Geordie by choice

Vincent Efferoth, co-founder of premium alcoholic tea brand NOVELTEA, is one half of the German duo with one of the most exciting new cultural innovations on the market. When he and his business partner Lukas Passia met by chance at a football game, the pair couldn’t have predicted the business success they’d be having just a year on. Now a proud ‘geordie by choice’, Vincent talks to Chloe Taylor about adopting North East culture, the importance of maintaining strong networks and why passion and belief in your business idea is colossal

Out of what seemed like an impulse act of desperation when mixers ran out one night, Lukas mixed Christmas tea with orange brandy forming a creation himself and his friends couldn’t seem to get enough of. Vincent, who was studying entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity met Lukas in Newcastle half a year later. With Lukas’ new tea-infused business idea and Vincent’s business acumen, the pair began an exciting business venture.

Adjusting to the culture of the North East, Vincent and Lukas learned of their passion for alcohol and obsession with craft gins, beers and alcohol themed festivals, but most surprising to the Germans was the obsession that Brits have with tea!

Everyone drinks tea for every occasion. We have been taught you drink it when you wake up, when you are worried, before you go to bed, or with afternoon tea!

Elaborating on the concept of afternoon tea, Vincent states that while this tradition is new to him, he has observed that the fancy sandwich and cake stands are usually accompanied by an alcoholic beverage. He continues with his fascination for the tea tradition voicing his genuine surprise that no previous drink has ever connected the UK’s two favourite refreshments, alcohol and tea – it seemed almost logic.

NOVELTEA is unique as it focuses on the tea flavour, complimented by the spirit. The 11% fusion comes in two flavours, ‘The Tale of Tangier’ – an infusion of Moroccan green mint tea with Caribbean rum, and ‘The Tale of Earl Grey’ – an infusion of Earl Grey tea with gin and botanicals. Vincent and Lukas aim to embody the authentic tea tradition in each flavour they create.

“We believe people are so intrigued by the product because it’s not a new spirit or craft beer, despite these currently trending, they have been there before and are not a new innovation. We’ve really aimed to create a new product category: alcoholic tea blends – (hence) NOVELTEA. Our tea is for everyone that appreciates something new and exceptional in flavour.”

Capturing the essence of a premium product that embodies the heritage of tea with a brand-new spin on it, ‘NOVELTEA’ is the perfect brand. When asked about the generation of the name, Vincent stresses that it is not only important to find the right name but considering a name domain and researching whether it’s already been trademarked can be a timely and exhausting procedure.

Vincent discusses validating your ideas as quickly and cost-effectively as possible and so when starting out, the team conducted a lot of market research, created a lot of flavours and organised focus groups to ensure their idea was viable – to which the response was extremely positive.

Vincent states that a great misconception is that there’s limited resources out there to help young people in business. “I think that if you’re actively looking and asking for it, you will find people that are more than willing to support and actually help you.”

Vincent laughed as he told me one of the first Geordie sayings he learned in his studies from a mentor was that ‘shy bairns get nowt’, and after a bamboozled response and a request to write this down, upon understanding, he couldn’t agree more. “If you’re serious, confident and you work in a professional way there are many people and organisations in the North East, and indeed everywhere that are willing to help you,” Vincent adds.

When creating NOVELTEA, Vincent and Lukas secured a place on the ‘Rise Up Founderships’ programme, a business start-up package for graduates with business ideas ran by Newcastle University. Vincent tells me that without Newcastle University, the duo most likely wouldn’t have actually perused the idea and highly recommends their programmes for local aspiring entrepreneurs.

Vincent proudly states that Newcastle is a uni-city that has everything, and while their choices to study at Newcastle University brought both Vincent and Lukas here, it’s not just alcohol and tea that keeps them in the North East. Although experiencing a lot of exciting ventures down South, Vincent does not see any reason to relocate the business, stating that they are ‘Geordie’s by choice’ and have a fantastic network here.

Although faced with hurdles and challenges, Vincent is convinced that with their passion and belief for their product, overcoming them is always possible.

“For us, there hasn’t been any sacrifice as we are both very into the whole business and we are very passionate about it. We find it fun and a joy to work with our passion.”

With no prior experience in the alcoholic beverage industry, sourcing materials and putting the supply chain in place was challenging. Although their degrees supported their business decisions, Vincent explains that most of their knowledge came from their work experience, both having 4 years understanding of different industries and departments.

My advice for those with no experience looking to go into business would be to talk to everyone that you can talk to – we still do that a lot. The most important thing is learning how to build and maintain a network.

Vincent clarifies that it’s not just having contacts but taking care of them, to maintain the relationship. Attending every event you can is helpful as with different people come different experiences that extend your horizons on different aspects in business.

“The key to ‘word of mouth’ in business is quality,” Vincent adds, discussing that growth through networking and advertising will only take you as far as the strength of the product.

Their NOVELTEA innovation is relevant, distinguished and not to mention tremendously tasty – initiating a successful foundation to their early business venture. We wish them every success with the future of NOVELTEA!


Words: Chloe Taylor