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Tea and Ticolino too.

De Marco's preoccupation has been to bring Ticolino--meaning his version of the tea stick--to the tea drinking public. Just now he is accomplishing this, despite a seemingly never-ending bout of technical twists and turns. His tea sticks are in production and on the Dutch out-of-home tea service market. With the coming year, they will also likely be placed on the international market.

De Marco's involvement with tea sticks goes back many years, and to the time his family-owned company was selling about half a million sticks annually of a version they imported into the Netherlands. According to De Marco, these tea sticks were increasingly problematic--the tea used was not of sufficient quality and leaked like fine sand, the holder itself was not very efficient and posed increasing environmental problems; for him the product was dowdy and lacked the style and presentation mass products demand. In sum, De Marco saw an urgent need to completely redesign the existing tea stick.

Four years later, De Marco has a tea stick in hand that meets his own high standards. To begin with, the tea by Rotterdam Tea Trade, is a treat for tea enthusiasts-- and children too, for that matter--and the stick designed to hold it also does it justice.

De Marco's tea stick is an elegant silver wand--yes, it does have an enchanted look--15 cm in length. The stick is shiny, crisply lined, feather light. Each holds two grams of the tea blend. Each is capped by a jaunty paper tag that acts both as logo (the only printing on the product) and holder. There are 286 perforations per stick, running in two separate banks midway up the length. Each perforation is of 0.08 cm diameter. The packaging material used is quite unique, with polypropylene outside and a tracing of aluminum inside. This is said to meet what could now be imagined as even the very strictest food regulation-standards, aluminum content for example is restricted to 0.0007%.

The Ticolino tea sticks are made on a machine De Marco has had designed and custom built. Following months of trials on a prototype, the first model is now running at his plant in Oss. The machine runs with such assuredness that one can envision armies of its mates pouring forth Ticolino tea sticks in years to come. Whether this comes to be, these new things are a joy to consider.

The machine fills, forms and tags 40 sticks per minute. The sticks are packed either in units of three boxes, 20 sticks to the box, or in large containers of 250 sticks. The sticks are being marketed in the Netherlands exclusively to the hotel, restaurant, care sector, and are available through about 250 cash-and-carry outlets.

To use a Ticolino, one merely sets it in a glass or tea cup of hot water, in a minute the classic tea color forms, in three to four minutes the tea is ready to drink (depending on your taste in warmth and strength). When ready, the tea stick can be laid down with virtually no dripping.

And the virtues of all this? First of all, says De Marco, one comes up with a cup quality unobtainable from teabags, but then too no spoon is required (ask restaurateurs, he adds, about their costs in maintaining the obligatory spoon in tea service). But too, his Ticolino is most certainly a point of novelty and fun. And what, he demands, does tea need more these days than a dash of novelty and fun?

Stressing this point, De Marco has had his designers trim Ticolino in something like Picasso-esque commercial art. If nothing else, the playful imagery is a welcome departure from what we've come to expect visually for tea, and too is as tasteful and alluring as the sticks themselves would seem to be.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Aldo de Marco's tea sticks
Author:Bell, Jonathan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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Next Article:Dutch company sets high standards for international hotel service.

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