Labels That Tell A Tale

Bonnie Howard January 14, 2019

It’s tea but not as we know it.  As drink producers large, small and craft, continue to push the boundaries with new flavours and eye-catching packaging, it’s not so easy to make an impression in the alcoholic beverage business these days.  But one new start up has managed to do just that, winning awards and securing export deals to China, Hong Kong and Germany.

In Spring 2017, new drinks brand NOVELTEA introduced the world’s first cold-brewed, spirit-infused tea, which can be served hot, cold or as a key cocktail ingredient.   Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, entrepreneurs Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia set out to popularize a new beverage category, that of the alcoholic tea.

NOVELTEA launched with two products – The Tale of Earl Grey, which combines classic Earl Grey tea with British gin and The Tale of Tangier that pairs Moroccan green mint tea with white Caribbean rum.  A third blend was introduced in September this year, The Tale of Oolong, a blend of Chinese Oolong tea with Scotch whisky.

To produce these unique flavours, the carefully chosen tealeaves are cold brewed for over 8 hours, then blended with the complimenting spirit.  The drinks are gluten-free and suitable for vegans.

Since its launch the team has successfully raised £500k through crowdfunding, and in just over 12 months, their revenue has grown by 320%.  NOVELTEA now exports overseas as well as being stocked in over 150 stores in the UK. The unique flavours and radical combinations have led to numerous award wins and, most recently, NOVELTEA was featured on the BBC television programme Dragons’ Den.

As with any successful brand, the packaging has an important role to play in attracting attention.  It needs to convey instantaneously what the product is about and encourage the consumer to look further.

With NOVELTEA, the labels are designed to tell the story of the tea’s origins in visual format on the front of the bottle, coupled with a brief description on the back. Each ‘Tale uses a different colour accent, which runs across all marketing materials, to help promote a strong identity and make it easier for customers to identify the different blends quickly and easily.

The team also chose to include hot-foil stamping on the labels to highlight key elements and to give a premium feel to the brand.  A careful balance was found to ensure that the illustration conveys the story adequately and in an appealing manner, whilst not detracting from the branding or the Tale name.

“We digitally printed the labels as the process offers greater flexibility and that way we are not tied into the long print runs of lithograph,” Efferoth explains.  “We can produce short, sharp runs as required. Printing digitally also means any revisions can be made relatively easily and without wasting thousands of older labels.“

“We chose UK-based to print the labels.  They offer a professional service and a selection of hot foil stamping options.  We used this tool to add a premium feel to the label,” continues Efferoth.

NOVELTEA is based and produced in the UK, and the team aims to ensure that every element of the ‘Tales’ is UK produced to help reduce their carbon footprint.  Digitally printing labels also helps reduce label wastage, in line with their environmental goals.

NOVELTEA was the Winner of Speciality Food Magazine’s ‘New Producer Award 2018’ for Crowdfunding and more recently a silver medal winner in the Spirits Business Award 2018.  The Tale of Tangier also won a 2018 Great Taste Award.