Editor's spotlight: Startup Focus

Success brews for vitamin enriched tea brand

By Nikki Cutler

- Last updated on GMT

A husband and wife team who founded the first hot drinks with up to 100% RDA of essential vitamins in every cup hope this year will see their three-year-old brand reach boiling point as its sales bubble over to international markets.

James and Jade Dawson chose to dunk themselves into the deep end of entrepreneurship when they left successful careers in Dubai to return to their hometown in England in a bid to fill a gap in the tea market.

"Being health conscious but constantly travelling and busy led me to look for healthy, convenient options." ​James told NutraIngredients.

"We saw the rise in popularity of vitamin enriched waters, functional probiotic yoghurts and vitamin and mineral enriched foods. As big tea fans, we knew how popular herbal and green teas were. However, despite the popularity, they could make no health claims on botanicals alone.

"That’s why we came up with the idea to marry the science backed world of vitamins with the familiar and convenient world of tea, to give EFSA approved functional teas. And so TEA+ was born!" 

The brand was launched in 2016, delivering vitamins and minerals like B6, B12, folic acid, selenium, biotin and vitamins C and D as well as botanicals including Echinacea, milk thistle, yerba mate and lemongrass.

With the aim to quench the thirst of the health-conscious masses, the four-strong range offers fusions with four specific health benefits: Vitamin D, Cleanse, Energy and Defence.

Sales began to boil over at the beginning of 2018 after the duo won investment on the TV show Dragon’s Den​, and Tea+ was relaunched with a new look. This has also led them to their partnership with Vitabiotics, the UK’s #1 vitamin manufacturer, which was revealed just a few months ago.

"This investment has been a huge opportunity for the company to leverage the expertise and trusted brand name of Vitabiotics," ​adds James.

The future of vitamin fusions

Tea+ sales are percolating nicely in over 1500 retailers in the UK, as well as selling in Central America, mainland Europe and the Middle East.

James says they want to see exports spilling further across the globe by the end of this year. 

"We are looking to increase our export activity this year and will be doing that in partnership with our partners, Vitabiotics who have links into over 100 countries worldwide where they sell their supplements. We are launching throughout Ireland right now into over 300 stores and we will be launching into the UAE, Australia and Canada later this year." 

TV success story

James recently appeared on a special ‘Pitches to Riches’ episode of Dragons' Den​ which revisited memorable businesses from the last 16 series of Dragons’ Den.

The show showed James' successful business meeting with his dragon investor Tej Lalvani and British retailer Boots.
“It was great to feature in a follow up to the original Dragons Den showing with Tej Lalvani,"​ James adds. "Our business has accelerated significantly since Dragons’ Den and was great for the BBC to be able to capture this with the revealing of our nationwide launch into Boots stores in January.”

Ingredients in-depth

The Vitamin D infusion includes green tea, lemongrass, apple pieces, natural flavouring and offers 100% RDA of vitamin D. 

An Energy infusion includes green tea, yerba mate, natural flavouring, Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, hibiscus, ginseng and cardomom and provides 100% RDA of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Biotin, Folic Acid and B12.

Cleanse is made with green tea, natural flavouring, apple pieces, vitamin C, milk thistle, ginger root, selenium, vitamin B complex, mannitol and dandelion root. It provides 50% RDA Selenium, 25% vitamin B complex and 25% RDA vitamin C per teabag. 

Finally, the Defence bags blend includes green tea, natural flavouring, Vitamin C, Orange Peel, Ginseng, Cardamom, Spearmint, and 100% RDA of vitamin C and Echinacea.

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