While most teas can be cold brewed overnight (read our previous blogpost for the best way to cold brew teas), not all teas can be cold-brewed in a short period of time. Enter Sonnentor, an Austrian brand serving up delicious and ethical teas. We speak to Carla, who brought Sonnentor to Singapore, about ethical business and cold brew teas.
Can you tell us about Sonnentor?
Sonnentor means “sunshine” in German. It was founded about 30 years ago by Johannes Gutmann, who at that time was unemployed in a rural area of Austria. Back then, all the jobs were in the city, but Johannes didn’t want to live in the countryside that he loved. So he decided to start talking to the farmers, who were also having a hard time and suggested they start growing organic produce. This was in the 1980s and the idea of organic food wasn’t popular yet – in fact, it was considered a crazy idea. But Johannes didn’t give up; he spent his time packing everything by hand and went to farmer’s markets to sell. And because the teas he made were of good quality, the business began to grow.
The heart of Sonnentor is about the social concerns regarding the value chain in producing, well, anything.
How did you get involved in Sonnentor and what made you decide to bring them to Singapore?
I really respect how Sonnentor is proving we can have a conscious business; not just profits but looking at the total value created in society. At Sonnentor, we believe in creating a common good economy and were one of the first companies to join the Economy for the Common Good. As a member, we’re audited on areas like fair trade, organic, gender remuneration, how profit is distributed along the whole value chain, etc.
This made me realise that business can do good and not just have good results, which is why I decided to bring Sonnentor to Singapore. But I have realised that in Singapore, social consciousness is not quite there yet and it would be hard to just talk about the common good. But if you have something different, like our cold brew teas, it’s easier to talk to people and get them to list. So when someone buys something from Sonnentor, I make it a point to write them a note to let them know that they haven’t just bought a tea, they’ve made a choice that impacts the world.
What do you think of the tea scene in Singapore compared to that overseas?
I think Singapore is very well served with tea. It’s even more sophisticated than the overseas markets. Due to the huge influence of China where there’s a high level of sophistication in terms of the tea you get. If you just look at oolong and green tea, you can find all kinds of tea. The value also stretches quite a bit from very cheap and ubiquitous brands to niche players – like those in teapasar. For the niche tea brands, the distribution may not be as wide as you expect, but it’s exclusive and I think it creates value for the brand because Singaporeans seem to like exclusive stuff.
What is one thing most people don’t know about cold brewed teas?
I think most people don’t even know about cold brewed teas. A lot of people associate tea with hot water, so it comes as a surprise to them that you can brew teas quickly in cold water. And if you have fruit in your teas, using hot water to brew them can result in a cooked-fruit taste in the tea. Cold-brewing the tea helps you to avoid that problem and the feedback I get when I serve Sonnentor is very positive – at a school fair this past Christmas, I sold 150 cups of cold brew tea to the students in two hours! It shows that you can find healthy and delicious alternatives to sugary drinks.
What is your favourite way to cold brew tea?
My favourite way is the simplest way – just drop a teabag into a bottle and wait for ten minutes. It’s foolproof and anyone can do it. Plus, you don’t have to worry about burning yourself with hot water!
If you want to jazz things up, you can also try adding fruit into your cold brew tea. That’s a great party drink and it adds new flavours to the tea.
What is the one tea you’d recommend to people who are new to tea?
Definitely our chilled-jug strawberry ginger tea. It’s got a lovely pink colour and the taste of the strawberries is given a little oomph with the addition of ginger. It’s visually pleasing and it tastes good.
Chilled jug chocolate mint and lemon verbena – The mint combines with the lemon verbena to create a refreshing tisane, perfect for hot sunny days. For this week only, get all Sonnentor products at 25% off on teapasar.com. Shop now!
Sonnentor’s Chilled Jug series is also available at teapasar NomadX, Plaza Singapura.