West Coast, Women-Run Tea Business Changes The Way We Enjoy Loose Leaf Tea.
I connected with Vancouver based tea business, iLOLA, who has developed a new way of enjoying loose leaf tea, through the development of the world’s first Tea Disc. “This has been years in the making, but I’m so excited to see the project finally off the ground.” says Su-Mari Hill, the Co-Founder and driving force of this women-run/family owned business. Su-Mari is also the inventor of the recently patented Tea Disc and she took me through this latest innovation.
“There was no eureka moment. It was just a case of staying with the problem longer.” Years of planning, development and trial and error resulted in the first innovation in tea since the tea bag in the early 1900’s.
The tea bag was invented and patented by two women when they filed for the tea bag or “tea leaf holder”. This was registered by Roberta C. Lawson and Mary Molaren of Milwaukee and resembles what we use today. Their patent described “by this means, only so much of tea-leaves is used as is required for the single cup of tea,” making less waste. The final design implemented stitched mesh fabric to house the tea.
The recent trend of reverting back to loose leaf tea is being embraced across North America. Tea aficionado’s are swearing by the health benefits, better taste and better quality of loose leaf tea vs tea bags or instant tea. The common view has been that the majority of tea bag tea purchased in grocery stores contains what is commonly known, and graded, as ‘tea dust’ or ‘tea fanning’. While it is certainly more convenient to travel with and easier to use (until now), it is struggling to compete on flavour, aroma and taste.
“I’ve always loved loose leaf tea and the quality that it brings, but it’s a nightmare to travel with and honestly, the messaging on how much to use is cloudy at best.” Su-Mari walked me through the love of this innovative Tea Disc. “We had a small tea store where I would hand blend tea’s for our community, mainly health and functional focused teas. Time and time again, I would be asked how much tea do I use and honestly, the message changes every time, depending on the tea in question. It was a confusing message for the customer so I decided to fix it.”
Developing the Tea Disc blended the quality and benefits of loose leaf with the convenience of the tea bag. iLOLA’s Tea Disc has also been fortified with probiotics aimed to help us grow stronger and be able to concentrate on enjoying tea and whatever moment you’ve escaped to.
Over the last century we have seen innovation mainly in tea bags, with the first paper tea bag invented in Germany. PG tips the invention of tea bag pyramids while instant tea was said to be invented in 1885 in the UK. Now, we are seeing the next wave of innovation in loose leaf tea and another woman in tea patenting for convenience and reduction of waste.
Su-Mari talked glowingly about the innovation currently moving around tea. “I think it’s great to be part of this new wave of innovation in tea. We’re doing it slightly different, as we wanted to keep to our passion of loose leaf tea with all it’s benefits; just make it more convenient to use.” While it was 2 women that started a revolution of bringing convenience and reducing waste to the tea industry, 100 years later we are now seeing the next wave of women bringing convenience to the tea industry and reducing environmental waste. I was surprised by just how good iLOLA Tea Discs tasted and how simple they were to use. My moment of luxury escape has certainly reached another level and I can’t wait to see what these Tea Discs do to shake up the industry. iLOLA’s Tea Disc Humidor has just launched in 2021 and is now shaping not only tea in it’s use, but now how we store tea moving forward.
It’s been 100 years in the making, but once again, a revolution in tea has taken place by another women and I find myself repopulating my tea cupboard.