Jurriaan’s Blooming Tulip Tea: A Dutch-Chinese Fusion
Jurriaan Julsing works as a quality consultant at our Dutch subsidiaries Metrohm Applikon and Metrohm Autolab. But in his spare time, he has developed a product that has nothing to do with chemical analysis—or chemistry in general for that matter. Outside working hours, the Dutchman with a flair for Chinese culture produces blooming tea, a typically Chinese product, with a Dutch twist!
Jurriaan has been working with Metrohm for more than two years. He spends one day per week each at Metrohm Autolab and Metrohm Applikon, giving support on quality assurance. Maintaining the quality management system, setting up new processes, audits, and supplier audits are all part of his job.
Before his work with Metrohm, Jurriaan worked at a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer. His job gave him the opportunity to go to China to do studies in «Chinese business and culture». His time in the Middle Kingdom left Jurriaan with a special connection to Chinese culture. Back home in the Netherlands he wanted to put this to a use. So he started importing blooming tea from China to sell it to local flower shops. «Drinking tea is something you do together with your friends and family, having fun times,» says Jurriaan about his connection to tea.
Blooming tea consists of tea leaves and flowers, which are tied into a small bundle and dried. Once it is left to steep in hot water, the bundle opens up like a blooming flower.
Then Jurriaan got the idea to add some Dutchness to his product by producing blooming tea with tulips. Making this idea reality, however, was a challenge. «The tulip will end up in your glass of tea,» Jurriaan explains, «so you don’t want any pesticide in it. But there are only few qualified organic tulip growers in the Netherlands.» But Jurriaan found one who was immediately enthusiastic about the idea of blooming tulip tea. «Before I knew it, I received a bunch of tulips to do tests.»
«The most challenging part was the drying process of the tulips,» says Jurriaan, «because tulips consist mostly of water and that makes it difficult to retain the right shape and color while drying.» Jurriaan tested various drying processes, from freeze drying to CO2 drying to drying with silicones. The solution was a drying oven, which can also be used to dry fruits and vegetables. «As a bonus, this made my girlfriend quite happy,» he jokes.
Once he had found the optimum drying time and temperature, Jurriaan sent some tulips to the tea producer in China, where the tulips are combined with green silver needle tea. This tea is used for its health benefits and its soft, fresh taste, and it has the advantage that it can be easily shaped. This makes it perfect to form the bulbs that contain the dried tulip flower.
The product is set to be finished and hit stores by February 2019. «We’re focusing on flower shops, souvenir shops, and Schiphol Airport. But I also think the blooming tea would make a nice corporate gift,» says Jurriaan. A group of students from the Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam (GLR), a Dutch college for media, design, and technology, is currently working on the product identity. This includes the logo and packaging, among others. For the students, this assignment is part of their Packaging class and, at the same time, is a great opportunity for them to work on a real product that is going to be sold and used.