We’ve briefly hinted at how Athletic Tea Co. began but I wanted to tell you the full story. Here it is:
In 2016, two friends and I embarked on the biggest challenge of our lives - to cycle the length of South America for Right to Play, Kidney Cancer UK and Alzheimer’s Society. I had not owned a bike before and no real endurance experience to talk about. Starting our trip at 3,500 metres then was not perhaps the greatest idea.
Within days I found myself in hospital due to food poisoning and so began one of the toughest months of my life. Days on the bike were long, waking up in freezing conditions at 5am, cycling through the heat of the day until the sun went down. I wasn’t sleeping well and felt constantly tired on the bike.
I turned to the solution we so often do when tired - sugar and lots of caffeine. Energy drinks and coffees provided a welcome spike in energy but then came the dreaded slump. I quickly found my sleep patterns worsen and my performance on the bike decrease. So I tried more sugar and more caffeine and the vicious cycle began.
Something needed to change and fortunately it did in Argentina. We saw everyone holding wooden mugs and had no idea what they contained. The answer: Yerba mate (pronounced ma-tay) - “La Bebida de los Dioses” or “The Drink of the Gods”.
Yerba mate has been drunk for centuries in this part of South America and it’s easy to see why locals swear by it. Whilst the drink contains caffeine, the body processes it in a different way to coffee, providing a gentle and sustained energy boost over several hours. Scientific studies have found it to improve sporting performance as a result, especially in relation to endurance events.
Regularly being offered mate on the side of the road, I started to get into a routine of drinking it, taking less coffee and sugar based drinks. The results were phenomenal - I didn’t get an immediate mega-kick from the mate but that was a good thing. I was cycling for 12 hours a day yet still had plenty of energy leftover to read and practice my Spanish in the evenings. I slept well and my performance on the bike vastly improved as a result.
I kept my mate for the remainder of the trip, powering through 12,500 kilometres, six countries and 115,000 metres of vertical Andean climb. We raised £50,000 for the three charities and we can look back on the adventure as a great success.
Upon arriving back in the UK, I wanted to spread the word on the power of yerba mate and its effect on sporting performance. I teamed up with world-leading tea tasters and sports nutritionists to create a range of teas to improve sporting performance. We found there were actually many more natural ingredients we could use to enhance results - Japanese matcha powders, Chinese Chunmee, South African Rooibos and Siberian Ginseng to name a few and so Athletic Tea Co. was born.
We tried over 500 flavours of tea to perfect not only flavour but also performance - to track test them I ran the length of Iceland in October 2017, setting a new world record with 17 marathons in 10 days. Taking energy teas in the morning, performance teas throughout the day and recovery teas at night, I genuinely saw a huge benefit.
Tea has fuelled my extraordinary over the past year. Now let’s fuel yours.