I spend a fair amount of time in Germany, and I am regularly surprised by the country’s thriving tea culture. In Germany, there are numerous retail tea shops on high streets that often carry over a hundred teas, supermarkets and health shops stock large selections of regular and herbal teas, and the northwest region of the country known as East Frisia consumes the most tea per capita in the world. I have also recently discovered a German-based company called Teekampagne, which has one of the most innovative and ethical business models I have ever heard about.
In 1985, Prof. Günter Faltin started Teekampagne to show his economic university students a model of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Faltin’s venture sought to challenge high prices in the existing tea market by creating a simplistic business model that could in turn offer tea at a lower price to consumers. By 1988, Teekampagne’s sales were already at 80 tons per year, and the company was granted permission to use the Tea Board of India seal of authenticity. Sales increased to 300 tons by 1997, which made Teekampagne the largest importer of Darjeeling tea in the world. But what really makes Teekampagne a remarkable business is its commitment to customers through transparency and traceability. In 2004, the company signed a disclosure agreement with the Tea Board of India to ensure that its Darjeeling has not been blended with non-Darjeeling teas. And in 2006, Teekampagne created an online system that allows customers to track the tea they purchased as it travelled from field to cup (see more below). Teekampagne’s business model keeps the cost of its tea low by not using middle people and selling directly to customers, and by not using expensive marketing campaigns – just word of mouth marketing by customers. You can read more about Teekampagne’s business philosophy and tea on their website.
Transparency and traceability
When you receive your Teekampagne order, you will notice that the back of the bag has numerous details about the product. The top of the bag I received (see picture below) indicates that the tea has been tested for 486 residues by the SOFIA laboratory in Berlin. No residues were found. The middle of the bag indicates the tea gardens where the tea was plucked: Dhajea, Lingia, Marybong, Nagri Farm, Phoobsering. To the right of the garden names is a Bio (i.e. organic) certification label. And at the bottom left of the bag, you will find the trace code: FF113B
When the trace code is entered online, you will receive even more detail information about the tea, such as tea gardens, plucking and production dates, testing dates for residue, when the tea was packed, etc (see picture below). Under these details, you will also see a list of scanned documents about residue testing and certification by the Tea Board of India.
What Teekampagne stocks
Since Teekampagne’s business model centres on simplicity, it does not stock a massive range of teas. It does Darjeeling teas, and it does them well. Customers can pick from first and second flush Darjeelings, a blend of selected Darjeelings, a green Darjeeling and Darjeeling teabags. All of the tea Teekampagne sells is organic.
Shipping costs range from 3.20€ to 10.00€, depending on where you live. It is 10.00€ to ship to the UK.
Please note: Images at the top of post belong to Teekampagne