HAVE YOU EVER FELT SO TIRED YOU WANTED TO PEEL YOUR SKIN OFF LIKE IT WAS SOME SORT OF INSECT EXOSKELETON, AS IF THAT WOULD STOP YOU FROM FEELING THIS EXHAUSTED? NO? JUST ME? I DO IT ALL THE TIME. I BOOK ABOUT SEVEN THINGS TOO MANY INTO A DAY, WEEK OR MONTH AND THEN PROCEED TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT TRANSPIRED BEFORE I LANDED AT AN EARLY 10AM AT THE NEWCASTLE MECCA OF COFFEE – THE LOCOMOTIVE – TO TALK, OF ALL THINGS, ABOUT TEA.
I feel like I need to paint a picture of the two people who walked up and sat down with me out the front of The Locomotive, but I’m not so good with words, so hopefully Ryan puts a picture in and you can see just how adorable Rose is, and how kind of rock’n’roll meets alternative verging on post-goth cool Logan is. But then when you read you’ll get a sense that Rose is potentially the more rock-alternative of the two with her potty mouth and passion for tea. You can tell pretty quickly these soft and gentle souls love what they’re doing. By the end of this chat I wanted to cuddle them. Put the kettle on and read all about Billy Goat Brew…
Rose, Logan, why tea?
Logan: Why not tea, right?
Rose: Well, I suppose it’s something I’ve had involvement and a passion with for going on six years.
L: A long time.
R: It kind of became this natural development within our relationship because it was like, we were looking for this thing, we wanted to do something together outside of just being a couple, having fun; we just wanted a business or a pursuit or something.
L: A big project.
R: We went through all these different ideas; at one stage we were going to have a weird barber shop, there was this one point where I had dislocated my fucking knee and was laid up in bed for thirteen weeks and had to leave one of my jobs that involved tea and I was fucking gutted, absolutely devastated. It just became this revelation one morning, like, ‘Why don’t we do this? Why do we need to leave behind this huge part of your life? We’re both clever, we both love tea. Let’s just do it!’ So we just lifted everything else up and decided, yep, this is going to be our jam now, and for almost two years slogged away at figuring out what we wanted it to be, how we wanted it to feel, how it was going to feel for us as well, and just started formulating this idea.
There’s obviously more to tea than meets the eye?
L: For us in starting it, like Rose said, we were looking for that one thing to do together. We met at an art show and just immediately started doing stuff together, and we wanted to have something as our life’s work; that ended up being tea. I’ve always enjoyed tea but then, with Rose, I came to appreciate it a lot more. We’re always drinking it. Always getting more of it. Can’t get enough of it.
R: Always off our tits on tea.
L: What we love about that as opposed to coffee is that we can drink it all fucking day and we’re fine. [laughs]
R: Without having a heart attack.
L: There is a lot more to it, but I don’t think that’s really been shown in a very long time. We wanted tea to be sexy again. We wanted people to feel about it the way we do.
R: Not be like Nana’s tea either. I think that was the thing. I think people think that tea is a soft option. We just wanted to show an alternative. Because I think there is still – this is in no way looking down or a sad alternative – but it still has a strong feminine feel, [which] I felt with a lot of the brands I was looking at. Then coming from, I guess, a bit of a B-grade punk kind of look at tea, we didn’t see anyone else doing that. Definitely some sleek sexy stuff there.
Is that what the Billy Goat Brew approach is?
L: Definitely a big part, yeah. I don’t think we set out to achieve anything that was particularly masculine, tea for ‘da bois’, but there was nothing out there as accessible to men. There are definitely men who drink tea, serve tea, [there are] men involved in it – tea has this huge bloody history, but when you go to buy tea everything is extremely feminine. So that’s something that I think we wanted to do with it.
R: I think it is a bit more edgy; rather than being masculine, it’s a bit more edgy. A lot of people who engage with tea are women.
L: It’s been lovely though, in everything that we’ve done with it. It’s definitely not a feminine tea, but still, a lot of women are really loving what we do with it.
Tell me where the name came from?
L: Actually, we’d just been staying at the QT Hotel, having a great time there, eating lots of nice food. We jumped on the train and said, ‘Let’s move to Tasmania and we’ll get a tea caravan and we’ll have a pet goat and we’ll call it Billy Goat Brew or something,’ and then from that things just kept developing until, ‘No let’s actually have a tea company’, and the name stuck.
R: There’s also some really good imagery that comes out of the goat – all the occult stuff – then underpinning that, there’s the Australian idea of the billy and tea. It had a bit of a ramshackle approach to it, but that’s also how the head came with the third eye.
Have you seen a different side to Novocastrians through this project?
L: I think so, yeah.
R: We’ve seen people who don’t tear other people down because they’re trying something new. If I imagine us going into a different town and doing what we’re doing, I think [that’s] something that would come up. Now that you mention it, you don’t expect people to just come up and get it straight away. So that has been a lovely surprise. We’ve just had people being instantly supportive, wanting to know what it is, without necessarily going, ‘Oh well, I don’t know how that’s going to go for you’ or ‘Good luck with that’ or any of those condescending things. That has been so amazing.
Where can people buy your tea?
L: Maybe online?
R: Yes, we’re completely online at this stage outside of the markets, or Hello Naomi and The Locomotive.
If you could teach Novocastrians one thing, what would it be?
R: Oh my god, drop the bag! The tea bag. Getting people into a ritual and teaching them how to drink loose leaf tea, even if it is just for five minutes.
L: I’d probably teach them that alcohol and tea are best friends.
Fallen in love with tea right now? I bet you have. Get your tea fix with an order on their website www.billygoatbrew.co, look them up on Facebook and Instagram, or head to the next Olive Tree Markets and chat tea in person. Rose and Logan are so lovely and if nothing else, say hello and good luck to them! Newcastle needs them.