My North East: NOVELTEA

May 1, 2018

Lukas Passia and Vincent Efferoth moved from Cologne, Germany, three years ago to study a Masters degree at Newcastle University. After graduating, they joined Start Up, a business accelerator at the university to research their alcoholic tea business. Lukas and Vincent launched NOVELTEA in April 2017, and now stocks Fenwick, John Lewis and Harrods. The pair began working with the Department for International Trade last summer and attended a trade mission to Shanghai. NOVELTEA despatched its first consignment to China in February

The best thing about living and working in the North East is how friendly and helpful everybody is. We started as foreign students and are now conducting our business from Newcastle because it already feels like home. Thanks to the Start Up mentors and local business contacts we achieved no small feat, a successful launch in Fenwick followed by a nationwide push through John Lewis. Business aside, from shops assistants to waiters and strangers you find yourself talking with, everybody makes you feel like you belong and like that encounter made their day [Vincent].

Newcastle is a bit like a Tardis – it’s bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. It’s a big but condensed city, everything is within walking distance. We feel like the city offers the best balance between work and social, vibrant when you want to enjoy yourself and quiet when you feel like relaxing. We also have a 9th floor flat right in the city centre, so waking up in the morning is a true delight as we can see Newcastle and Gateshead basking in the morning sun [Lukas].

I love to spend time in Newcastle’s Ouseburn area because of its picturesque scenery. There are lots of good pubs and restaurants and I personally love simply wandering around all of them, enjoying the spring warm air. I’m also attracted by the fact that this uncanny area is just a few minutes away from the city centre – a jewel hidden in plain sight [Vincent].

The Grotto, located on the coast of Marsden, South Shields is my favourite place to eat. The venue is one of the few cave restaurants in Europe and shows once again how creative and bold North East entrepreneurs are. Apart from the astonishing design, the staff are friendly, and the food is great. I usually go for a walk on the beach after eating [Lukas].

St James’ Park is the best venue in Newcastle because it’s where Vincent and I met for the first time. We both love football and St James’ Park has hosted some of the best football games we’ve been given the chance to see. Even if you’re not inside the stadium, its lights during game nights can be seen from as far away as Gateshead. [Lukas].

The best view is overlooking Newcastle’s Quayside in the summer from the Free Trade Inn beer garden, just when the sun is setting. The tangerine orange goes into a cherry red colour over the Tyne river, giving the water an astonishing vibe. In the distance, you can see the dark figures of the bridges and the castle rising over the river, as well as small shadowy figures roaming around the place [Vincent].

No one thing ‘makes’ the North East for me. The region gets everything right, and that’s why I love it. It’s a great place for business, just as good in terms of social life, with mostly everything at walking distance. When I need a change of pace I can go to the beach, which is half an hour away with the Metro. I sometimes go to one of the small villages close to Newcastle that are just a bus away, hit a pub and relax [Vincent].

If I could change or build anything in the North East, it would be an alcoholic tea house. Ok, this is more of a personal ambition, but Newcastle is a quirky place. It’s filled with craft beer pubs, cool gin bars, experiential dining venues and lots of afternoon tea places. A venue dedicated to combining the two things British people love the most, tea and alcohol, seems like a worthy addition. [Lukas]


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