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Cuppas of Belfast brew in the mists of Kigali

17 February 2010

Tea lovers in Rwanda’s capital Kigali are now enjoying cuppas of Belfast Brew from Suki Tea, the Northern Ireland blender

Suki Tea has supplied a range of loose leaf teas to the renowned Bourbon Café outlets in Kigali, a popular rendezvous for tourists en route to the Volcanoes National Park home of Rwanda’s famed ‘gorillas in the mist’.

The deal to supply products, including Suki’s Belfast Brew, a gold winner in the prestigious UK Great Taste Awards, came from the company’s relationship with the David Williamson Rwanda Foundation, a charity that is helping to develop employment opportunities for people in one of Africa’s poorest nations.

The charitable foundation, formed in memory of the late David Williamson, who was managing director of Matthew Algie, the leading Glasgow coffee merchants, helped set up Bourbon Cafes as an outlet for Rwanda’s small coffee growers and to provide employment opportunities.

Oscar Woolley, Suki Tea director, says: “David Williamson is an inspirational figure to us. I certainly drew great inspiration from his commitment to and knowledge of the tea business. I was privileged to know him and to share his interest in quality tea in particular. Securing business with the Bourbon Cafes in Kigali is a great endorsement of our range of premium teas.

“Rwanda is certainly our most remote export market to date. We are delighted to be associated with the Bourbon Cafes, an impressive and important initiative for coffee-growing co-operatives in Rwanda. Our teas are also sourced on a Fair Trade basis,” he adds.

Suki’s gourmet teas are served alongside coffee in the Bourbon Cafes, which are named after the bourbon coffee variety of gourmet Arabica coffee grown in Rwanda, an east African nation steadily recovering from the devastation and genocide of a brutal civil war in the nineties.

Formed in 2005 by Mr Woolley and Annie Rooney, his business partner, Suki Tea has grown from selling its products from stalls at the weekly St George’s Food Market in Belfast and the regular continental markets in the city. It has won international awards, including UK Great Taste Awards, and is now supplying customers in Europe, the US and Japan.

It now sources its teas from specially selected plantations worldwide. Among the company’s range of teas are Fairtrade Breakfast Tea, Green Tea with Ginseng, Fairtrade Darjeeling, Organic Camomile and Organic Rooibos, and fruity infusions including Mango Tango, Apple Loves Mint, and the exotic rare Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls.

Regular clients for the teas include gourmet restaurants such as Jamie Oliver’s inspired ‘Fifteen’ restaurant at Watergate Bay, Cornwall, Rick Stein’s ‘The Seafood Restaurant’ at Padstow, Cornwall, and the Donnybrook Fair ‘Eat Up’ Restaurant in Dublin.

The company has achieved SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) accreditation, an assessment process for smaller food companies, which ensures consistently quality services for customers.

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