History of Bell

Norman Harper Bell was the founder of The Bell Tea Company. Norman Harper Bell’s driving passion was work. Not only an excellent tea blender, he was also an astute businessman, understanding the many essentials of marketing a first class product, good distribution, customer retention and public relations.

The Bell Tea Company has remained a New Zealand owned and operated business through the turbulent years of two World Wars and the Great Depression, each having a profound effect on its fortunes.

Today the Bell Tea Company is committed to bringing New Zealand new tastes in tea. Drinking tea has been part of New Zealand culture for so long and The Bell Tea Company is proud to continue to provide a range of refreshing great tasting teas for every occasion.

1862

Robert Wilson founded R. Wilson & Company, later to go into partnership with Norman Harper Bell.

1894

Norman Harper Bell arrived from Melbourne to join the Tea Department of R. Wilson & Company.

1898

Bell Tea introduced and trademark registered.

1902

Norman Harper Bell introduces coupons to New Zealand market offering gifts as an incentive to purchase Bell Tea.

1905

Norman Harper Bell commences business as a tea merchant (The Bell Tea Company)

1908

Norman Harper Bell dies of diabetes and his son Norman Harper Bell Jnr becomes Acting Manager. The Bell Tea Company is registered in November. NZ population 1.1 million. Tea consumption 6.97lb per capita.

1914

World War I. Bell one pound tins became enormously popular for sending food and comfort parcels to troops abroad as the tin dimensions met requirements to receive special postage concessions.

1923

Hope St property purchased in Dunedin – building of factory commenced.

1924

Hope St factory in full operation.

1932

Coupon Trading Act takes effect making it illegal to redeem coupons for anything other than cash or discount.

1937

Loose leaf tea production changed from tins to cardboard packaging.

1939

World War II – Tea control begins.

1960

Bell Tea horoscopes appeared in newspapers every Monday as lead advertising campaign.

1963

Amber Tips purchased from Fletcher Humphreys.

1966

First television advertising campaign for the company – the end of Horoscopes.

1967

Auckland factory built and production commenced. Decimal currency introduced.

1969

Teabags introduced into New Zealand. Edglets and Tiger tea brands purchased from J. Rattray & Son Ltd.

1974

Bell teabags launched.

1989

Twinnings agreement for Bell Tea Company to act as New Zealand agent including local production.

2003

Introduction of new eco-friendly packaging for teabags using barrier proofing technology to retain freshness.

2004

Launch of Bell Pure Ceylon. NZ Population 4.1 million. Tea consumption 0.98kg per capita.

2006

Launch of Bell Decaf. Acquisition of Burton Hollis Coffee Company.

2007

Launch of Bell Green Tea. Unfortunately the All Blacks didn’t progress past the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup.

2009

Launch of India Origin Tea – a blend of two of India’s most famous teas – Darjeeling and Assam.