The Hudson Tea Building residential complex in Hoboken, at Fifteenth Street between Washington and Hudson, was for many years the site of the Lipton Tea company. So it seemed an appropriate place to interview a Hoboken resident and professional tea taster, Richard Enticott.
Interviewed at Ganache café in the complex, Enticott talked last week about his over 20 years of tea tasting, trading, buying, and selling. Oh, and drinking. Unable to find a good “spot of tea” here in the states, Enticott has blended all of his past experience and recently launched Brolly Tea.
Brolly Tea is now being sold on Amazon as well as local Hoboken spots including Empire Coffee & Tea, Aspen Marketplace, and Sobsey’s Produce.
Enticott was born in London. He didn’t know what to do after college, but an ad in the local newspaper pointed him to an unconventional career: a trained tea taster for Tetley. Say that ten times fast.
The job involved three years working at the headquarters in London West and two years living on plantations abroad in places like India and Africa, where the tea comes from. Though the salary was meager, Enticott was in.
As a trained tea taste taster, he got his own tasting spoon with his name engraved on it.
“You’d literally just taste and spit 60 teas in 15 minutes,” said Enticott. “Someone would follow you around and take down your comments.”
“Ever since I moved here I found it really hard to get a good cup of tea.” – Richard Enticott
“Even for a black tea, the blend is a variation. So a Tetley black tea this week may be completely different next week,” he explained. “Broadly speaking the recipes are fairly fixed. Ten percent may be from Sri Lanka and eight percent from Kenya, but the teas change and you don’t want them to taste different every time.”
Enticott said that one tea bag could combine 10 to 40 teas, and someone is responsible for matching the taste. This ever-changing blending is exactly why professional tea tasters and tea blenders are employed.
How Brolly was born
By way of Atlanta, Enticott came to Hoboken in 1999 and has since remained in the tea business, but not with Tetley.
“Ever since I moved here I found it really hard to get a good cup of tea,” said Enticott.
He added that most tea in the states comes from Argentina. However, 40 countries around the world grow tea. The two native species of plants stem from China and India though.
With the help of a design-savvy friend, Enticott birthed “Brolly,” which is a common name for an umbrella in England.
“I always knew the teas I would want to use for my product,” Enticott said.
He packaged the pouches overseas. When asked how many he ordered, Enticott said, “Too many; I don’t even want to tell you.”
However, right after Enticott launched the umbrella-branded packages, came the storm that changed everything. Hurricane Sandy ruined Enticott’s Hoboken home and put a damper on his tea party.
Enticott has not given up hope and has begun to sell his tea to local vendors.
The draw? Brolly tea boasts freshness.
“It is very hard for big companies to push freshness,” he said. “Who knows how long it takes to get these teas on the shelves.”
Enticott explained that whether it’s black tea, green tea, oolong tea or another, all teas are from the same green tea leaves, just processed differently.
Enticott drank green tea during his interview, but said he typically prefers black with milk, “the British way.”
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at email@example.com.