These Elegant Bottle of Tea are Your New Go-To
Written By: Aubrey Freitas
Photographed By: Joe Nardello
Expert: Nicole Dean
Credentials: Founder of Kollo Tea
Q: What inspired you to create Kollo Tea?
Nicole Dean: Moving from San Diego to Los Angeles. I became very inspired by the fashion, art, culture and diversity. It was a perfect place to launch a product like this. Angelenos care about their health and get the brand and get the look of the product.
Q: Are you working on new products or ideas for the future?
ND: I want to focus on the core three products I have now. It’s seductive to expand the brand, but I want to make sure I’m supporting the farms I’m getting the tea leaves from. We started a composting program to help make zero waste for our company. LA still serves as a large inspiration, and I try to bring those things into my brand. I want to keep everything high quality from all aspects of my product.
Q: What do you hope people gain from Kollo Tea?
ND: Thoughtfully restrained luxury tea is very indicative of what I have tried to create with the company. There’s beauty in simplicity, taking things away from a product can be just as good as adding things to a product. I encourage people to read labels and be more sensitive to what you are putting in your body, and help people move in the direction of transparency of what they are drinking. There are a lot of ways to brand a beverage, and people have preconceived notions of what a beverage should look like. I like to surprise people with the product.
Q: What’s one word of advice you would give people who were planning on following their dreams of starting a business?
ND: Research, research, research. Research the market extensively, make sure there is a market for your product. Be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. Keep a core group of people around you. Everybody has an opinion, and it’s easy to get off track. Those few close people check you and bring you back to your center. Keep your standards really, really high from the beginning.
Q: What do you think makes your product so unique?
ND: We took out any sugar, any preservatives and any added flavoring. We use whole-source, single-serve tea leaves—it’s very high-quality tea. We make it in very small batches each time to insure quality control, and I’m there every time a batch is brewed. Our branding, on its face, looks more like a lifestyle brand other than a beverage brand.
Q: What’s your favorite type of tea, and what do you think that says about you?
ND: I’ve become a bit of a tea snob. I drink my own teas every single morning. Cold oolong teas in the bottle with no sweeteners or preservatives. Nothing. I stopped using tea bags when I drink tea because the quality of them are not the best. I like to bring my own loose-leaf tea to hotels. I’m a creature of habit; I drink the same thing every morning and don’t have to think about it.
Q: How did your business begin?
ND: I went to graduate school and started to drink loose-leaf tea, and would heat it up to make it, then cool it down so I could take it with me on campus. I finished grad school and wanted to find tea that didn’t have anything else in it. I didn’t find what I was looking for and ended up flying to Japan to learn more about tea. I saw that there was an opportunity to make an unsweetened, no-added-flavoring tea and that I could be the one to do it. I did a year and a half of research and development and launched the brand a year ago.
Round of Ap-Paws: Nicole and her husband are proud parents to two terrier-chihuahua mixes that they adopted from a shelter, and they’re contemplating adopting a third.