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Joerg muellersolaris

Producer Profile: Joerg Mueller of Solaris Botanicals

Joerg chats to us about their new range of speciality teas for the Dunnes Stores Simply Better collection and why quality matters. Brought to you in partnership with Dunnes Stores Simply Better


The Dunnes Stores Simply Better range has a well-deserved reputation for award-winning food and drink. Behind the scenes it also champions small Irish producers, helping them to grow while doing what they do best.

We recently caught up with Joerg Mueller of Solaris Botanicals in Galway which recently launched a range of ten speciality teas with the Simply Better brand.

"I was always interested in plants and herbs from a young age,” Mueller explains. “My mum is a traditional herbalist from the Czech Republic - my dad is German - so we did quite a bit of foraging as kids growing up.” After he left school in Germany, Mueller opted to volunteer on a social project as an alternative to military training, which saw him arrive in Ireland when he was 19 years old.

He was asked if he wanted to start a herb garden and make teas, marking his first foray into what would become his career. Following some time in the UK studying herbal medicine he came back to Ireland in 2003 and settled in Galway, Mueller founded Solaris Tea in 2005 with Karin, his wife, and from the start the focus was on quality ingredients and skilful blends. “We pride ourselves on looking out for high-grade raw materials,” Mueller explains. “That’s the key to a great product. It’s like in cooking - it can be simple ingredients but the quality makes all the difference.”

Sustainability has also been a cornerstone since the beginning and Solaris Botanicals was the first company in the world to develop a biodegradable tea bag envelope. “We’re quite proud of that and the fact that we started with a sustainability focus. It wasn’t just marketing.”

With such an abundance of quality raw materials available, Mueller feels that his role is to bring together subtle tea blends that offer real benefits. Solaris Botanicals use the whole leaf and, in the case of the
green tea Mueller says it offers 27 times the amount of antioxidants than some finer cut options. “So if you’re drinking green tea for health benefits, I would always go for a whole-leaf tea because the difference is significant.”

During lockdown a Bord Bia opportunity put the Muellers in touch with the Dunnes Stores Simply Better team who came to Solaris Botanicals HQ to see how it all works. The team was won over by Mueller’s curated tea sensory experience and the Mullers were impressed by the Simply Better team’s genuine interest in the business and their expertise. “It has been a very positive experience, working with the Simply Better team.  They took the time to really understand how we are doing certain things and why we are doing them. They were very open to supporting the level of quality that we have.

"Something I come across a lot of the time is, ‘oh yeah, cut that corner here’, or ‘we need to bring the price down’ whereas with Simply Better what was brought to the table was, ‘you’re the experts in this. We’ll go with your recommendations’. There is an understanding of what is important and I think that filters down to the end consumer and the trust that is being built. For us, we felt that our products and quality would be very well respected in the Simply Better range.”

The new tea range has been in Dunnes Stores for just a few months and Mueller is pleased with the response so far. The Peppermint tea seems to be an early favourite, while the Relax blend, a chamomile infusion with floral top notes and gentle spices is another favourite. “There is a whole range of sensory experience,” Mueller says. “Some are a little bit more soothing on the digestive system, while other ones are more uplifting. “The quality of the tea is of a different standard with the whole leaf format - you can taste it and there is a big difference in the functional level too. I encourage people to try their way through the range.” 

Brought to you in partnership with Dunnes Stores Simply Better