London: Chocolate-flavoured teas that are low on calories but high on treat-factor have won Newcastle-based twins Jodi and Stella Kean the backing of a Start-Up team. The 24-year-olds started their own novelty tea business after their plans to open a tea bar collapsed.

"When the lease on the shop fell through we came up with the idea for chocolates. I don't think people realize how many calories and how much sugar is in a cup of hot chocolate. We wanted to create something that felt like a treat but was healthy," media quoted Stella as saying.

The twins found a tea supplier and experimented with different flavours to create their tea which has fewer than 20 calories per cup. Last December they each received Start-Up Loans of 5,500 pounds. They were also given a mentor, Melissa Middleton who runs several different businesses in the Newcastle area and is a college lecturer.

"We struggled a bit at the start to get the contacts we needed to sell our teas. Melissa kept us on the right track and told us how to attract customers," Stella said. They spent about a year perfecting the flavours they wanted, as they had to find the right ratio of tea to chocolate through trial and error.

"The main taste you get is tea, followed by the undertone of the flavour, such as pure dark chocolate and cocoa powder in the traditional-style chocolate tea," she said. Other flavours in this range include chilli chocolate, peppermint chocolate, vanilla chocolate and wild berry chocolate.

They have used their loans to create their second range, sweeteas, based on traditional sweetshop favourites such as rhubarb and custard, mint humbugs, liquorice wheels and lemon sherbet. The twins have ideas for other tea ranges and are aiming for a 150,000 pounds turnover within five years.


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