INFUSE Artisan Tea, Northern Ireland’s very first Tea Bar, not only celebrated its first birthday this month but has also been chosen from thousands of entries to feature as a Small Biz 100 by Small Business Saturday UK.
Now in its sixth year, Small Business Saturday is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign which aims to showcase and promote 100 small businesses in the run up to its annual event on Saturday, December 1.
Small Business Saturday is an initiative that launched with the aim of encouraging people to spend with small independent businesses in the local community. It is seen as a direct contrast to the likes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday where large profits are typically made by multinational firms.
Aine McGuckian, the co-owner of Infuse, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen from thousands of other worthy candidates as one of the Small Biz 100 and being able to make the announcement on the first birthday of the Tea Bar has meant a lot to us.
“Duncan and I are hugely passionate about the world of tea, we pride ourselves in sourcing high quality loose leaf teas and brewing the tea leaves with exacting standards, which means specific water temperatures and steep times.
“We go further than most as we heat all our water to order in cast iron tetsubin pots, this allows us to be exacting in the temperature of water that we pour on the tea leaves, we even pour the tea when it is ready to ensure the tea does not over brew. The difference these systems make to the taste of a cup of tea is amazing.
“We have over 40 teas available in-store, from our own range of Artisan Tea to other Northern Irish tea suppliers like Miss McKeown’s and Suki Tea.
“At Infuse we pride ourselves with being innovative within the industry, having created a range of Tea Mocktails and more recently tea infused sorbets. We even do tea infused hot chocolates, which might sound surprising, but they work really well.
“Being selected as by Small Business Saturday is a huge achievement for us, we have entered into an extremely niche market and have seen the business grow and flourish in the last year so being able to top off our first year of the Tea Bar with this achievement has been wonderful.
“Not only have we worked to develop our range of teas we have been proud to launch INFUSE Wellness above the Tea Bar also, where we offer a number of complementary therapies including Deep Tissue Massage and Herbal Medicine as this was a long-term goal.”
Aine and Duncan’s journey to launch the Tea Bar began in 2014 when they both took part in a nationwide competition called TestTown run by the Carnegie Trust UK.
They entered with Aine’s herbal practice The Little Herbalista, where people would have a chat about health and wellness over great tea and book in for a consultation if they felt it was right for them.
The pair won the local heat in Coleraine in June 2014 and went to Cambridge for the Grand Final the following October.
They decided to go big on the idea of a Tea Bar in Cambridge, where they put the emphasis on great tea and brewing standards with an underlying theme of health and wellness.
The response in Cambridge blew the pair away and cemented their plan to launch a Tea Bar with attached therapy rooms back in Coleraine and they have been working towards that goal ever since.
Aine said: “The journey of launching the Tea Bar has been long and arduous but I can honestly say that grit and determination have helped us stay true to our goal and I believe it has really paid off for us, so it is great to see this recognised by Small Business Saturday UK. I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.”
o Also listed among the 100 companies is Wardens of Newtownards.