Meet our customer: Teatonics

Tuesday 08 September 2015

This month, we hear from organic and botanical tea blenders, Teatonics.

How and when did Teatonics start?
In 2012-13 we went travelling for a year around Latin America, from Panama to Argentina. We came back with a desire for a more mindful way of life, as well as a taste for yerba mate, a stimulating and antioxidant-rich leaf which is consumed like a tea out there. We got blending at the kitchen table, almost as a way of trying to beat the blues of being back in the UK, and found ourselves making some pretty innovative infusions with unusual flavour profiles, and positive mind-body effects.
What is unique about your company?
Perhaps this isn’t unique for a start-up, but we (Rosie and Charles) do absolutely everything with the help of some amazing friends and suppliers – from creating the blends and infusing them with essential oils, to designing packaging, serving samples at events and boxing up orders. Charles is a biochemist by training, and he brings that process-minded approach and spirit of experimentation to the blending process, which we like to think means our infusions end up tasting quite unlike other herbal teas on the market.
Who and where are your customers?
We currently sell through around 70 independent delis and wholefoods retailers, predominantly in the South West, with some in London and further afield too. We also export to Holland, where we’re gaining some fans through a great importer, and of course we sell through our own website too. Our customers are all ages and genders – there seems to be something about mate and its energising properties and associations with gaucho culture that mean it transcends traditional herbal tea audiences.
How’s the future looking for you? What are your plans?
Exciting – we recently won a major award called the Seed Fund, which was started by a group of philanthropic design, finance and retail strategy agencies to help elevate one fledgling food brand from the South West to another level. The prize is one year of mentoring and branding work from some really talented people who understand our values and want to help us grow our business in the right way. We are looking to move into some major premium retailers, and hopefully get yerba mate appearing on coffee shop menus up and down the land!
Why do you buy from OHTC? (What values and performance do you look for in a supplier? Reliable, BRC A etc.)
As a company the OHTC has such a long history of making relationships in the organic sector internationally, and their skills and contacts when it comes to sourcing are second to none. The quality marks that they hold are naturally of value to us, but most of all we like working with the OHTC because we feel at home when we visit. Where else would you get to have a wander in some beautiful herb fields and then get given some muddy, home-grown artichokes to take away with you by the MD!
Why is organic/provenance important to you?
We want to be as accountable as possible to the people who buy our products about where the ingredients have come from, and how they’ve been grown. It is important to us to know that the estates growing our herbs care about how they do things, from stewarding the soil to the welfare of their workers. Add to this the fact that when you brew tea, you’re essentially taking fine herbs and plunging them in boiling water, so making sure they are free from pesticides and herbicides just makes good sense.
Please tell us an unusual fact about you or your company!
We’ll tell you a secret – unlike Rosie (who has always been a tea-fiend), until yerba mate came along Charles didn’t even drink tea – he was always a coffee man!
What is your favourite cup of tea/or long cool relaxing drink?
In the summer sun it has to be a twist on tereré (ice-brewed mate as served in Paraguay), using our grapefruit-infused Mind-Awakening Yerba Mate blend. We fill a jug with iced water, cold brew three or four teabags for about ten minutes then add a grating of lemon and orange zest, plus some fresh mint. You can even turn it into a cocktail – gin and teatonics!