IN JUST four years after Sophia Stone first came up with the idea of starting a natural herb tea company for the local market in Trinidad and Tobago, she has turned Caribbean Cure into an award-winning international business which now has its sights on the European market.
Caribbean Cure has already got its foot in the door through leveraging support provided by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and the European Union.
Through participating in Caribbean Export/EU funded programmes Caribbean Cure were able to attend SIAL, Paris where they were shortlisted for a Product Innovation Award in 2018.
They were back most recently in September of last year for Caribbean Exportâ€™s CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum and Authentic Caribbean Expo, in Frankfurt Germany where over 60 Caribbean companies showcased their products to the European audience.
This gave Caribbean Cure the opportunity to be featured in the UK Coffee Expo in November through connections which were forged in Frankfurt.
Commenting on the European push, Sophia said: â€œThis yearâ€™s work is centred on how we are going to launch in the European market. We have done all the hard work of sorting out the manufacturing and the supply chain to sell our tea formulation using organic ingredients which are really healthy and wonderful, so we are now looking for a partner who will be interested in distributing for us.â€
While Caribbean Cure was initially Sophiaâ€™s idea of using natureâ€™s herbs and bush teas to promote health and wellness, it wasnâ€™t until she partnered with a friend and confidant Stacy Seeterram, a tea enthusiast in her own right, who embraced the vision of making these healing remedies more efficacious, convenient and attractive to todayâ€™s consumer.
In a few short months Stone and Seeterram created five tea blends which were to gain Caribbean Cure official recognition as producers of world class teas. This was achieved by winning bronze medals at the internationally recognised Global Tea Championships, hosted by the World Tea Expo in Colorado, for their Tropical Relaxation blend in November 2017 and again for Island Breeze in January 2018.
Sophiaâ€™s passion for keeping Caribbean Cure teas unique and authentic lies in the processing of the product.
â€œI wanted to honour our long history in the Caribbean of using herbs and bush teas. The tea leaves are slow-dried to maximise nutrient content and each blend is also a delicate balance, formulated to create a memorable and unique experience in every cup,â€ she said.
There is also a little bit of history brewed in each cup of Caribbean Cure tea. Island Breeze, a delicate blend that includes cardamom pods and white tea, is a tribute to Sophiaâ€™s Afghan/Canadian heritage, and borrows from one of her family recipes; while Carnival Oasis with its inclusion of mauby bark, cinnamon and clove, transports Stacy â€“ a Trinidadian, with roots woven throughout the Caribbean â€“ back to her childhood as it conjures memories of her grandmotherâ€™s â€œmagicalâ€ blends.
Since August this year, Caribbean Cure was launched in Japan, making it the first tea company from Trinidad and Tobago to break into the Asian market. An obviously proud Sophia said: â€œThe reason they are interested in our products is because of the health and wellness aspect of it. We are unique in the blend of herbs and natural healing ingredients paired with aromatic flowers and spices in our teas.â€
This article was originally published on The Voice as part of a series featuring Caribbean entrepreneurs and businesses sponsored by the Caribbean Export Development Agency.