Infusing tea and alcohol dates to the 1700s with the Hot Toddy (first known as hot whiskey) appearing in 1786 and with green tea punches popular since colonial times in the Americas.
Last year, Newcastle blender Tea Venture Ltd., introduced Noveltea, an alcohol-based cold-brew tea that continues the British tradition. The company is one of several brewers and distillers exploring alcoholic tea. Last week the concept received a big vote of approval from investors who pledged £200,000 ($270,000) in the first week it was listed on www.crowdcube.com
In October 2017 the company raised £218,000 ($285,000) in a first round, returning 11 percent to investors through the popular British crowdfunding site.
In its first year Noveltea made the Startups 100 list and the recipient of the SIAL Shanghai Food & Beverage innovation award (bronze). The company, founded by German ex-pats Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia in 2016, attracted 200 investors initially. During the past year Tea Venture Ltd. has established strategic partners in China, Hong Kong, and Germany and found placement in Harrods, John Lewis, and Fenwick Food Hall.
The original Tale of Tangier is distilled from green tea, spearmint, dried lemongrass, dried apple, blackberry leaves and rum. A Tale of Earl Grey is distilled from black tea, juniper, and gin. The Tale of Oolong is an infusion of oolong tea with Scotch whisky.
Efferoth noted that in the distant past, small-still gin was often softened with tea. The teas Noveltea uses are cold brewed for eight hours using loose leaf tea to avoid undesired tannins.
Alan Balfour, a former whisky director at Diago, is chairman of Tea Venture Ltd. He told the Chronicle in Newcastle “in our first crowdfunding campaign, we overfunded in five days and received investment from around 300 individuals. Less than a year later, we are on track to achieve revenue growth of 380% and are ahead of our cash-flow budgets.”
Investors are cautioned that contributing funds does not mean they own a stake in the company. They are instead receiving a “mini-bond” that entitles them to regular interest payments. Mini-bonds are not insured by a third party or protected by government authorities.
The Crowdcube site notes: “If a business you invest in fails, neither the company you invest in – nor Crowdcube – will pay you back your investment. You should only invest an amount that you are willing to lose and should build a diversified portfolio to spread risk.”
Noveltea has its strongest representation in packaged goods locations but recently concluded on-trade deals with the Red Carnation hotels in London and Montpellier Group in Edinburg.