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He couldn't make a cuppa – now Derbyshire schoolboy has thriving iced tea business

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: July 23, 2014

By Caroline Jones and Louise Edge

  • Zachary Tong is creating his own range of Rogue Monkey drinks.

  • Zachary Tong is creating his own range of Rogue Monkey drinks.

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A TEENAGER who did not know how to make a cup of tea has now set up a business producing up to 200 bottles of iced tea each day.

Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School pupil Zachary Tong decided to start up Rogue Monkey Drinks because he did not expect to do that well in his GCSEs.

The 16-year-old has always been interested in business and set up his first "company", Silence, at the age of five – when he used to charge his parents £2 an hour to keep quiet on car journeys.

Zachary, of Ashbourne – who also used to run stalls and garage sales – makes his peppermint iced tea from 5am each day in a town warehouse, using converted micro-brewery equipment.

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He delivers it to outlets in Ashbourne, Derby and Uttoxeter who sell it on his behalf for £1.25 to £2 a bottle.

Zachary, of Premier Avenue, said he chose to make drinks because it was "scalable" but, knowing little about tea or iced tea, he decided to seek advice from an independent tea consultant via the internet. He produces one flavour but hopes to extend the range to up to five.

Zachary said: "A lot of my business has been devised using Google – everything from my first tea recipe to the firm manufacturing the bottle caps or the company creating my business cards.

"I've found my age helped me to set up my business because people have been so good to me and wanting to help. I don't think it matters if you don't have any knowledge of something beforehand. The key is having enough enthusiasm to learn about it and just bring it to the market.

"It is definitely a more profitable time of year now, with the good weather, and I'm just hoping we can make it through the winter and start looking at other flavours."

Zachary, who receives help from his mother, Lisa Wallace, 47, said he started making the tea in his kitchen. He used to deliver the bottles using his bicycle but now has help from a neighbour.

Zachary said: "The first time I tried making it, I was boiling these tea leaves in water for about 10 minutes but I really didn't have a clue. I contacted the consultant and he said to me: 'What on earth are you doing that for?' – so he quickly helped me with the process and worked with me on the flavour.

"It's a lot of fun but it's hard work – sometimes when it's 2am on Saturday and you're still making tea, while all your friends are out, you wonder why you're doing it. But then you see people drinking your drink and realise you are impacting on their lives and that is an amazing feeling."

The idea for the name of the company came about before Zachary had even decided what product to make. He said: "My mum works for Severn Trent and she came back from this conference where they talked about experiments in the 90s where they were conditioning monkeys not to go for these bananas.

"One monkey ignored all the others and went for them anyway – it's meant to be an inspirational tale and my mum said: 'Whatever business you set up, make sure it's called Rogue Monkey'.

"It's great because it really captures the imagination."

For more information about Rogue Monkey Drinks, visit www.facebook.com/Roguemonkeydrink.

EDITOR'S COMMENT:

HOW often do most of us dream about the future – what job we would like to do, what business we would like to set up and so on – but never really act on it?

Perhaps we should take some inspiration from Zachary Tong who, at 16, has decided to set up his own business selling bottles of iced tea.

His firm, Rogue Monkey Drinks, is already supplying its products to several cafés in Ashbourne, Derby and Uttoxeter, and he is working from 5am each day to keep his customers happy.

The attitude he demonstrates is wonderful and his story is a reminder to us all that not every young person is lazy, a vandal or a hooligan in the making.

What Zachary also shows us is that, whatever point we are at in our lives, there is nothing to stop us from achieving what we want.

At five years old, he would charge his parents £2 an hour to keep quiet on car journeys. It was not going to put him on his way to make millions but it was certainly an industrious thing to do at his age.

Today, the Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School pupil said the inspiration to set up his own company came about over concerns he would not do well in his GCSEs.

But regardless of what those grades turn out to be, he has already achieved something many of us dream of – to be our own boss with a thriving, independent business.

And he has done that at a time when many new firms are struggling to find their place in the market amid a backdrop of cost-cutting and belt-tightening.

But, as Zachary says, he believes it is enthusiasm rather than anything else which has helped him bring his product to market. He even admitted his knowledge of his product was limited at first – he did not know how to make a cup of tea – but his willingness to make his firm a success overcame this.

How many of us can talk about how motivated we are about achieving our goals but then fail to take action, unlike Zachary, and put our money where our mouth is?

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