T'ees founders;

Chronicle.lu recently had the opportunity to speak with founders of Luxembourg's new beverage startup T'ees - a healthy alternative to iced tea made with support from the local community and a mission to help the environment.

Two of the four founders, Aleks Panzone and William Gzella, shared their story and the idea behind their business.

Chronicle.lu: What prompted you to launch this product in Luxembourg and how did the project come to fruition?

Aleks Panzone: We first met a few years ago at university and discovered a shared passion for entrepreneurship, so we decided to start a business together. We had to do a few trials and errors, the first business was unfortunately not so successful.

William Gzella: We wanted to create a physical product, one where we know what is inside of it. The idea of iced tea came about, but then we had to think about differentiating ourselves from the market competitors. So, we eventually thought of planting trees, and this is where the idea really started.

Chronicle.lu: How does your product differ from the existing competition?

Aleks Panzone: It was important to come up with a bonus component for our tea, something the other companies are not doing. We wanted to create a healthier alternative, without the artificial additives often found in other iced teas. That is why our drink has no added sugar, no chemical conservatives or additives; the point was to create a local product made in Luxembourg and with an environmental aspect to it, like planting trees, as well as a social one. Our product is made by people with autism through our work with Autisme Luxembourg. It was very important to us to incorporate all three of these pillars.

Chronicle.lu: Please talk about your journey to getting your product launched in supermarkets.

William Gzella: Our product was ready in the beginning of 2023, so we started selling to friends and family. After starting to sell in one store in Esch and getting feedback from that, we managed to get into bigger chains like Cactus.

Aleks Panzone: It took time to get some traction. We started with small cafes and local shops, but through meeting people and really building a name for the brand, we were able to gain visibility.

Chronicle.lu: How does your company contribute to Luxembourgish society and the wider global issues?

Aleks Panzone: It was a key aspect of our business to support the local economy and the environment. As mentioned before, our tea is handmade in Luxembourg by people with autism, which tackles the social and local features of our mission. We incorporated the environmental aspect by focusing on climate change, specifically the protection of the Amazon Rainforest. For every 100 bottles sold we plant one tree. At the same time, we donate monthly to Junglekeepers, an association in the USA aiming to protect the Rainforest. Additionally, we use glass bottles to promote a circular economy and reduce the consumption of plastic.

Chronicle.lu: What are the future steps and aspirations for your business?

William Gzella: Hopefully, be able to sell in all of Luxembourg and become available everywhere. The overarching goal is to promote a healthier lifestyle in this country through healthier alternatives. Iced tea is the first product that we made, but we have aspirations to create more products to help this mission as well as promote social and environmental consciousness. We find it imperative to support local businesses, local farmers, and generally the people of Luxembourg.