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.


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


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


Bell Tea introduced and trademark registered.


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


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


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.


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.


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


Hope St factory in full operation.


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


Loose leaf tea production changed from tins to cardboard packaging.


World War II – Tea control begins.


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


Amber Tips purchased from Fletcher Humphreys.


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


Auckland factory built and production commenced. Decimal currency introduced.


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


Bell teabags launched.


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


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


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


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


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


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