Personally, looking back on the last 16 years in business I am most grateful and thankful to the amazing SUKI TEAm for keeping the business going through this last year. Like everyone else, the team have been battling fears about the pandemic and have had to juggle home and work. My thanks are for the dedication to keep going, diversifying when we needed to, and staying positive despite the challenges. I love what SUKI has become, whatever the significance or the situation, tea drinking is about ceremony, as informal as taking a break or connecting with people. I would like to take an opportunity to raise my hat to the SUKI TEA MAKERS and hope that we can all share a real-life brew together soon. Here is to a long-awaited return to café’s opening …. and to the next 16 years!

This time last year, the world was given an opportunity to rethink what matters. I genuinely do not remember a time that I worked harder than this last year, but with a sense of guilt, I admit to enjoying the peace in the early stages of lockdown. As societal and business pressures faded away there was a sense of calm and a real focus on wellbeing. Everything we associate with tea in fact. As a business we knew our resilience was going to be tested so, we put the kettle on, got into Zen mode and started planning. We ramped up our online focus, hosted online pub quizzes, collaborated with other brands on social media and even launched a Black Bush Blend collaboration with Bushmills. Green tea rocketed in sales as people moved towards a healthier choice of drink.

The experience that SUKI offers that is so well enjoyed in café is now being replicated at home. There’s an enjoyment to be had with a real teapot on a tray with proper tea leaves.

We are at a pivotal time in tea history - poised for change. As awareness and knowledge of really good tea is growing, there are groups like the European Specialty Tea Association coming together with the idea to establish a community of tea lovers, a network and meeting place for people with a passion for real tea, who care about its quality, standards and presentation. I voluntarily joined the board last year to help the mission.

Having trodden the path (and tripped up a few times) of a start-up I have always given time to anyone seeking advice starting a business. As personal situations have changed for many with in the pandemic Annie and I were asked to tell our story of our start up. . .we journey back to Ormeau Park where we had our first conversation about starting a tea business.

Head over to watch the video of how we started out - as always if anyone wants to chat through ideas, getting started or aspirations - I'm always free for a cuppa!!

It was whilst walking from the Ravenhill Road to the Belfast’s city centre that Annie Irwin and Oscar Wooley decided to start a business. The original idea was to establish a single teahouse in Belfast. They now supply over 2500 thousand outlets across 22 countries and their brand is recognised the world over with a global customer base that has loyally switched to online sales and tea drinking at home during the Pandemic. This is the story of Annie, Oscar and Suki!