The Joekels Story

It all started with 2 guys, a dream, and a cement mixer.
We are the tea masters. Here at Joekels, we pack, blend and distribute some of South Africa’s most popular household tea brands. It all began in 1994, when Joe Swart and Jonathan Kelsey joined forces and names (Joe Swart + Jonathan Kelsey) to create Joekels Tea Packers. They left their jobs and pooled their resources, putting everything they had behind their dream of making tea their business. And so the Phendula Tips brand was born, in a small operation running from Joe’s garage.
Joe and Jonathan initially blended tea from a cement mixer that they purchased from a friend, teaching themselves the basics of blending, packing, and sales. They say all good things are worth waiting for, and the Joekels story is no exception. Success did not come overnight. It took a lot of hard work and strain to build the business into the success story that it is today.
Today, we’re considered the tea experts. In fact, we’re the third largest tea manufacturer in South Africa. We also pack about 95% of all private label tea products in South Africa.
In 2003, we purchased the Laager brand from Unilever. Three years later, Tetley (a division of the Tata Group and one of the world’s largest tea companies), joined forces with Joekels, later purchasing a majority share in the Joekels business.
In 2007, we added the Teeco and Southall’s brands to the Joekels Family. Then, in 2015 we insured Jonathan’s tongue and taste buds for R5 million – to ensure the continuation of our trademark quality and consistency for years to come. And as a testament to this quality, we’re still selling our very first product, Phendula Tips: a favourite in KZN homes.

Joe Swart

Co-founder and behind-the-scenes businessman, Joe Swart has also been in the tea business for 26 years. Previously an accountant for a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, it’s clear that Swart has put his financial expertise to good use at Joekels.

Jonathan Kelsey

Co-founder and master tea blender, Jonathan Kelsey has been in the tea business for 26 years. He’s also known as the man with Africa’s most expensive tongue, having insured his tongue and taste buds for R5 million.

In 1999, Joe and Jonathan were awarded the National Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The following year, Swart and Kelsey were nominated for the Marketing Excellence Awards from the Institute of Marketing Management.
In 2012, we became the only tea producers in South Africa to receive the Global Food Safety Certification FSSC22000. Two years after that, Swart and Kelsey were both nominated as finalists for the 2014 World Entrepreneur Awards.

Did you know that we pack 95% of South Africa’s private label teas? Take a look at some of the popular brands we manufacture and package tea for:

Ritebrand Black Tea, Ritebrand Rooibos

Housebrand Black Tea, Housebrand Rooibos, Cooper & Flyn tea range

UBrand Black Tea and UBrand Rooibos

Spar Black Tea, Spar Rooibos, SaveMor Black Tea

No Name Black Tea, No Name Rooibos, PnP Ceylon Blend Black Tea, PnP Rooibos

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