LONDON – If you're roaming the streets of London and fancy a hot cup of tea in the cold British weather, a taste of home will not be hard to come by. A new Israeli brand of tea infusions has recently entered the English market and won the hearts of many London diehard tea fanatics.
However, you won't be able to identify the brand by its package, which does not mention Israel as the country of origin.
The Israeli tea is manufactured in Bethlehem of Galilee in the Jezreel Valley by a little label called The Spicy Way.
"Who would have thought we would manage to sell tea infusions in the most exclusive market," says Avi Zithersphieler, founder and owner of The Spicy Way. Some would consider the Israeli tea's success as a case of "selling ice to the Eskimos," however it is a known fact that the English do not make their own tea and import varieties from around the world.
Tea leaves are not traditionally grown in Israel. But while some of the ingredients in The Spicy Way's tea infusions are imported, the farm does grow its own medicinal herbs and coats the infusion fruits with it, making 50% of the product home grown.
The London packages do not mention the brand's country of origin – Israel. Elements in The Spicy Way claim the original labels did include the word Israel and that there must have been a mistake. However, the English importer claimes there was no oversight.
Importer Karen Pomeranz says they encountered "unpleasantness" after mentioning Israel in the tea label and notes that by stating the product is manufactured in the Galilee they are maintaining a certain level of ambiguity. "We were concerned that people in Britain would not purchase our products," she says.
'Our tea won the English over'
Zithersphieler founded the Spicy Way herb and spice farm, which grows and produces spices, herbs and blends, as well as tea infusions made with herbs, fruits and spices, eight years ago. The farm went on to launch 12 franchise stores across Israel, one of which captured the interest of two English importers who recently visited Eilat.
Last May, the farm entered the English market in seven little London boutique stores. It now boasts 23 stores selling its products in greater London.
"Our tea is parboiled with hot water leaving the special fruits to be eaten with a spoon later," Zithersphieler notes. "It won the English over."
The farm has already sold several tons of tea in England and is planning to start a chain. It is also selling herbs and spices in select stores.
Despite there being no mention of Israel on the labels, Sam Fitter, manager of the Hampstead Butcher and Providore delicatessen, which sells the Israeli spices says: "There is a big Jewish community here and people are happy to use Israeli spices."
The tea is proving a great success in England. "I was initially suspicious of the package and concept," says Emily Tauborn, a local consumer. "But the shop had a tasting and after having tried it I fell in love."
One of the reasons for the Israeli brand's success is the British people's recent move to healthier nutrition.
Prices, however, remain significantly high. A 175 gr. (0.386 pound) packet of spices is sold for £3.75, double the cost of a regular herb packet, while tea infusions are sold for a whopping £6.75.
Yaniv Halily contributed to this report
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