Ringtons Tea to begin importing via the Port of Tyne
Enough tea bags to fill more than a billion cups each year - it should have lovers of a warm brew licking their lips in anticipation.
Ringtons, the Newcastle-based firm with a proud 105-year history, signed a deal on Tuesday to import its tea from countries including Kenya, India and China via its home docks at the Port of Tyne.
The firm originally shipped its tea direct to Tyneside before logistical reasons forced the operation south.
Ringtons chief executive Simon Smith, great-grandson of the company's founder Samuel Smith, said he was proud things had gone "full circle".
"Originally the tea that Ringtons bought was delivered into the Tyne in the early 1900s when my great-grandfather was in charge of this business," he said.
"I saw a 1932 film of tea being delivered to the Tyne last week and it's a tremendous piece of history.
"To bring it back to the North East with a world-class partner is terrific. It makes complete sense, it's a natural thing for us to do."
- In 1907, Samuel Smith began selling tea from a horse and carriage to people in Heaton, Newcastle
- The company has been in the family ever since
- It delivers tea directly to over 280,000 customers
About 12 million kg of tea will come through the port before it is transferred to the firm's blending facility in Longbenton.
At present the containers are packed with tea from India dock in Felixstowe before they are driven to a warehouse in Wakefield.
Ringtons says the new arrangements mean its fleet of vehicles will do 100,000 fewer miles each year.
Down at the Port of Tyne, they already process all the Tetley tea arriving in Britain.
The port's chief executive Andrew Moffat said: "That expertise and experience we have developed over the years has helped us get this agreement.
"Our location and distribution services mean that containers and tea samples can be brought directly from ship to warehouse and delivered to Ringtons within hours."
Ringtons chairman Nigel Smith said the deal was just like "coming home" for the firm.