How on earth can tea give us the buzz and satisfaction needed in the morning? One small family-owned business in the Fraser Valley is renowned in the world of caffeine, yet they have people trading in coffee beans for tea bags. After reading Nu-Tea’s inspiring story and learning of the many amazing benefits of tea, there is no doubt you’ll be taking a break from coffee too.
The story of Tega Tea is a love story. Picture the sprawling plains and limestone caves of South Africa, where a fossil site referred to as the “Cradle of Humankind” is said to contain the origin of humans. This story also begins there.
Owner of Nu-Tea Company, Liz Bandelin grew up in South Africa, and loved all the beauty it had to offer – the people, the nature, the sunsets and the diversity of plant and animal life.
It was there that Liz met the love of her life. Together, they started a new future in Europe and later, another new adventure in Canada in the 1990s.
She realized that she wanted to escape the corporate business world and follow her dream of starting her own business. When she researched the trends of the future, she fell in love with the idea of combining her love of tea, Africa and making a difference.
Liz was on a mission to create the most successful tea company in North America, one that would be unique, healthy, delicious and showcase the beauty of Africa. It became a family project, where everyone pitched in to create teas and packaging that reflect the ideals of the brand.
Fast forward a little over a decade and Nu-Tea Company is now a successful local B.C. family business in Mission. It was voted #1 for Canada’s Favourite Fairtrade product in both 2012 and 2014, and now has products in Save On Foods, Urban Fare, Whole Foods, SPUD and Nature’s Fare, just to name a few.
Image: Tega Tea
From South Africa to North America – wow! How did that happen?
That’s a long story! I arrived in South Africa as a baby with my family from Holland. After graduating from college, I met my future husband who was from Germany. After living in West-Berlin for 20 years, we decided to follow our dream to go to Canada. I wanted to pursue my dream to start my own business there.
What inspired you to start Nu-Tea Company?
After many years in the business analysis world, I longed for adventure, excitement and freedom. My dad was a real inspiration to me, as he started a very successful business in South Africa at the age of 64. While in Canada in the early ’90s, I created a list of 25 business ideas and studied Faith Popcorn’s Dictionary of the Future. Starting a tea business was one of my ideas.
I sat with the Dictionary of the Future and let it open up for me. It opened up on an “R” page and I was fascinated to read about “Rooibos Tea.” There was incredible research from many countries into the health promoting properties of this herbal tea from South Africa. I reminded myself that I did not enjoy drinking it growing up, and I was so intrigued by what I read about it that I decided to give it another try. I contacted a supplier in South Africa and requested samples.
Upon receiving the samples, I discovered that the export quality tea was much more pleasant than the tea I disliked growing up. After visiting tea farms in South Africa, I now know that there are many different qualities available on the market. The low grades include more sticks and the super superior export grades contain more leaves. The highest quality Rooibos tea is smooth and has no bitterness or aftertaste, even if steeped for a long time.
It’s incredible how that moment of opening up a book led you to recognize what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. But why tea, and not coffee?
There are countless reasons. Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world, has more health promoting properties than coffee, has more variety and diversity, and herbal teas like Tega Organic Rooibos teas are non-addictive and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
Talk to us about the benefits of the Roobois tea, and how coffee drinkers could better benefit from it and its ingredients.
All teas, whether green, white, oolong, black or herbal contain powerful antioxidants and health promoting properties. Tega Organic Rooibos teas are naturally caffeine free, calorie free and are smooth and delicious.
Unlike teas which get bitter when steeped too long, Tega Rooibos teas won’t get bitter. Not only does it maintain its smooth, rich flavor, but it is de-stressing.
It seems like you chose the right tea?
Yes, in South Africa, Roobois is actually used in alleviating allergies, asthma and skin problems. It’s the perfect substitute for coffee because it helps you sleep better, and you’ll feel more energized once you switch. Also, it’s Oprah’s favorite tea because it’s caffeine free!
Well, if it can give me more energy in the morning and if Oprah also drinks it, I’m in! So tell me about your Tega Teas. I know many people who are hooked on David’s Tea or Teavana. What makes your brand extraordinary?
Tega Teas are recognized by consumers for their distinctive packaging design, best taste, unique blends and high quality certified organic ingredients that are ethically sourced. They are blended and packaged in the lower mainland of B.C.
Also, our signature packaging design shows an African sunset, with a unique animal on each tea box. The artwork was created based on images we captured on one of our visits to Africa.
I really admire how you take the South African heritage so significantly. Do you believe that’s what makes your brand one-of-a-kind?
Absolutely. We will in fact, be launching an individually-wrapped line of fair trade certified teas for food service, grocery and export soon. We have added three new teas: Tega Signature Green Tea from the foothills of the Himalayas, the Breakfast Blend and the Citrus Chamomile – all which range in levels of caffeine.
Our goal really is to provide an exceptional experience, from the fun and imaginative tea package of a “TegaCreature,” to the delicious tea inside.
Wow, you’re obviously motivated with every fibre of your being to really turn this into the most successful tea company in all of North America. Where do you get that inspiration from?
I get to do what I love. I’m having fun, I’m on this adventure called “owning a business,” and I’m making a difference.
To be the most successful tea company in North America – what does “success” mean to you then?
It means that while customers LOVE our tea and recommend them to their friends, we’re still continually reinventing and going through evolution. Success to me means that lives are positively changed in the tea communities where our teas are sourced as fairtrade funding for education opportunities and a better quality of life for others.
This company will be most successful knowing that lives are positively improved by a natural local product that is a clear alternative to unhealthy and non-organic beverages.
Herbal tea image via Shutterstock
Who knew that this niche specialty tea company, a local business in the Fraser Valley, is taking the larger tea companies by storm? You can order their tea online, or find it at your local grocery store. Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a break from coffee and sipping a delicious cup of Tega tea with a heart full of gratitude knowing that somewhere, a better quality of life is being established.
Some of the health benefits of various teas
- Passionflower tea – anxiety, calms the mind
- Oolong tea – weight loss, boosts metabolism
- Black tea – fresh breath, prevents plaque build-up
- Ginger tea – headaches, anti-inflammatory
- Green tea – overall health, cancer fighter
- White tea – wrinkle preventative, strengthens collagen and elastin
There is nothing to lose by kicking the caffeine and drinking a good ol’ fashioned cup of tea. Brew your batch now and begin experiencing all the benefits of this healthy beverage.
Feature image: Cup of tea via Shutterstock
Written by Krystele Chavez. Connect with Krystele on Twitter at @krystelechavez.