Chinese green already included, and either another black tea or a dark Oolong. Although I don't want to overcomplicate things, these would be great additions to the wider collection from which the daily shortlist will be created.
- 175% A small range of teaware - in my mission to 'de-faff' loose leaf tea, I would love to be able to offer ways to make home-brewing G&P teas easier. Whether it be glass teapots, glass kettles or simply self-fill tea filters, these extra funds would go towards including some of these products alongside my teas.
An imported culture of skinny lattes and frappucinos-to-go has meant coffee has dominated our high streets for over a decade. And what high street chains started many years ago, London has improved upon. The city now boasts some of the world’s best coffee shops, where you can not only choose how much frothy milk you want, but where the beans are from, how and where they were roasted and most importantly the brewing method used to create your particular cup.
And yet, though tea has remained the nation’s favourite hot drink, the quality on offer when we are out and about is more often than not distinctly average. Our choices as tea drinkers are limited to one or two types, produced from a box of bags on top of the coffee machine, the same brand of which you have in your cupboard at home. There’s no magic; there’s no theatre. Instead, in exchange for our hard-earned cash, we are presented with a curiously-frothy cup of not-quite-hot-enough water with a bag hidden somewhere in the murky depths. And to top it all off you are faced with the prospect that in 3 minutes time you will standing by a street bin faffing with the lid and burning your fingers trying to fish the bag out again, for fear of the inevitable over-brew...Where did tea get so left behind?!
That’s what I wanted to change, by offering fellow tea-drinkers the same quality experience that my coffee-junkie friends currently enjoy. A Good & Proper cup of tea....finally.
A GOOD & PROPER CUPPA
SO you might be wondering what makes a Good & Proper cup of tea so good. And so proper. Well firstly it's the tea itself. Unfortunately, most of the tea we drink in the UK is low grade black tea, cut, crushed and torn to within an inch of its life in order to give you quick colour and strength. What it often fails to give you, however, is flavour. The teas we have chosen are produced using 'orthodox' production methods, meaning the leaves are handled with great care so that, by the time they arrive in your cup, all their flavour has been kept intact.
What happens next is where it gets interesting, as each and every tea requires different brewing parameters. So while one black tea might be brewed with boiling water for around 3 minutes, a green might be best with water of just 80 degrees, brewed for only a minute. Getting this right is key to getting the best flavour from the leaves. And getting it wrong leads to burned leaves and over-stewing, with a huge number of people mistakenly hating green tea, believing it is supposed to taste as bitter as that...
These are the things I will be worrying about when preparing your brew, so that you don't have to. All you need to do is enjoy it.
With the help of industry experts, I have selected with great care a small number of black, green, oolong and white teas. And I hope to keep adding to this list as I discover new ones. I think they’re all delicious, but too much choice can be scary so the menu will keep changing, featuring only three for you to mull over each day.
The growing line up so far includes the following teas. Each tea is numbered according to the order in which they were tasted, loved and selected to be part of the collection:
OOLONG PICS TO COME SOON!
WHERE YOU COME IN
While I long to become the Monmouth Coffee of the tea world, I have to start somewhere and that somewhere in my case is in a van! Yes, I want to convert my beautiful 1974 Citroen H van into an all singing, all dancing (well, functional at least) mobile tea bar, which will be parked up in different spots around London depending where the thirsty tea-drinkers need me most...But here’s where you come in. To launch the Good & Proper van onto the streets of London and find out for myself if you love tea as much as I think you do, I need your help. Although I am proud to say I have raised a lot of the funds myself, I don't have enough to cover fitting out the van, the very place from which I want to serve my teas.
My funds have gone towards buying all the teas, and some of the farms I am sourcing them from are small, family-run businesses so I have to order a certain volume of tea and pay fair prices in order to make it worthwhile for them. I have also ordered all my supplies, from wood stirrers and napkins to the tea packaging itself, and the environmentally-friendly kind costs that little bit more. Finally, I have found and bought the van itself.
What I need your help with is turning this:
It's not an overly complicated fit out, but in order to brew and serve the teas properly, I need the basics - that means flooring, worktops, a shelf to store the teas, a shelf where customers can add milk and sugar, two health & safety-stipulated sinks, a small fridge, a griddle (for crumpets!), gas supply, lights, water and waste tanks and of course fitting the all-important water boiler. It might not sound like much, but it adds up to a scary amount - £10, 000 to be exact. So I am asking for your support to get the Good & Proper van up and running on the streets of London, the starting point for what will hopefully be a long and exciting journey!
In return for your pledge and to thank you for supporting the project, I have put together a list of rewards that I think (and hope) will get you as excited as I am about tea. As Kickstarter backers, you will be the first to try the delicious teas, sent to you in our brand-spanking-new Good & Proper packaging.
I will also be offering backers our super-convenient Good & Proper in-cup brewer, which makes brewing loose leaf teas a bit less scary...
Other rewards include prints and tote bags, featuring illustrations done exclusively for Good & Proper by Nikki Edwards.
So there it is, thanks for listening #chuffedyoureadthisfar
Risks and challenges
As for every project, you budget very carefully what needs to be done and the biggest worry is that once that work gets underway, new costs crop up. I therefore need to keep a close eye on every detail of the van conversion, so as to ensure that every penny is spent as it should be. Much to the despair of all my suppliers, I tend to ask a lot of questions up front. So with luck I should be well placed to prevent this cost-creep.
Another challenge will be designing the interior of the van in a way to make sure it is workable. Often you don't spot this until you start working in and living with a space, and then suddenly find everything takes much longer than it should, as every time you go to the fridge, the door opens into where you are trying to make the tea! These are things that big companies pay thousands of pounds to consultants to avoid, but I'm just going to have to use my noggin and the expertise of my friend Kiri, who is better at thinking about these things than I am...
Finally, once I am up and running, there will be no end to the challenges that street trading presents. Whether it be finding a pitch where the council will let you trade, or convincing the local shop to let you hook up to their power, each day will present new challenges. But that's part of the fun and I have tried to watch and learn from Petra Barran's London street food initiative Kerb (www.kerbfood.com), as well as being lucky enough to get hands-on experience working alongside friends in their van at Rainbo food (www.rainbofood.com). Not only was their passion and hard work a huge inspiration, they also taught me invaluable tricks of the trade, like not to underestimate how much blue kitchen roll I'll need (!), and how to remain calm when the queue is growing and watching your every move...Learn about accountability on Kickstarter