My love affair with tea really began when I lived in London from 2008 to 2010. My friends and I went to Claridge’s, The Dorchester, The Connaught, The Berkeley, The Ritz (which wasn’t the best by the way despite its reputation!) for their afternoon tea service. It was during those afternoons out that I started to think about tea as being something more than a simple drink; it was an experience, a ritual, a way to relax, a lovely reason to connect with close friends and family.
At the same time, I attended a tea masterclass run by tea specialist Jane Pettigrew. I remember feeling astounded at this incredible world of tea I had no idea existed! The fact that you could make white, green, yellow, oolong, black and fermented tea out of the same tea leaf; the rich history of tea and how it dated back to 2737BC; the craft and attention that goes into each batch of pure leaf tea; how you can taste caramel, earthy, floral, milky and fruity flavours all from this simple leaf – and how herbal tea isn’t really tea!
Attending that class was influential in my decision to train to become a Certified Tea Master with the Australian Tea Masters Association in 2015 when I lived in Melbourne.
I often get asked what my favourite tea is and I find this question really hard to answer! The Chinese are absolute experts at producing incredible tea and I drink a lot of their black tea, particularly with my breakfast and for morning tea (normally accompanied by a cacao bliss ball and nuts). I love the sweet notes of honey, caramel and dark chocolate balanced with earthy, woody flavours. I’ve also just finished a yummy pack of Woojeon, a buttery and substantial green tea from South Korea. And I can’t go past Da Hong Pao which is a very special Chinese oolong that tastes of baked apple, aromatic wood and flowers.
The best part of my job is sitting down to taste tea and deciding what to include in my subscription boxes. I often dedicate a few hours for this each time and surround myself with my aroma kit, tea books, kettle, gaiwans (Chinese brewing vessels), cups and loads of tea samples. It takes me about half an hour to properly taste each tea. I enjoy it so much it doesn’t feel like work at all. And I’ve discovered there is such a thing as a tea high!
My other loves besides artisan tea are small batch gin, smoky single malt whiskey, big glasses of red wine, basking in the sun, immersing myself in other cultures, good magazines (Mindfood and Collective Hub are my current subscriptions) and every now and again treating myself at a day spa. Oh, and my husband Andy and two little girls (Vienna, 4, and Lola, 1,) of course.
My favourite travel experience was when I was in Italy in 2010 with Andy and two close friends, Brad and Renee, and, by chance, we stumbled upon a wine festival in Chianti. The sun was shining, everyone was happy and there was an abundance of Chianti wine to drink. BEST DAY EVER.
One of my philosophies on life is that you can never spend too much money on travel and good food.
I’m very passionate about people prioritising their health and believe if we fill our body with nutrient-dense food, understand how to deal with our stress and reduce our cortisol levels, get a good night’s sleep (which is hard with little kids I know!), move our bodies a lot and strengthen our brains by learning new things we’ll have the energy and focus to achieve success, whatever that might look like for us.
You might be surprised to know that I played rugby in my last two years of secondary school; I’ve had one flying lesson; I’ve bungy-jumped off the Auckland harbour bridge; I’ve spent time alone with an enormous Orangutan in an enclosure in Borneo (she was friendly thankfully…); I’m pretty good at DIY (I own a tool box and electric drill); and I have 16 teapots, 57 tea cups and 92 different types of tea distributed in different cupboards all across my house.