Jamaicans share an extraordinary intimacy with tea. A cup of tea can be a warm, flavourful blend served with breakfast or comfort food throughout a gruelling 9 to 5, and we each have our versions of ‘sweet’. Though tea is pretty common worldwide, people with African lineage have long trusted in the medicinal benefits of tea and hold a rich tradition of brewing bushes to heal illnesses and maintain healthy lifestyles, something that the Caribbean diaspora has always embraced. Patrique Goodall, founder of Jamaican tea company Likkle Tea, seeks to carry on and build upon this love affair by “shaping and strengthening the tea industry in Jamaica, one cup at a time.” OAJ caught up with the standout entrepreneur to talk about this bold move.
OAJ: How did you get started in a business as rare as tea production in Jamaica? Tell us the story behind that. And, why the name ‘Likkle Tea’?
Likkle Tea was founded, in part, to provide a better tea experience in Jamaica, through premium, locally handcrafted, loose leaf teas. The name Likkle Tea pays homage to our local ritual of tea and what it represents. Tea for us is healing, it’s medicine and it transports us to a better state of being. The name is intent on being nostalgic for Jamaicans at any corner of the world. When you see or hear about the brand, there’s something that’s sparked inside of you.
OAJ: Walk us through the process of selection for the ingredients in your loose-leaf teas?
First, each base (Black, Green, White, Oolong, Rooibos, Pu-erh) is selected from Fair Trade Suppliers, for the most part organic. Then it’s selecting the flavour or mood I want to evoke with natural flavours and local herbs or spices, or what I like to call ‘Jamaican Niceness’. I started off working with blenders who would guide me in selecting varietal teas, which would blend best, which could be easily flavoured and what fruit or flavour would go well together, and then I learned to craft everything in Jamaica, from the flavouring and scenting to adding all the ingredients.
OAJ: Share with us your favourite ‘get up and go’ tea blend and what you usually have to eat with it.
My favourite get up and go tea blend is usually a Black Tea or Matcha, which I generally have as a latte, as I need a burst of energy in the mornings. I usually have this with a high protein breakfast – eggs and smoked salmon or turkey with toast, jam & butter.
OAJ: You have some interesting names for your tea blends. My favourite is ’17 Cherry Tree Lane’. How did you come up with the names? Does it have to do with the flavour, or smell?
The names are usually based on the inspiration while making or how the blends make me feel, and yes, the flavours as well. 17 Cherry Tree Lane was an ode to Mary Poppins. I was playing around with some rosehip & hibiscus one day & saw the preview of the remake of the Mary Poppins movie, and it brought me back to my childhood. I started humming a spoonful of sugar and decided I was going to name it for the Banks’ House.
Portland Bliss, because one sip of this blend takes me to my favourite place – San San Beach in Portland where I can relax and be at peace with a nice jelly coconut.
Miss Hazel, provided a feeling of comfort after taking a sip of the first blend. This blend was actually a suggestion by a friend and, at the time, I would call her and talk about business and life in general, and for me that represented one thing I miss about being home – a sense of community. Miss Hazel is that neighbour who looks after you when your parents are out, who bakes toto and slips you a piece during church, so that’s what the blend represents for me.
OAJ: Where is your favourite spot to chill and sip a ‘likkle tea’?
My mom’s house has a little sitting area that overlooks the ocean in Freeport. There’s something about hearing the waves crash against the wall, with a good book and a cup of tea; that just does it for me.
OAJ: What were you doing before you started Likkle Tea?
Before Likkle Tea I had the responsibility for marketing for a supermarket chain.
OAJ: How did it feel selling your first products? Is there a notable achievement or moment that you are most proud of?
My first products – OMG. I sold my first box dropping off a sample box for a friend. I will never forget. Walking back to my car that same afternoon, I saw five or so DMs on the Instagram page that I missed earlier, of people wanting to know how to purchase. That feeling for me was everything.
OAJ: How has this new venture changed and or affected you personally?
Likkle Tea has tested me on all fronts. I have been in business before but selling a service, never a product. I like to believe that everything I have ever done professionally has prepared me for Likkle Tea – from journalism, to PR, to advertising, to marketing, and food retail – and I have been armed with a lot that I have been able to put into the brand on my own. Likkle Tea started from a place of pain and with the help of my partner Lee, I have learned to trust in the process and trust myself, that I am doing something greater than I can see right now.
Doing business in Jamaica is harder than most countries especially in an industry where regulatory agencies you have to deal with, sometimes have little information about a product they’re assessing. Being a Black woman in business here, especially running a start-up has its own share of challenges, but that’s for another day, eh?! I truly love what I do, I love my country, and all the hurdles have, and are still, moulding me into a better businesswoman. I am truly passionate about shaping and strengthening the tea industry in Jamaica, one cup at a time.
OAJ: Describe your life as a tea blend? What’s your flavour?
Patrique is a bold Assam Black tea, scented with rich cacao nibs, with a smooth creamy vanilla flavour, definitely some tart orange peel, and some rose petals. Oh wow, I think I may have just come up with my new blend.