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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

HumaniTea: climate-conscious, oat milk-based vegan tea lattes

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Megan Robinson, brand and marketing specialist of HumaniTea, describes the origins and goals of the vegan tea brand.

There are so many varieties of coffee lattes out there, and a lot are now suitable for vegans. Coffee lovers can choose from iced, chilled, dairy-free, and flavoured products. But what about those who enjoy tea?

There are limited options for tea lovers, especially vegan tea lovers. So, HumaniTea founder Tina Chen wanted to invent something delicious and healthy for them. Inspired by her native country Taiwan and its creation of bubble tea, Tina created the UK’s first ready-to-drink vegan chilled tea lattes. 

This means that vegans, those who are lactose intolerant, health-conscious people, and those who have chosen to go dairy-free, can all enjoy something on the go.

After a short career in IT, Tina decided to move from Los Angeles to London and do a masters degree at Imperial College London. She decided to stay in the UK after and started her business venture in 2018, completely by herself. The main goal for HumaniTea is to be the most delicious plant-based drink that is good for humanity.

humanitea tina chen
HumaniTea founder Tina Chen.

HumaniTea prides itself on being a London-based social enterprise, as we donate 5% or more of post-tax profit to wellbeing and sustainability initiatives in our areas of operation. The Cambridge Social Ventures Programme was able to support us, as they help companies flourish into social enterprises.

We also have a strong environmental focus as we use preservative-free, ethically sourced ingredients and utilise eco-friendly packaging through recyclable cans. Oat milk is used in our lattes as it is one of the most sustainable in terms of both emissions and water usage, and it perfectly compliments our Earl Grey and Matcha flavours.

Read our ultimate showdown of the best oat milk brands in the UK.

There is such a wide market for plant-based products as more and more people are trying vegan alternatives. People are becoming more conscious of what they purchase, so we want to make sure our lattes are 100% plant-based and fairtrade.

Once Tina had created her social enterprise, she started selling them at her former university and outdoor markets in London in early 2019. This proved quite popular, but once the UK was put under lockdown restrictions a year later, HumaniTea had to adapt.

In April 2020, HumaniTea set up a Crowdfunder in order to partner with a manufacturer and produce 10,000 units. Luckily, we managed to raise £13,000, surpassing our goal of £10,000, and we got the units produced in October 2020.

humanitea drinksWe then donated 5% of the money to support those affected by coronavirus. After successfully crowdfunding, Tina set up her online store in November 2020 and that was when HumaniTea started to really take off.

Customers can purchase our two flavours — the Earl Grey Classic Tea Latte and Matcha Green Tea Latte — on our website, as well as at a variety of restaurants, supermarkets, online retailers, farm shops, and local stores.

We are very grateful that the pandemic did not hinder any of our progress. In fact, setting up our online store in the midst of all the chaos was beneficial, as more people were buying things online and looking for new products.

In March 2021, HumaniTea hired its first employee — me! This was through the UK government’s kickstart scheme, which supports unemployed 18- to 24-year-olds, and gets them into work with local businesses. This has been not only beneficial to me as I managed to get a job through the pandemic, but the employer too, as more can be done for the business to help it flourish.

vegan tea latte
Megan Robinson.

Since I started working with Tina, we have set up a blog and created a TikTok account. I regularly make vegan recipes such as fruit tea smoothies, tea-based cocktails, and vegan tea-flavoured cupcakes.

In August, we will have another production with our UK manufacturer, but this time, we will be producing around 24,000 units, which is more than double what we produced last time.

We hope that in the near future, we can partner with larger supermarkets and online retailers, which would make more people around the UK aware of our beverages. In addition to that, it would be even better to have our products noticed around the world. Hopefully, we get to see HumaniTea in countries such as Canada, the US, as well as other European and Asian countries in the next few years.