Meet the Dragon’s Den backed vitamin tea brand from Harrogate brewing up success overseas

Jade and James Dawson, co-founders of TEA+
Jade and James Dawson, co-founders of TEA+
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A Harrogate manufacturer of vitamin-infused teas that made a successful appearance on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den is set to triple its revenue to £700,000 this year following expansion into new overseas markets.

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TEA+ is run by husband and wife team James and Jade Dawson. The couple appeared on BBC’s Dragon’s Den late last year, securing investment from Tej Lalvani, competition judge and chief executive of vitamin manufacturer Vitabiotics.

Despite only launching three years ago, TEA+ has already secured deals with major retailers in the US, Mexico, New Zealand and the UAE. It is also in discussions with buyers in Australia, Canada, Iceland and the Netherlands. In the UK, it is stocked by major UK retailers including Holland and Barrett, Boots and Superdrug.

TEA+ has been supported in its expansion into international markets by International Trade Advisers (ITAs) working as part of the Food is GREAT campaign.

Food is GREAT is the cross-departmental campaign between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) to support UK food and drink producers to export.

ITAs introduced TEA+ to buyers and trade authorities in Mexico, while helping the firm with credit checks on potential buyers to give the tea manufacturer security with its cashflow. Now, its products are sold in 200 pharmacies in Mexico, accounting for more than £50,000 worth of sales.

TEA+ founder, James Dawson, also attended a Northern Powerhouse trade mission organised by the Food is GREAT campaign to the International Food Exhibition in London this year. Here, James met buyers from Canada, Germany and the Netherlands as part of one-to-one meetings arranged by ITAs.

Mr Dawson said: “Our vitamin-infused teas are unique in the global marketplace, making us a hit with retailers and consumers. And with tea being the second most consumed drink in the world, the potential for us is enormous.

“Finding trusted overseas buyers, learning what we can and can’t put on our packaging in each market, and conducting credit checks on customers are just some of the hurdles we‘ve been able to overcome on our export journey with support from DIT. Our local ITAs at DIT have helped us in each of these areas, which has made the process of exporting much smoother and more straightforward.

“For any businesses new to exporting, getting yourself to trade shows is a great place to start. If we can make a success of exporting, so can you.”

Mark Robson, head of regions, Yorkshire & the Humber at DIT, said: “Perhaps best known for our love of tea, the UK is also renowned for the quality of our food and drink products. TEA+ has successfully capitalised on this with its unique, innovative teas – and by taking advantage of the support available from DIT to get firms exporting.

“Overseas sales of Yorkshire & the Humber food and drink totalled £1.2bn in the year up to March 2019, a 4% rise on the previous 12-month period. With exports rising, we’d encourage other Yorkshire businesses to get in touch and see how we can help with everything from attending your first trade show to securing your first international contract.”