Craig Coulton founded BLOOM in 2010 after his busy lifestyle had drained his immune system and made him ill. His recovery was naturally boosted by antioxidant-rich teas and with that, BLOOM was born. We find out how Craig turned his experiences into a business.
Can you introduce us to BLOOM – where the inspiration for launching came from and what makes you special?
Working as an architect, I was used to drinking coffee all day long to help me cope with long hours and a challenging workload – but after years of ‘neglect’ my body spiralled into a shut down. Towards the end of a long-running illness, I started drinking copious amounts of green tea in an effort to help restore my immune system. I wasn’t your typical tea drinker and at first I struggled to enjoy green tea – like so many people – but I was determined and carried a bottle of ice tea with me everywhere. I knew it was an excellent source of antioxidants that my body needed and a great way to stay hydrated.
I realised that drinking the same tea all day long would only have residual value and I’d be better off tailoring teas to suit my body’s changing needs throughout the day.
My interest in tea and herbal infusions grew from this and my appetite for better quality teas made me realise that there was a huge difference between cheaper tea bags containing dust and whole leaf teas and herbs that I was experimenting with. I also realised that drinking the same tea all day long would only have residual value and I’d be better off tailoring teas to suit my body’s changing needs throughout the day. For example, a lunchtime tea could include digestive ingredients that would be well placed for actively contributing towards digestive function when it was actually happening.
This principle of functional ingredients added to different teas for different times of day was further developed with the help of a master tea blender, where we also factored in the caffeine content of each tea. I’d start the day with a black tea, which has the most caffeine, then move onto a green tea mid-morning and a white tea at lunch, which had less caffeine in turn, before reintroducing a black tea for an afternoon ‘pick-me-up’ and then finally enjoying a caffeine-free herbal infusion in the evening with relaxing ingredients. It wouldn’t be long before this concept developed into my daily ‘Tea Treatment Plan’ and after six months, I decided to share my regime with others and BLOOM Tea was born.
What made you choose the brand name “Bloom”?
BLOOM was very much a wellbeing metaphor at a time that I was recuperating and a fitting parallel could be drawn with flourishing plants.
Matcha is rapidly becoming a popular market globally – why did you decide to offer this product alongside your teas and how do you separate yourself out from the crowd? Any marketing/branding strategies?
Drinking a cup of green tea is healthy but many of the antioxidants remain trapped within the tea leaves that are wastefully thrown away. The Japanese solved this dilemma by grinding green tea leaves into a very fine powder called matcha, which is whisked into hot water to make tea. The result is no leaves – no waste – only a nutrient-rich drink that’s naturally high in protein, fibre, vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iron. Plus it’s fat-free, salt-free and contains only three calories per serving.
Half a teaspoon of matcha contains more antioxidants (per gram) than goji berries, dark chocolate, pecans, walnuts, pomegranate, wild blueberries, acai berries, broccoli and spinach combined!
BLOOM has taken its organic matcha to the next level by adding functional ingredients such as milk thistle, ginkgo biloba and yerba mate to give matcha a modern makeover; it has remained plain and ‘grassy’ tasting for centuries. Now you can enjoy a variety of matcha lattes, ice teas or matcha shots, all suitable for vegetarians and vegans and free from all allergens. Half a teaspoon of matcha contains more antioxidants (per gram) than goji berries, dark chocolate, pecans, walnuts, pomegranate, wild blueberries, acai berries, broccoli and spinach combined!
Where do you source your ingredients from and how do you go about creating your individual flavour combinations?
Our tea and powder blends contain ingredients that come from all over the world. We are always blending and experimenting with different tasting teas, herbs, fruits and nuts. Some ingredients have well documented and published beneficial properties but don’t taste very nice, so not all functional ingredients work well when they are blended into matcha or mixed with loose teas and herbs. With that in mind we do our best to marry complementary flavours and occasionally introduce natural flavours for customers who prefer something fruity or fragrant.
You are stocked in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Planet Organic, Holland and Barrett, Ocado and Whole Foods Market – any key lessons learnt or advice for other entrepreneurs?
We have been very fortunate to work very closely with some fantastic retailers who value quality and something a little different. Tastes change as time passes so it’s important to always look ahead and develop new products that fit within a strong range that’s well priced and that have a USP that customers will understand.