Profile: Paper & Tea, Berlin, Germany
I’ve been curious about the growing popularity of quality teas worldwide, wondering if they signify an opportunity for kombucha brands to appeal to some of the same consumers. My review of The Republic of Tea noted the origins of this trend in the United States in the 1990s. While in France earlier this year, I spotted two quality tea stores in La Rochelle. Therefore, I was fortunate to meet tea sommelier and ‘Head of Tea Experience’ for Berlin-based Paper & Tea, Eduardo Molina Anfossi, at the November Kombucha Summit. At the time, I missed out on the opportunity to visit one of P&T’s Berlin stores in Germany, but Eduardo scheduled time to talk with me on the phone.
Paper & Tea is a Berlin-based company and pioneer in a worldwide movement toward enjoying high-quality teas. Founded by Jens de Gruyte in 2011, they have been working to create a stronger market awareness for good tea and a modern tea culture. These marketing lessons are clearly transferable to any brand wanting to introduce quality kombucha. The trend to refined teas was not an overnight thing. No more than kombucha is enjoying overnight success. Indeed, it took ten years for P&T to achieve significant growth. Just so, it’s still early days in most countries of kombucha. As quality tea gains market share, so, Ipso facto kombucha.
Jens’ passion and motivation to found a tea company are apparent in this exquisite video:
Just as there is a ‘kombucha philosophy’ around gut health, embracing a new trend, and breaking down preconceptions about what an acceptable beverage looks and tastes like, so P&T has identified the thousand-year-old philosophy of tea drinking:
Tea is much more than just a drink. It connects us as a medium of human communication, culture, inspiration, and creativity. And that’s just what we want to bring alive with you. Together we want to explore new horizons, exchange ideas, and create exciting encounters.
P&T sells hand-processed pure, whole-leaf, and herbal teas of the highest quality. They offer a collection of classics such as white, green, black, yellow, Oolong, and Pu-Erh tea, all from carefully chosen growing regions.
Each of P&T’s growing number of stores offers a quality experience. They are venues designed to host the enjoyable experience of drinking tea with friends.
They are called ‘Paper and Tea’ because the original store in the elegant Charlottenburg neighborhood stocked paper “like tea, a medium of communication.” They still celebrate communication by hosting a series of creative Tea Time Sessions, as in this example:
A Tea Time Session will take place in Cologne: And this time, you can let your creativity run wild. As you would expect from Paper & Tea, it’s all about paper, pens, and plenty of inspiration.
In her hand lettering workshop, Gaby from schriftschatz.de will take you into the world of “beautiful writing” and teach you the basics of calligraphy. She emphasizes the design of the individual letters, compositions, and overall design. Techniques and materials are discovered and remixed over and over again. Ornaments of flourishes, banners, bows, and lines are added as one fancy. The attention to detail creates a harmonious overall picture in hand lettering, which conveys the idea at first glance. Of course, it comes with the perfect tea accompaniment.
Likewise, their online store is clean and easy to navigate, with free EU-wide shipping for orders over €100.
It does not take a marketing genius to see how a savvy kombucha brand could move beyond the limits of the usual taproom experience (often modeled on the chili and chips craft beer taprooms) to something more … refined .. like this.
Since launching 11 years ago, P&T has had to educate consumers in the German-speaking regions they sell into. Their challenge was to convince a predominately coffee drinking population to explore the world of tea for the first time, unlike countries such as the UK and Australia, where the task is to convince people to switch from a daily cuppa to better quality tea.
They see their mission as democratizing tea. They sell 60-70% pure teas but have expanded into tea blends as well as stocking a wide range of tea accessories. Their tea-tasting sessions are offered both in stores and online.
It took them ten years to seed the market, slowly getting to know their clients, educating, and refining their offerings. Until last year they only had five stores. By the end of this year they will have opened seven more. In 2023 they plan to expand further, into French and English-speaking regions. The growth was driven organically via word of mouth, with high-end stores driving consumer acceptance.
Listen to the podcast to hear Eduardo describe P&T’s origins, mission, and future potential .