Mad Hatter Tea on track for success with railway contract

Passengers aboard Grand Central Railway services are on track to enjoy a curiously refreshing new cuppa from premium tea brand, the Matter Hatter Tea Company.

The catering contract has been awarded to the Richmond-based tea company to supply the railway’s high speed express trains operating between Sunderland, Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk, York and London.

After ten years in development, Richmond wholesaler Michael Harrison, who runs specialist fine food business Northern Select Foods, has turned his passion for a good brew into a new business venture with the launch of sister division, the Mad Hatter Tea Company, a new quality tea brand aimed at the catering, retail, wholesale, hospitality and gift markets.

The spirited journey from conception to realising his dream of launching a new tea brand involved painstaking research, talks with the Indian Tea Board and numerous overseas trips to visiting different tea plantations before he found just the right blend that offered consistent quality, flavour and taste.   The final perfectly balanced blend - 80% sourced from a variety of tea plantations in India and 20% from Kenya - offered great depth of colour, combined with a rich, smooth and curiously refreshing, clean taste that appeals to both adults and children alike.

Grand Central Railway’s managing director, Tom Clift, discovered the tea at a North Yorkshire farm shop and loved the taste and quality so much he wanted to share it with his customers.  The tea will be served to all passengers aboard Grand Central services from London to North Yorkshire and the Durham coast, as well as on the new ‘West Riding’ service from London to Bradford which starts operating in May 2010.  To accompany the refreshing cuppa, rail passengers can also enjoy 5 varieties of biscuit from the Mad Hatter Tea Company’s complementary product range.

The Mad Hatter Tea Company was so called because it is based in Richmond, the North Yorkshire town where Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll went to school and where his genius was first discovered.  Lewis created the Mad Hatter, who was initially encountered at a tea party and the whimsical character shares the same initials as Michael Harrison, the founder, who has been dubbed on many occasion as “mad as a hatter”!

“The aim of the company is to put the spotlight on a quality beverage that simply revives the spirit, enriches the mood and adds peppiness and cheerfulness to the substance of life.  Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world and with the Mad Hatter’s unique connection with tea and the base of our business, it seems appropriate that they are now blended together so everyone can experience a taste of Wonderland.  We are absolutely delighted to be supplying Grand Central Railway and hope passengers enjoy the refreshing taste of our tea on their commute.” said Michael Harrison.

Sean English, operations director of Grand Central Railway said “Grand Central has a well established reputation for working closely with the communities we serve and supporting local businesses along our route. So we were particularly pleased to discover that the wonderfully named Mad Hatter Tea Company not only offers an excellent product range, but is also based in Richmond, North Yorkshire - home to many of our regular passengers.  As a convert to Mad Hatter tea I know that it will be enjoyed by our passengers.”