The People Behind The Brands: David & Shelley Evans, Oteas
We often say that Futureminded brands have one big thing in common: they re-engineer their categories for a better world. United by a purpose-driven common set of values and ethos ingrained in ‘doing good’, their DNA is deeply rooted in innovation and making sustainable positive impacts for their stakeholders, their communities and the planet as a whole.
One Futureminded brand that's rising to the challenge of providing a better deal for both the planet and the people who call it home is Oteas. Offering pyramid tea bags that are biodegradable and 100% plastic free - unusual in itself - they also come in packaging with the same credentials. What's more, they're a business member of the 1% for the Planet, whose members contribute one percent annual sales go towards non-profit groups and organizations working to better the planet.
We spoke to David Evans, CEO of Oteas, to discover how this range of traditional and functional teas came to be, and hear his thoughts on the future of the tea industry.
Tell us about Oteas, in a nutshell…
We created Oteas to provide the best quality teas & infusions in a truly sustainable format that can be enjoyed today without impacting tomorrow.
Where did your interest in tea come from? How did you come to have the idea for your product?
Having grown up in the UK then spending most of my adult life in Asia I got to experience the real tea experience, not the one that we are led to believe is the real experience from the multitude of companies that produce mass-processed fannings teas in and for the UK.
When Shelley & I got involved in Oteas it already had the fantastic whole leaf, herb, flower and spices that make it a true experience, and we wanted to build on that by making sure it was free of all plastics unlike many other teas available today. First we did this by introducing a biodegradable tea pyramid that is 100% plastic free. We then said we can do better than this and sourced a fully compostable bio-film to wrap and keep fresh our naked tea bags and then for our single serve envelopes.
What are the brand values and promises you stand behind?
We want to give the consumer the best tea experience possible at a price that is obtainable by the many, not just the few, whilst maintaining our commitment to the environment, zero waste and plastic free packaging.
Aside from being plastic free, Oteas also have some interesting functional ranges – tell us about a couple of these…
The functional benefits of teas and infusions have been known for centuries all across the world, so whilst we have many of the familiar tea blends such as Earl Grey, green tea and peppermint etc (although you haven't had the true experience of these blends until you taste ours), we also wanted to create a range of functional teas that combine those health benefits and create a fantastic addition to a healthy balanced diet.
Organic Immuni-tea - A special blend of herbs and spices to help your immune system stay strong and healthy. Organic Mate is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, that can boost energy and improve mental focus. May help protect against infections, assist with weight loss, boost your immune system, lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Beau-Tea - You can this blend of rooibos, green oats, peppermint and many other herbs and flowers anytime day or night. We combined these ingredients that are high in antioxidants to help improve skin appearance, reduce inflammation, assist with building strong bones, aid with digestion, cardiovascular health and circulation.
Organic Hey Dude - People have been drinking hemp infusions for thousands of years for the many health benefits this amazing plant has. Our blend has cocoa peel to naturally sweeten and remove the usual bitter taste of the hemp. The Yerba Mate gives it a caffeine kick and adds even more antioxidants to this already powerful blend.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Initially it was ensuring all our ingredients were the best we can source and achieving our goal of being 100% plastic free by 2019. Now it’s competing with the big multi-national companies that dominate the tea aisle. It is a real David and Goliath battle but we are up to the challenge and confident the consumer will choose whole leaf and environmentally responsible packaging over cheap fannings alternatives that in many cases still contain microplastics.
What’s next for Oteas?
Global domination of the tea aisle! Really though, we want to continue to grow and learn and be the best tea company we can possibly be.
How do you see the tea industry changing over the next five years or so?
I hope that all companies stop using plastic in their tea bags and make a move to sustainable packaging. If we can do it, the big guys can. There is no excuse; sure it costs a bit more but we have to all do our part to reduce waste whilst producing the very best product we can.
While the bigger companies are working this out hopefully consumers both small and large recognize the benefits of using a fantastic zero waste product in today’s circular economy and make the move to Oteas.
What’s your personal mantra?
One word: Development