Imperial Teas of Lincoln

Imperial Teas of Lincoln

Imperial Teas of Lincoln

Imperial Teas of Lincoln

Imperial Teas of Lincoln

I do not believe I have ever met a woman as rude as in this shop.

Imperial Teas of Lincoln, located in a Norman house c 1170-80, halfway up Steep Hill, used to be the other side of the street.

I thought they were closed, as very dark inside, if so, a wasted climb up the hill. But no, I tried the door and they were open. A slim woman, dark skirt, white blouse, could have been straight out of a Victorian photo, was serving what I assumed to be two Americans.

I had a wander around the shop. Quite literally, hundreds and hundreds of jars or tins of different sizes labelled with the tea they contained, and dotted around what I took to be Japanese or Chinese cast iron tea pots, very shallow and large diameter, the like of which I had not seen before.

A photo looking through the door of the woman serving, of the containers of tea, of the tea pots, but best ask.

Will have to ask. No, you cannot, but I will ask the manager. This surprised me, but I patiently waited.

An old crone came out from the back and started ranting and raving at me: You would not expect to take photos in M&S, why do expect to take photos in here? She was sick and fed up with people poking around in the shop, video cameras being stuck in her face, of people poking their noses into her tins and business rivals stealing their ideas, and on and on she ranted and raved.

I was astounded by her outburst. Maybe she was mad, not just unbelievably rude.

I said I could see no harm in anyone setting up a rival shop, and that pictures were helping to put her on the map. But she was having none of it, it merely set her off again, or maybe she had only paused to catch her breath.

What is anyone going to steal? Unless they work there or hack into their computers, only thing worth stealing would be suppliers, blends they use.

I could understand no flash, no people in the pictures.

How long does tea keep before it loses its freshness? With so many teas, unless they have a massive turnover, do business on the net, very questionable how fresh.

I asked did they not serve teas or have tasting, as I had heard they did. She said no, only in the summer, and if I wished to try their teas, she suggested I visited Pimento Tea Rooms as they supplied the tea.

I then left. Had I been about to make a purchase, I would have walked out, leaving it on the counter.

I would have liked to have asked her about their teas, where they sourced them from, but I was not going to waste any more time with this unpleasant crone.

I contrast her rudeness with Stokes, who have gone out of their way to be helpful.

Small businesses cannot compete on price as they lack the buying power. They can only survive on offering quality and service. Service and politeness in Imperial Teas of Lincoln obviously in very short supply. If they treat everyone like this, I am surprised they remain in businesses. It is one thing being quirky, but not outright rude.

I have visited many indie coffee shops and tea shops. All have been only too happy to explain to me what they are about, they take a great pride in what they do, they are happy to share, for photos to be taken.

It begs the question: What has Imperial Teas of Lincoln got to hide?

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5 Responses to “Imperial Teas of Lincoln”

  1. Atsuko Okada Househam Says:

    Sorry to hear you had an unpleasant experience at this favourite tea shop of mine. I live near Newark and and I always buy their tea. You asked what you missed from this shop but you missed A LOT. I used to make a regular trip to London to buy teas from speciality shops incl Fortnum Mason (that was before online shopping days) but stopped now. The teas you can get from Imperial is as good as any of them in London. Their signature Earl Grey called China Moon is the best I have ever tasted, their best quality Darjeeling
    Is on a par with that of Fortnum Mason (confirmed after blind tasting among my friends). And furthermore they have a amazing collection of Chinese tea such as oolong, jasmine etc. And some of best ones really taste heavenly! You have to try them to believe it. And if you don’t want to face this rude woman again to get their tea, you can order them online. ( I understand their online business is doing well. In fact my friend who lives near Leeds now regularly buys their tea online after I took her to the shop and the cafe downstairs once which was open for the summer as you mentioned in your article. ) I don’t mean to say this shop owners attitude was acceptable but it is not right to hint their tea is rubbish.

