SAINT JOHN – Tracy and Rory Bell have honed a successful pitch for Millennia Tea.
Pioneers of a flash-frozen tea line that best preserves its antioxidant qualities, the entrepreneurs from Saint John (via Dieppe) impressed renowned tea experts and writers from around the world at an international tea expo in Las Vegas in the spring.
“It was fascinating to go to the premiere convention in the world for high-end teas, and watch expert after expert after expert come by our booth and discover something new about tea,” Tracy told Huddle earlier this year.
Now they just have to win over the judges at Dragons’ Den.
The Bells taped an episode earlier this year. We’ll know the result when the show airs November 16 at 8 pm on CBC Television.
In the meantime, the Bells have been ramping up their business. What began as a global search for antioxidant teas in response to a cancer-scare in the family (which fortunately turned out to false) has turned into the Bells’ new business– a line of teas produced with an innovative flash-freezing method that preserves the freshness of freshly picked leaves.
They incorporated Millennia in the spring of 2016, sourced tea leaves in the U.S. near flash-freezing facilities and hired bioscientists to conduct lab tests to make sure their theory was credible, and “it was,” said Tracy in our earlier interview with Huddle.Their flash-freezing method, she said, produces tea with four times the level of EGCG antioxidants as you would find in a conventionally produced white tea.
They have since searched the globe, with the help of an international food broker, for the best source of tea leaves. They recently found the right partner in Boaz Katah, a tea grower who works with Tumoi Teas, a collective of farmers in Kenya that grow and hand-pick, pesticide-free tea leaves.
“He works with a coop of farmers who hand-pick the leaves in the gorgeous highlands that border Kenya’s famous Great Rift Valley,” said Tracy in a recent e-mail. “Boaz is excited to be part of our project because we’re processing tea in a way that’s radically different from what the rest of the industry is doing.”
Millennia will be releasing two new teas from the Kenyan growers this November – Fresh-leaf Kenya Green and Fresh-leaf Kenya Purple. Tracy said the leaves were hand-picked just last week.
The Bells long-term plan is to sell their teas through a network of North American retailers. They already sell their teas in Locavore Café in Saint John and have added Simply for Life locations as well.
Millennia will also do direct-to-consumer sales over the internet, a service they hope to have in place by December.