changing mindsets about ...
While making a cup of herbal tea on New Year’s Day 2018, Herbaceous Blends founder, Caroline, turned to her boyfriend at the time. “These tea brands use so much packaging for their products.” “Why don’t you do it better, then?”, came the reply. Feeling fresh, motivated and full of beans after seeing in 2018 camping in nature, our founder felt full of the vigour required to put a seed of an idea into soil and start nurturing it into what it is today.
Caroline has been drinking herbal tea for many, many years. Completely caffeine intolerant, it’s the only hot beverage she drinks. Yet, finding high quality, loose leaf and flavoursome herbal tea has been a challenge. Herbaceous Blends seeks to change this. A sustainable brand that makes incredible herbal tea, tackles the problem of over packaging and widespread caffeine addiction and encourages people to live and consume more mindfully. All the while raising the bar when it comes to naturally caffeine free herbal tea. There’s still so much growing to be done on this Herbaceous journey, but none of that can be done without starting somewhere and in your company.
sustainable brand vision
Tired of excessive packaging and boring herbal tea
Sustainable brand Herbaceous Blends was born of a desire to make herbal tea more sustainable and sexier. We were tired of the same humdrum range of herbal tea, packaged in an excess of paper and plastic.
What’s more, tea hasn’t innovated in hundreds of years since Lipton came up with the concept of mass blending to deliver consistent and affordable tea to the masses. We think it’s high time that tea catches up with the times and moves towards more sustainable practices, at every step of the value chain.
Why we exist
Our ‘why’ – the reason we exist – is to change consumerism for the better by being a sustainable brand. To create a business that spearheads the change towards conscious and sustainable business practices by example. We want people to enjoy more well being and live with more awareness by slowing down, consuming less caffeine and being mindful about how we behave as consumers. Our product might (and probably will!) undergo many changes over time, but our North star will stay the same. And, with a bit of luck, your help and lots of tenacity, we’ll eventually start reaping the fruits of the change we want to witness in the world of consumerism.
What we do towards sustainability
“Perfectly sustainable”. What does that mean? We think it means acting in a way that a) causes minimal harm to people and planet and b) can be carried out indefinitely. This is the ultimate goal, yet currently it is still difficult to tick all these boxes because technology, education and infrastructure are lagging behind. Until technology, infrastructure and education catch up we can only do our best and be as conscious as possible when operating as a sustainable brand and business. This means thinking carefully about every aspect of our value chain. This includes the social, economic and environmental effects it will cause until technology, infrastructure and education evolve to the point where we can move up the “sustainability ladder”.
Honesty is the best policy
As well as being the most sustainable brand we can be, we operate with a mindset of transparency, honesty and authenticity. We strive towards the most effective and least impactful way of getting quality and unique herbal caffeine free tea blends to you, the tea drinker. Know a way we can operate more sustainably and in better balance with the planet? We’d love to hear it. Send us an email or give us a call.
Our sustainable brand goals:
- Source as many of our herbs from the UK as possible
- Partner with farms that operate sustainably and ethically
- Minimise and reduce waste at every step of our value chain
- Use as many UK based, independent suppliers and other sustainable brands as possible
- Encourage the reuse and upcycling of our packaging
- We offer refill bags so that you don’t need to keep buying tins
- We want to offer tea collection points to reduce postage and packaging
- We’ll give you a free tin of tea for every six tins you return to us
- We’ll give you a discount on your tea order if you show us photographic evidence of reusing or upcycling our tea tins
We’ve thought long and searched very hard to find what we think is the most sustainable packaging solution for our little business. We originally wanted a compostable pouch. Then realised that unless all our customers had access to composting facilities, it would be about as effective as if we used non-recyclable packaging material. We wanted to avoid plastic, even though many types are recyclable. Not long before losing hope, the penny dropped: tin! Good old-fashioned tin: packaging material of choice for tea caddies for hundreds of years. Tin is the most recycled material in the UK, everyone knows it can be recycled and it’s such a sturdy material that the chances of it being reused, repurposed and upcycled is much higher than with other recyclable materials. Plus, it looks pretty and keeps the herbs safe from light and moisture.
