Here at Garage we love local, so naturally we always try to use independent suppliers. Today we are speaking to owner and founder Louisa, from Debonair Tea. We have used Louisa's incredible tea blends since we opened our first shop in 2017. Our customers love it and so do we!
Hello Louisa! So pleased to have you chat with us today; you are Garage's longest standing supplier we we LOVE your amazing teas! Can you tell us a bit about you and Debonair Tea?
Hello, lovely to speak to you too! Ok, so I co-founded Debonair Tea with my husband back in 2014 but it’s basically just my baby now as we went on to have two real life babies pretty quickly after starting up. I’m a proper tea geek and an accredited tea sommelier and Debonair Tea is all about raising the standard of tea people enjoy in cafes and restaurants as well as in the home by making it more accessible.
Why did you decide to set up Debonair Tea?
We long believed it was possible to make high quality tea more accessible - at an honest price point. So in 2014, we set upon our mission to make exceptional tea a daily pleasure. Initially, our plan was to create a pop-up tea bar and personally serve our own teas and blends from our 1968 Bedford 'Debonair' CA van but having done some market research at farmer’s markets we were soon getting requests to retail our products online and supply other food businesses, requiring a prompt re-write of the business plan.
What is your personal tea of choice and why? And which is your best seller?
My go-to tea changes on a regular basis but if I was to have a black tea, it would probably be our Chinese Keemun, a green tea, our Jasmine Dragon Pearls or if I’m going caffeine-free I opt for our long needle Rooibos. Our best sellers are the old classics Builders’ Brew and English Breakfast Blend but our relaxing Dream On infusion has become a huge seller online since Covid lockdowns started for obvious reasons!
How have you managed to overcome the last 18 months? Have you had to adapt your business?
Ha! I’m not actually sure…the business has been on a real roller coaster in terms of different revenue streams performing differently depending on changes to rules and various issues with supply, not to mention childcare issues at home. I think we’ve had to be pretty resilient, we’ve held back from any major product development and have become much more Just In Time when it comes to production.
You work with lots of local businesses; what do you love about local?
Well it does help that as well as loving tea I am a massive foodie so honestly, it’s an honour to work with some of the amazing cafes and restaurants we supply. Running a small business is hard work so the passion of the people behind these small businesses, which bring personality to the local economy and community, is pretty infectious too.
With sustainability being such a huge issue, how have you managed to adapt aspects of your business to be more environmentally friendly and ethical?
If it isn’t recyclable, all of our packaging is now fully compostable within 3 months of use. We have also recently switched our teabag material (which has always been plastic-free) supplier to one from Europe rather than Japan to reduce their carbon footprint drastically.
Have you got anything exciting coming up in the future? What are you hoping to achieve in the next few years?
Subscription boxes have been on the to do list for a long time so we’re hoping to have these cracked by the end of the year. In the longer-term, a retail space of sorts is also in the
pipeline but we are a bit limited on what we can say about that for now.
You can follow Debonair on Instagram here and find their tea-haven website here!