A new lady on the block

A new lady on the block

Sultan Bin Khaled and Francis Oyewole launched the UK’s first ever sparkling tea brand whilst studying at the University of Essex back in 2013. Three years on, they now supply 100 leading hotels and restaurants and have ambitious plans for the future, as BQ found out...

Green Lady Tea was created by Francis Oyewole (24) in 2013, a final year LLB law student at the University of Essex, who came up with the idea during his third year.

He co-founded the business alongside Sultan Bin Khaled (25), who was also attending the university studying accounting and finance.

Oyewole told BQ: “The story starts off on a university campus, with a soda stream machine; some Darjeeling Tea and an assortment of herbs and spices. We are now on a mission to restyle tea.  

“Everyone has tasted tea and most people have tasted iced tea, but not sparkling. Green Lady is the UK’s first ever sparkling tea.

“When it comes to soft drinks, there are not too many soft drinks that appeal to the adult sensibilities. We focus on floral and herbaceous taste profiles.

“The soft drinks currently on the market are too sweet, are fruit based and even the premium soft drink brands do not offer any real point of difference.

“Green Lady is a calming non-alcoholic beverage for adults. It’s made from Green Tea from the Himalayan Mountains of Darjeeling, gently sweetened with carob fruit (no added sugar) and then infused with nutmeg and rose oil.

“It’s floral, aromatic, with tinges of fruitiness refreshing. It even looks like prosecco when served in a champagne flute. The perfect soft drink for adults.”

After three years in business, Green Lady is now being served in over 100 top restaurants and hotels across the UK and the duo are eyeing further growth.

“We literally spend our days asking people if they have ever tasted sparkling tea,” added Francis. “Green Lady is now being sold in more than 100 venues around the UK.

“Our most prestigious customers include luxury hotels and restaurants in London and surrounding counties. We are also launching with a major online supermarket in July.”

Intrigued as to how they went from a university start-up to a national brand, with only a team of two, we had to ask how they made it happen.

Francis added: “There’s a celebrity chef, I won’t say his name, who was hosting an open day at one of his restaurants. I saw that, and thought, I’m going to give it a chance.

“I put on my suit, put some Green Lady’s in my bag, and I headed down to London. With a fearless attitude and a lot of charm, I made it through the door.

“Next, the chef’s PA comes along, and she looks like she’s the gatekeeper, she’s not letting anything past... We then get led into this office that’s like a library, it’s like walking into a villain’s lair!

“All of a sudden I explained how ‘I’ve done something really cheeky, I’ve got this product, and you have to taste it, it’s the UK’s first ever sparkling tea’... He [the celebrity chef] then tasted it and says ‘you know what, I can see this working in one of my champagne bars in London’.”

Asked what advice he would give to budding entrepreneurs looking to emulate their success, Francis told BQ: “I think that if you are going start your own business, you need to be audacious; you need to believe that you can do a better job the experienced, older companies out there on the market.”

With a growing online presence, and an ever increasing portfolio of stockists, the duo are now hoping the brand continues to grow from strength to strength.