The Kent Tea and Trading Company is today run by myself Richard Smith along with my Mother Mrs Janet Smith. The family's story in the Tea Trade started when my Grandparents went to India in the 1920's from Lincolnshire to pursue a life in Assam in North East India.
Grandfather Mr Robert Stammers worked on and ultimately was the manager of the famous Behora Tea Estate. The picture shows them upon retirement with all of their staff gathered around. Their daughter Janet married Mr Malcolm Smith in India and the family continued its association with Tea with my father working for Plantation company's in Calcutta and ended up in charge of the Warren Plantation Company.
Upon retiring in the late 1970's to England we returned to the village of Pluckley. We were asked by the local village grocer if we could get hold of any good tea as it was hard to find. We did and Pluckley Tea was born.
Our first packing operation was at the old house in Pluckley. A room was set aside for tea to be packed by hand. Without machines at that stage we used to buy tea chests full of tea bags and count them by hand into piles of 10's and then 8 making up 80 Tea Bags.. Then we acquired our first tea bagging machine which could produce 160 tea bags per minute. Soon Mother suggested we left the house as things were getting a bit much.... so we moved down the road to Pivington Mill and found an old grain store where we are to this day.
Today we trade under the name of The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company which is an amalgamation of The Kent Tea & Trading Company, The Sussex Tea Company and Tea and Coffee dot com ltd.
A lovely reminder of the times is the The Tea Planters Poem .
To Planter Friends I lift a glass
To you, who've kept alive
The memory of Planters past
Across dark moors of time
To you who know this simple truth
And show it near and far
It is the tales we tell ourselves
That make us who we are
So let us drink to the Tea Trade
Its sorrow and its solace
And lift our glasses in the air
To you and whosoever else
And to the Trade that bears the tea name
My sisters and my brothers
I'd rather be a Tea man in your eyes
Than an accountant in any others.