  2. Ben Poole Says:

    Dear Keith,

    I’m sorry to hear you had an unpleasant experience in the shop. I’m afraid you are only telling your side of events and in a rather nasty way. This would seem to verify the attitude you exhibited according to how the incident was reported to me by both members of staff on duty that day. I believe that manners is a two way street and our staff cannot be expected to stand abuse just to stop someone like yourself picking a fight and then relishing posting a one sided version of events. Your first port of call should have been to contact myself through our open channels of communication if you had any genuine grievance.

    I won’t answer all of the questions you asked but I think with a little logic you might answer some yourself. We’ve been open for 22 years and have a booming business, thanks to the goodwill generated by our customers, in response to our service. If the tea had been stuck in the caddies that long I suspect we wouldn’t still be here.

  3. keithpp Says:

    One moments thought and reflection would show how ludicrous your comments.

    Why would I walk into your shop to pick a fight? At no time did I abuse anyone. I was so stunned, I walked out of the shop as I did not feel safe as I feared I was being accosted by a mad woman.

    I walked in because I was interested, and I am always willing to support small specialist retailers. I was especially intrigued by the teapots.

    I have found, around the world, people who love what they are doing, love to talk about it, be they specialist tea shops, coffee shops.

    Indeed, in Lincoln, Stokes went out of their way to be helpful.

    The one exception, indeed the only exception, Imperial Teas.

    An old crone can out of her hidey-hole and started screaming and shouting at me. I had to conclude she was stark staring mad.

    And no I have not given a one side account, I described what actually happened.

    By all means stick your head in the sand and pretend what happened never happened, based on what, you asking many months, almost a year after the event?

    If I was you, I would be worried I had someone like this working in the shop, She is not doing you any favours. Whatever skills she may have, people skills is not among them.

    You say I should have spoken to you. How was I to know of your existence? I did not see a sign warning of the old crone and to seek your help if approached.

    As for the teas. If I see a large number of tins, I assume all contain tea and not for show, and no evidence of any customers (I contrast with Stokes, always very busy), then it is a reasonable assumption, that apart from popular teas, they must sit there for a very long time.

    As for trying the teas, I did try in Pimento Tea Rooms, the tea shop opposite, where in contrast to your shop, I found very pleasant staff. And yes, the tea was of high quality.

    As for the old crone, I made inquiries, I found quite a reputation, not only me who has had this experience. It would appear you are the only one not to know.

    If it was my shop, she would be fired.

    The other lady in the shop was very pleasant. Whilst the tirade was going on, she stood there looking very embarrassed And before the old crone came out of her lair, she did warn me to expect a bad reaction.

  4. Phil Craven Says:

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience Keith but I must back Ben and the staff here. I’ve just left Lincoln but was there for five years and I never had anything but exemplary service from the owners and staff. They really know their stuff and make some of the most inspired blends I’ve come across.

    It seems like the incident has been a little sensationalised in your retrospective account: your description of the lady as an ‘old crone’ and likely ‘mad’ is a bit over the top wouldn’t you say? I think I know the lady you mean and I’ve never found her to be like that at all, and anyone could be excused a little annoyance at someone coming in, taking photos, and then saying there’s no problem in opening up a rival tea shop.

    Anyway, if you’re nearby do try it again, it really is a jewel of a shop and don’t let the one experience put you off when so many other discerning customers vouch by it.

  5. keithpp Says:

    My account was neither sensationalised, nor retrospective, it was a contemporaneous account of what took place.

    I have described the experienced as was. I was also warned by the assistant to expect a negative reaction. Indeed she was quite frightened of what the reaction would be. I also made enquires locally, and found I was not the first to be treated in this manner. I left the shop under the impression the old crone was stark staring bonkers.

    You may be right they serve excellent teas, indeed I was able to try their tea in the tea shop opposite, where the service was excellent.

    People who take a pride in what they are doing, welcome people asking questions, taking pictures, at least that has been my experience the world over

    It was she who claimed opening up a rival tea shop, not me.

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