The Miles Story
With a tradition in tea going back to his grandfather, Derek Miles continued in their footsteps with the tasting spoon and began his working career in London. The Square Miles was a busy part of the City packed with brokers, tea auctions and the stock exchange. Mincing, Phillpot and Rood Lane was often referred to as the ‘tea area’, the grand auction houses are now something of the past, in fact nothing remains of the old London tea company’s.
Why Porlock? Derek Miles has always loved the villages, coast and community on Exmoor and he had so many memories of the coast and the West Country along with connections in the area. In 1961 Derek moved from the City of London to Lock’s Cottage, Porlock. This is where the renowned Miles Tea & Coffee business began.
After Derek had purchased a small shop in Minehead he was offered work as an Inspector of Tea at Avonmouth, in those days every case of tea was bored and a sample extracted which was examined and sniffed by an Inspector for uneven leaf appearance or ‘taint’, after some time it became apparent that small lots of tea would be difficult to sell, so I purchased a few and started blending. This gradually expanded and Miles Tea became well known for its quality and taste. For 25 years Miles Tea was blended and packed in a small Porlock building called Capes Yard.
In 1971 Derek and an old friend Norman Halls bought his grandfathers tea business (Henry Miles & Co) which had been established in 1888. Eventually all production moved from the Midlands to Chepstow and then to Minehead and Porlock, where Miles still is today.
There are many things that makes Miles unique. Combining the modernity of today's state of the art coffee roasting and packing machinery, to the use of traditional methods for blending and tasting.
Perhaps the most interesting of all is the location. Based in the UK’s smallest National Park the stunning scenery inspires the Miles team daily and shines through all they do.
What about the future? Miles is constantly evolving, 2015 was a year of change with an extensive rebrand across the whole range. Miles Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate range can be found in Farm shops and a wide selection of supermarkets and convenience outles across the West Country and beyond. Miles are the only brand in the UK to be listed in the top 5 for tea and coffee sections of ‘Best Brands’ magazine 2016. This year has also seen them working alongside Visit Somerset, Visit Exmoor, Somerset County Cricket Club, St Margaret’s Hospice and Somerset Day to name a few. This is part of a strategic campaign to showcase the West Country and beyond.
John Halls and Derek Miles still taste tea daily and they would personally invite you to try Miles Tea, Coffee and Heavenly Hot Chocolate.
Exmoor is a place where John, Derek and the Miles team call home.
By Derek Miles:
'I began working in the tea trade in the City of London in the early 1950's. First for a dealers and then for a firm of Brokers in Plantation House in the ''tea area'' of Mincing, Phillpot and Rood Lane. I remember once wheeling a great chest of tea through the lanes to the stock exchange!
My background was in tea, as my Grandfather Henry Miles started a blending business in Birmingham in 1888. My father and uncle succeeded him and ran the business until 1974, where my friend and I, Norman Halls purchased it. After moving to Chepstow it became part of DJ Miles & Co. It was from there that we manufactured teabags and distributed it throughout South Wales. In London my work had been inspecting, tasting and selling tea. In 1961 I left London and bought a small shop in Minehead. Twelve months later, I was offered work as an Inspector of Tea at Avonmouth. In those days every case of tea was bored and a sample extracted which was examined and sniffed by an Inspector for uneven leaf appearance or 'taint'
I readily accepted the offer as it gave me an additional income and the opportunity to livein a beautiful part of the country. At Avonmouth a problem arose with the disposal of the odd chests of tea that Brokers had difficulty in selling. So I purchased a few and made a blend on a piece of hardboard and packed it up in the front room of my house in Porlock. This was the start of DJ Miles.
i moved from one house on Doverhay to another then settled at Capes Yard where I blended and packed tea for 25 years. The tea blender holding 1000 lbs, was stood upstairs directly above a table of packers!
We moved from Chepstow and opened additional premises in Porlock and Minehead in 1996, but during all this Porlock has remained the Head Office and where we now roast and pack our coffee.
I hope you enjoy my tea and coffee as much as I have enjoyed making it,
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