Kusmi Tea: A Brief History

A brief history of Kusmi Tea or P.M. Kousmichoff & Sons.

The eldest son of a humble Russian peasant family, Pavel Michailovitch Kousmichoff (1840-1908) left his native village at the age of 14 to look for work in St. Petersburg. He was taken in as a delivery boy in a tea store.

The manager of this store soon noticed the surprising qualities of this lad, who could neither read nor write, and decided to give him some training. He taught him about the trade and the secrets of the tea blends. When Pavel got married, his boss gave him a small shop as a wedding present. And this is how the P. M. Kousmichoff tea firm was born in 1867.

The business prospered and expanded: in 1901, Pavel already owned about ten shops and received a medal making him a freeman of the city of St. Petersburg. Once his eldest son Viatcheslav had finished his education, he started out in London where the company owned an outlet. After the death of his father in 1908, Viatcheslav returned to Russia and picked up the reins of the family business.

He expanded it enormously and secured it a prize at the International Exhibition in London. In 1917, this tea firm had no less than 51 shops in all the major Russian cities, such as Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg.

When the Russian Revolution began, Viatcheslav transferred part of his fortune to the London office and the company headquarters to 75 Avenue Niel, Paris 17, where the workshops are still found today.

It was at this time that he shortened the name of his tea firm to “Kusmi Tea”. The family firm, which was already large, went on to open offices and warehouses in Berlin, Hamburg, Belgrade and Zagreb. It received a gold medal in Hamburg in 1927 and a gold medal at the Paris Culinary and Gastronomic Exhibition the same year.

Business flourished until war was declared in 1939. Viatcheslav Kousmichoff died in 1946 and his son Constantin took over the family firm which had suffered due to the war. After a difficult period, he decided to sell the company which went through ups and downs without developing much for nearly thirty years.

Today, the Orebi family has picked up the torch, to carry on the tradition, expand the international scope of this tea firm and bring Kusmi teas to 21st century generations.

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