Biodegradable tea bags are becoming just as common as the humble “paper” tea bag. (Although we now know that many of these apparently paper bags contain plastic). Our initial aim was to release our teas in these biodegradable corn starch bags. But because we wanted to create a product that used as little packaging as possible, we decided to stick with trusty loose-leaf tea, our beverage of choice. The superior drinking experience of loose-leaf more than makes up for the ever so slightly more effort you have to invest in a cup of tea compared to throwing a tea bag in a cup. We think it’s worth it. And if you’re as passionate about sustainability as we are, we think you’ll agree.
Another point of contention and confusion, how to label our tea tins. Most adhesive labels are not recyclable due to the glue that makes them sticky. And the biodegradable labels available left an unpleasant residue when removed. (An important factor to consider given that we want people to reuse the tins). Plus, if many people don’t have access to composting facilities, then the labels (if successfully removed) would end up in general waste anyway. For this reason, we’ve decided to compromise and go with a standard paper label that can easily be removed with no residue. Or left on the tin if it is thrown in the recycling bin. The label will then be burned off in the kiln that melts down tin destined for recycling. Once we reach critical mass, we’ll be able to look into ordering customised tins that don’t need any labels at all.
Paper invoice free
You know that piece of paper that arrives with your online shopping orders? Well, we’ve decided to do away with them and send you an electronic invoice after you’ve placed your order online. We will send it as a pdf so you can download it and print it off yourself if you absolutely have to.
We repurpose already-used cardboard packaging for shipping our orders to you, wherever possible. And if we’ve run out of those, we use Kite boxes and Eco Craft biodegradable tape. If you live in London, we offer free pick up at selected points or delivery in our area so you get to save money on P&P and help Royal Mail reduce their carbon footprint (every little helps, as they say). It’s also a great chance for us to meet our lovely customers face to face. You can also collect your tea from your nearest Herbaceous Blends stockist.
Exotic herb sourcing:
Our long term goal is to personally know each and every farmer than grows the herbs that go into our blends. This is to ensure that we are sourcing from farmers that farm in harmony with people and planet. Unfortunately, as a small business we cannot yet afford to travel the world in search of our exotic herbs and then ship them to the UK in the quantities required to make it economically viable, as much as we’d love to (while being mindful of our carbon footprint)!
Until we reach that point, we source our herbs through our tea supplier, the awesome Tea People, who source herbs from farmers that farm organically. The Tea People itself is a social enterprise that donates 50% of its profits to a social initiative that builds schools in India.
Who We Work With
Sustainability isn’t just about ensuring that your product is sustainable and minimises harm on the planet. It means ensuring that every business activity and process is carried out sustainably and with awareness. For this reason, choosing the right suppliers with whom to partner is an essential piece in the never-ending jigsaw puzzle that is a sustainable brand. We believe in being as open and transparent as possible as a brand. Giving you, the customer, the information you need to make the best choices.
Here are the businesses with which we currently partner to bring our tasty teas to you:
The Tea People:
Our tea supplier, the Tea People is a social enterprise that donates 50% of its annual profits to a social initiative that facilitates the building of schools in India. Until we are large enough as a business to source our herbs directly from the farmer, Tea People sources the herbs for us. It also blends them to our specifications and packages them into our gorgeous tins you see on this website. It partners with farms and other suppliers that meet its high standards for sustainability. “We make sure we choose our suppliers from among those that have a reputation for looking after their people well. Some of the farms are fairtrade, organically certified. Some may not be, but still follow the ideologies.”
Not only that, we love working with the Tea People. Another important ingredient in a sustainable business. Tea People also print our labels.
It took us a lot of time and research to decide on the type of packaging in which to house our herbal tea blends. We decided on tin for the reasons above and decided on Tinware Direct for their super-human efficiency, brilliant prices and all round lovely service. As a business they do loads towards social, economic and environmental sustainability. This includes working alongside One Tree Planted, phasing out single use plastic, only selling recyclable products and sourcing products ethically. They are a member of Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association that supports the sustainability of metal products.They’re also a member of Sedex, an organisation that supports ethical trading, ensuring labour rights, health safety standards and the protection of the environment.
Virgin Startup have been with us from very early on, since we began writing our business plan and thinking about the best way to secure the finance needed to bring our idea to life.
Anyone who has attempted writing a business plan will know the time, sweat and effort needed to get it into the shape needed to convince a third party that your idea is worth the money you’re asking for. Without Virgin Startup’s outstanding support, advice and encouragement, we would have taken a lot longer and sweated a lot more to get where we are now.