Between 2020 and 2021, the London Business Hub administered ERDF grants of up to £5,000 to businesses to support them through the pandemic. The funding could be spent on consultancy support or equipment. Find out how our grants helped HumaniTea.

Tell us about your business?

As a Taiwanese-American living in London, Tina was inspired by bubble tea concept and British tea drinking culture to develop a healthy, well-balanced tea latte beverage. With her love for a quality cuppa and her desire to make a positive impact on society, Tina made a career switch from IT to just tea, and HumaniTea, a proud social enterprise, was born! Tackling the problem of obesity-causing sugary soft drinks, HumaniTea crafts the UK’s first ready-to-drink Plant-based Tea Lattes available in Matcha Green Tea and Classic Earl Grey flavours. Brewed with actual tea leaves, creamy oat milk, and ethically-sourced, quality ingredients, our deliciously smooth Vegan Tea Lattes exclude artificial flavours and emulsifiers, contain low sugar and low calories, and provide boost of antioxidants and natural energy without the coffee caffeine crash. Spreading Me Time, Tea Time, Any Time, HumaniTea encourages people to take tea breaks throughout the day and night to find mindfulness.

How did the pandemic effect your business?

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, our yummy tea lattes were available at farmers’ markets, like Borough Market and Partridges Chelsea Market, and Imperial College London canteens. As we possessed an offline presence, new social distancing rules meant that we could no longer trade at our main points of sale. And I couldn’t travel to the shared commercial kitchen that I was renting as well. I lost 100% of my sales as our retail points had to close during the lockdown period. We had no online presence at all back then, so I ended up building our e-commerce site ( by myself and spent some time learning about paid social in order to increase our online sales, which became our new revenue stream.

For e-commerce, the ability to reach potential customers through ads on Facebook and Instagram is very important. By reaching these potential customers with engaging ads, we would be able to increase traffic to our website and generate sales. At farmers’ markets, I can say hello to people as they pass by and offer samples to try, which then leads to sales. With online channels, I am unable to bring that in-person warm welcome and opportunity to try before buying to customers. Therefore, strong brand reputation and accessibility to reaching customers via social media platforms are key for our social enterprise to sustain itself and continue to grow.

					Tina from HumaniTea showcasing a ready-to-drink plant-based tea latte.

What support did you receive?

I launched our online shop on 2 November but struggled with driving more potential customers to our site. I posted our launch via social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack) and reached out to friends and acquaintances directly via text message and WhatsApp Groups. I also sent out newsletters to our then 200+ subscribers. However, our current customer base needed to grow in order for our business to be sustainable. We needed to put our products in front of the eyes of more potential customers. That is why paid social was the support we needed for our business to thrive.

Since our target market are active users of Facebook and Instagram, we were able to grow our social impact by reaching more customers, increasing our brand awareness, and maximising sales through eye-catching Facebook and Instagram marketing campaigns.

What would have happened if support was not available?

The grant allowed me to grow our e-commerce presence and establish a strong brand reputation to gain trust of consumers online in order to increase sales and sustain our social enterprise. Our business has only continued to grow and blossom since receiving the grant. We now possess loyal online customers who regularly purchase through our own web shop and have acquired significantly more newsletter subscribers. Awareness and recognition of our brand has also increased. We have even gained the attention of numerous online and brick and mortar retailers as well as wholesalers and distributors. Since January 2021, our HumaniTea Oat Milk Tea Lattes are now available in 40+ stockists, including farm shops, restaurants, and supermarkets, in London and the rest of UK. And most recently, we have hired a Brand & Marketing Specialist to join our HumaniTeam!

The grant funding for paid social was a game-changer for us! We gained so many new customers and increased our brand recognition due to the Facebook and Instagram ads that we ran, which allowed us to continue to operate our business despite our original retail points being shut due to lockdown.

The ERDF support helped me to continue to run and grow my business during this difficult period. During lockdown, we lost 100% of our sales due to our retail locations being forced to shut. I was constantly reaching out to potential new retailers, but retailers told me that they were not looking to stock new innovative products at that time due to COVID-19. Instead, retailers were reducing inventory and focussing on staple food items.

Although I quickly set up an e-commerce site to continue running my social enterprise, we were receiving significantly less traffic compared to when we were trading at farmers’ markets and at Imperial College. If support wasn’t provided, we could have suffered a complete loss of sales through the entire lockdown period, which would drastically damage our business due to poor cash flow.

This London Business Hub project was supported by the Mayor of London and European Regional Development Fund.

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