The Long Journey
The story of The Tea Centre of Stockholm began far away from the Swedish capital. Many decades ago, a young boy was sent by his father from his northern Sri Lanka home to spend the summer with his uncle at a tea plantation in the southern part of the island nation. The trip was simply meant to provide a change of scenery between semesters, but the boy, curious and observant as he was, made more out of the plantation strolls and chats with the working people than anyone, himself included, could ever imagine.
One of the peculiar things that the boy noticed around the plantation were the big boxes with the strange writings on them – Amsterdam, London, Paris. He had no idea what these words meant at the time. Little did he know just how familiar he would become not just with the boxes and their mysterious contents, but also their destined journey.
Into the World
Years later, the boy had become a young adult. Vernon Mauris had now decided that his island home in the Indian Ocean was too small for him and his ambitious dreams. His sister gave him £13 which, together with the clothes he was wearing, were all he owned when he boarded a ship heading to London.
Menial work was exchanged for food during the month and a half long journey which allowed Vernon to see exotic places along the way such as the Suez Canal, Egypt, and Italy. The ever-attentive young man noticed something being unloaded almost everywhere that the ship docked – those same peculiar boxes that he remembered from his childhood.
Their mystery finally became clear to him. Leaves from the Sinhalese tea bushes were being shipped across the entire world in these boxes!
Arriving in England, a mix of chance and ambition soon set the young man on the road once more. While running errands to make a living, he bumped into Swedish businessmen that were in town for a meeting. Vernon made an impression and the businessmen told him to reach out if he ever found himself in Gothenburg. Never being the one to shy away from adventure, he promptly decided to drop everything and take off for the Swedish West Coast.
A business card in his pocket and a phone booth in Gothenburg – this was all Vernon had to kickstart his new life in Scandinavia. The astonished businessmen picked him up and found work for him in a factory. He quickly proved ambitious and intelligent enough to be promoted to shift manager but kept working the floor during other shifts as well since his dream of starting his own business would require a hefty starting capital.
His aspirations soon made him a big fish in a small pond at the factory and he found a new job at Kooperativa Förbundet (KF), a giant in the world of Swedish retail. A career move that brought the young man to Stockholm and would prove to be monumental.
After eleven years of learning everything there is to learn about the beverages through his work at KF – from countless tasting sessions and worldwide plantation visits to the business of importing – Vernon was finally ready to start his own business venture. In 1978, East West Scandinavia AB was founded.
The newly minted company was to import and sell wholesale quantities of top-quality teas from the world’s best plantations. Office quarters were leased on the so-called Hump of Hornsgatan, but the property owners and neighbours – mainly art galleries and other creatives – protested against the fine location being used merely for office space and requested that some kind of shop be set up.
And so, the Tea Centre of Stockholm was born.
Beginning as a purely circumstantial and tiny shop, the Tea Centre of Stockholm has become an iconic landmark in Södermalm and the crown jewel of East West Scandinavia AB. It is an old-world, homely shop, where only one product is in focus – tea. A passion for tea permeates the atmosphere of the shop, and even its furnishings are a delight to the true tea enthusiast. High-quality tea, personal service and good ethical standards are the hallmarks of the Tea Centre of Stockholm.
Wholesale remains an important part of the business. However, direct sales to the many tea lovers who come from around the world to visit the Hornsgatan boutique are what the company is best known for.
Passing the Torch
Vernon knew better than anyone what it takes to cultivate a deep passion for tea. With retirement looming, he made sure to pass as much of his knowledge on as possible to his son, Gihan Mauris. Like his father, Gihan spent parts of his youth on plantations around the world, learning from those with the most intimate of relationships to the precious plants, soaking in the terroir and preparing for his own future in the world of tea.
After years of both practical and theoretical preparation, receiving a formal degree in business and economics, and many hours of assisting his father in the shop, Gihan was finally handed the reins of the family business in 2011 and continues to manage East West Scandinavia AB and The Tea Centre of Stockholm in the spirit of Vernon.
The mission of the Tea Centre of Stockholm and its parent company East West Scandinavia AB is simple – providing enthusiasts around the world with the most exquisite teas and contributing to a wider knowledge and appreciation of the illustrious beverage.
With an abundance of variables giving tea its character, such as the cultivar, terroir, preparation technique, brewing ritual and much more, there is an entire universe to be discovered by the refined palate. As with wine, treading into the world of tea leaves one fascinated with the variety at hand and eager to learn more.
Vernon Mauris used to say that “Tea is Time”. By this he meant that drinking tea is not something that should be done hastily. Unlike many other beverages, truly enjoying a cup of tea and its wide-ranging and diverse flavours requires a few moments of peace and tranquillity.
In today’s world of constant connectivity, providing people with a few moments of peace over a cup of tea has become an increasingly important and appropriate task – one that we are proud to take on.