Espresso Martinis and coffee liqueurs may be stalwarts of the bar scene, but two entrepreneurs are calling for a coffee break as they launch their spirit-infused tea brand Noveltea into the on-trade.
Noveltea was founded by German expats Lukas Passia and Vincent Efferoth after they moved to Newcastle and noticed Brits’ unbounding love of tea and gin, and decided to try combining the two for an ‘alcholic afternoon tea’.
‘There’s actually a history of the two being combined,’ Efferoth told Imbibe. ‘Back in the day, gin was so rough that the people used to mix it with tea and it was called Mother’s Tea Service, and the Chinese combine green tea and whisky.’
They’ve launched with two versions: The Tale of Earl Grey, an infusion of black tea with British gin and botanicals; and The Tale of Tangier, an infusion of Moroccan green mint tea with Caribbean white rum, herbs and spices. At 11% abv, it can be enjoyed neat – over ice or heated up – or strengthened with an additional shot of gin or rum and used in cocktails.
‘In Tangiers, they don’t drink alcohol, but they add lots of sugar to their mint teas to bring out the flavours, and that’s why it pairs well with the rum. It’s that same combination of mint and rum that you get in a Mojito – the flavours just really complement each other.’
The teas are cold-brewed, using real loose-leaf tea, for eight hours to optimise the health benefits and draw out the flavours. The process, Efferoth said, means you don’t get the oils settling on top or the bitter tannins developing, and you get a smoother overall profile.
The duo surpassed their crowdfunding target for Noveltea on Crowdcube within 26 hours, and received a stipend from Newscastle University to develop the drinks, as well as a heavyweight industry advisor in the form of Alan Rutherford, former whisky director for Diageo.
After almost a year in retail, they’re looking to move into the on-trade and will be stocked in Wynyard Hall in Newcastle, Montpellier Group venues in Edinburgh and Red Carnation hotels in London.
‘We’re currently far stronger in retail, but we’re expecting [Noveltea] to grow threefold this year and we’re in talks with many more on-trade stockists.’