Come chai with me: Melbourne couple leads new market niche

Written by Nina Tovey | 3 January, 2014

A determination to shake up the tea industry is reaping major rewards for naturopath and Endeavour College alumna Emma Watson through her booming organic tea business Love chai Love tea.

A determination to shake up the tea industry through the application of naturopathic principles is reaping major rewards for naturopath and Endeavour College alumna Emma Watson through her booming organic tea business Love chai Love tea.

Emma has spent the last seven years working with husband Damien Amos to build a range of 30 organic, fair-trade tea blends and secure more than 150 stockists across the country together with a thriving online business.

A focus on developing a unique herbal tea range with no preservatives, colours or sweeteners coupled with strong therapeutic benefits has seen Love chai Love Tea’s growth triple in the last twelve months alone.

“In essence we want to offer consumers interested in natural health an alternative by offering them access to therapeutic herbs to help alleviate their health conditions,” said Emma.

“For those times where it isn’t feasible to see your naturopath or invest in supplements, we want consumers to have access to herbal blends of the highest quality which can help them on their journey towards maximum health.”

The idea behind Love chai Love Tea began in Emma’s second year of naturopathy studies when she became consumed by the idea of making her own herbal teas.

“I became really interested in chai blends and noticed that most of the products on the market were heavy black teas with lots of sugar and weren’t organic, so I started making my own,” Emma said.

Emma shortly crossed paths with her future business partner in the form of her now husband Damien, who grew up on a biodynamic organic farm and had a strong interest in naturopathy himself.

“I remember enjoying a cup of Dandelion tea together and not being able to stop talking about my hopes to build a tea line based on the health principles I was learning about at Endeavour College,” Emma said.

This led Damien to join Emma by enrolling to study naturopathy before the couple went on to develop their first organic, fair trade chai blend and tried their hand at securing local stockists.

This involved holding taste testing after taste testing to ensure their recipe had the right blend of therapeutic benefits and taste appeal.

“When we had people tell us our Chai blend was the closest they had tasted to the Chai they had experienced in India we took comfort that we were on the right track.”

The couple has also invested in sustainable packaging which ensures all aspects of the product are biodegradable and can be thrown straight into the compost.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with a raft of cafes, restaurants, gift stores and retail outlets signing up, including Endeavour’s Bookstore in Melbourne and Brisbane.

The initial reception was so positive Emma and Damien quickly moved to develop two new chai blends. This was followed by a range of twelve different teas and the launch of their naturopathic range with blends to help with everything from pregnancy, detox, breast feeding, menopause, skin health and sleep. This resulted in some of their most popular blends to date, including their Sleep Tea (which the couple’s daughter Arrabella has declared her favourite).

The couple scored a major coup when grocery store giant IGA signed as a stockist followed by wholesaler OBorne Health Supplies, which sells Love chai Love tea to naturopaths and health professionals. Despite Love chai Love Tea’s continued growth, Emma still spends part of her week practising as a naturopath from Geelong’s thriving endota spa to remain connected to the natural health world.

“I’ve loved helping people since I was young and continue to get a lot of fulfillment from giving people the knowledge of how to improve their health, so my client work is really important to me. It helps me stay in touch with the industry and current research which flows on to our tea business.”

Love chai Love Tea is also committed to its philanthropic partnership with One Percent for the Planet, a charity which encourages business to donate at least 1% of their revenue to some 2000 environmental organisations worldwide.

“We are sourcing our products from tea plantations around the world, and it’s important for us to give back to those areas,” Emma said. When reflecting on their journey, Emma recalls challenging moments during the business’ infancy.

“Becoming certified as organic and fair trade was a mission in itself, and securing the funds to launch a really large range was very scary, although it was clearly something we needed to commit to in order to grow. It was a huge amount of work to source each individual ingredient – some of our blends have over 10 ingredients in each!” she said.

When it comes to the future of Love chai Love tea, Emma has bold plans.

“Besides making our tea accessible to more people by securing more stockists in Australia and across the world, we want to visit more tea plantations and uncover untouched herbs with great medicinal qualities we can use in new blends.”

“We want to provide the healthiest, tastiest, most sustainable and ethical tea blends available for our customers to share with the people they love.”

Love chai Love tea is stocked at Endeavour College of Natural Health bookstoresin Brisbane and Melbourne.

Chai is a spiced milk tea which derived from India and has become increasingly popular around the world. It is generally made up of tea, herbs and spices – most commonly cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper.

Chai tea is thought to help improve digestion, enhance the immune system, fight inflammation and has antioxidant properties.

Emma’s tips for brewing chai:

Nina Tovey

Nina Tovey is a public relations expert who has supported a wide range of clients throughout her career, including world leading brands, Government Departments and small-to-medium enterprises. Nina is the founder of public relations consultancy Yoke Communications.

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