Getting to Know Libertine Blends

Tara and Nic are the faces behind Libertine Blends, the local organic tea company that we elect to serve at Vic Books. Over the next two weeks, we'll be hosting free tastings of our deliciously refreshing Iced Tea (*chef's kiss*) and so we chatted to Libertines Tara and Nic over a cup of Kapow to get to know the brand better.

Find out from our tea aficionados what makes the perfect ingredients for a cuppa - we're talking the perfect tea cup, the ideal size novel and just the right amount of rain pouring on the windows. And don't forget the choccie biscuits!

What is your day job?

We do all of the day to day running of an organic tea business (split according to our strengths), as well as the usual planning for the future and trouble shooting that you get while running a business. Tara also looks after the social media and admin roles of two other family businesses, so it can be quite a busy working week for us!


What is your connection to Vic Books?

Vic Books serve our tea at both their Pipitea and Kelburn cafes.


How did the Libertine business start? Who’s involved?

Libertine Blends was started by Jacqui Wales in 2014, when coffee was king and before tea really became cool.  Jacqui was well ahead of the game in bringing Libertine Blends to life.  She created an amazing organic, non-caffeinated herbal tea range where taste was paramount, and the ingredients were good for you.  Jacqui moved to London and was running Libertine Blends remotely for a few years before handing the reigns over to us. Tara and I are a really good team with complimentary skills, and we love working together; a family business was always the dream!


What does it mean to be a ‘libertine’ – what influenced the decision to use that name for the brand?

A Libertine is someone who loves life.  It’s about being in the moment and celebrating the little pleasures on a regular basis. In this age of constant communication, striving for perfectionism and always being on-the-go, Libertine Blends’ ethos has remained focused around the importance of making time to come back to yourself. Whether it’s positive affirmations, or sipping a cup of tea, these small things are important to make your mind and body feel good. To be a libertine is to remember to see the joy in the little things in life and relish in them.


What are you working on at the moment?

Currently staying on top of sourcing our organic ingredients!  Covid has impacted the availability and supply chain for organic herbs worldwide so it’s all a bit of a juggle at the moment.  We’ve both also begun thinking about something new and excting in the pipeline - hopefully a new blend! That, along with our recent branding refresh is keeping us rather busy at the moment, but we’re loving it.

Libertine's new packaging for two blends - Runaway Rose and Kapow

You’ve just redesigned your packaging, which looks beautiful by the way, what were the drivers for change?

Thank you! We’ve had such positive feedback. There were numerous drivers and the key was getting the packaging to look the way we felt when we were drinking our tea.  It was a real team effort and we’re so grateful to have each other to bounce ideas and feedback off. As well as aligning more with our premium tea range, we wanted to also align better with our eco-conscious values by moving into eco-friendly packaging (the cardboard box is recyclable and the inner bag is home compostable). We also wanted to elevate the look of the packets on shelves, and felt the bright and bold boxes looked great, and were designed with the same fun, recognisable colours.


It seems to us that every tea brand has to offer a breakfast tea and earl grey – what are the distinctive ingredients of both and why are they so popular? 

For Kiwis, a cup of tea has traditionally meant black tea – either English Breakfast or Earl Grey, so both are very familiar to us.  Roxy Black is our Assam breakfast blend. The tea comes from the Assam region in India (one of the two premier tea growing areas in the country). It’s a bold and full-bodied blend that’s best enjoyed with milk the way Kiwis are used to drinking their tea. Luxe Grey is our Earl Grey blend with tea from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) which is blended with bergamot oil, a citrus fruit from Italy.  Tea from Ceylon is naturally full of citrus notes, so it fits beautifully with the bergamot and gives a smooth, silky cup of tea that feels luxurious.


What are the three most important factors for the perfect brew?

Quality ingredients are absolutely number one. Mass-produced black teas are made from lower quality leaves and include twigs and dust, while mass-produced herbal teas include sweeteners and flavourings. All of our ingredients are premium quality and organic with absolutely no added surprises. Quality, organic ingredients truly make a massive difference in making the perfect cup of tea.

Nicola: My second most important factor is a good cup! I’m a cup fanatic. I’ve brought cups back from overseas in my hand luggage on more than one occasion. My favourites are either 1960s-70s retro or locally handmade.

Tara: Agree with Mum, the cup definitely plays a part in a satisfying cup of tea! My third important factor would probably have to be either a wee treat to be enjoyed with the perfect cup of tea, or a cosy setting. I’m a sucker for a cup of tea on a rainy day, especially if this also includes a chocolatey treat or two...


Some quick-fire book recommendations please!

Our book tastes overlap so here’s a list compiled by both of us!

The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Room by Emma Donohue

The Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Sussan (written in 1966 but still good!)

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.


What are you reading at the moment? What do you like about it?

Nicola: The Wisdom of Tea by Noriko Morishita – it’s a Japanese bestseller and translated into English by a Kiwi lady. It explains the Japanese Tea Ceremony through the learnings of the author, it’s so readable and explains the subtleties and intricacies of traditional Japanese culture. Makes me want to go to Japan!

Tara: I’ve just finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It was bought for me by a friend and recommended by a few others, and I’m so glad to have read it. A beautifully sad story with a murder mystery woven in, I liked it because it wasn’t like anything I’ve read before.


Hardback or paperback?

Nicola: Paperback all the way!  And in the smaller size format.

Tara: I have to go with paperback as well, I prefer how they look on shelves and also, I often read lying in bed and if I can’t fold the book in half I can’t get into a comfy enough zone!


Favourite tea blend?

Nicola: That’s such a mean question!  How can I choose?!  It totally depends on the time of day and mood I’m in and also whether I’m drinking hot tea or iced tea.

Tara: I’ve literally gone through phases of all of them but right now my current fave (which will probably change again in a few weeks) is Exhale Detox. Perfect for all occassions right now. 


Vic Books is holding tastings of Libertine Runaway Rose Iced Tea at midday on 23 March at Kelburn and 30 March at Pipitea.