In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March we chatted with six women who are shaking up the tea industry! They each saw a niche in the tea market, decided to follow their dreams and founded their own tea businesses. And the tea world is all the richer for them! 

The first in our Women in Tea series is Bernadine Tay, Founder and Tea Designer at Quinteassential. Graduating in 2001 with a degree in biomedical science from King’s College, London, Bernadine started her career in marketing. In 2008 she moved on to pursue her true love in the tea business. Using her scientific knowledge to create unique blends with exquisite flavours, she has since won 9 Great Taste Awards out of 12 blends to date. 

Q. What inspired you to found the company?

Quinteassential was born out of my love for cuisine, culture and care. And tea embodies all these things. Tea can teach you so much about how someone from a different culture lives, what they eat and how tea is used in social occasions to connect with each other. Its superpowers are known around the world for centuries and have been used as remedies to treat common illnesses. My passion for this very special beverage led me to this wonderful journey and life of tea.

Q. How are you enriching your customers’ lives?

The need to escape the hardships of life and reset, even for a moment has never been more important. Stress and anxiety is an epidemic of the 21st century and is the precursor to many illnesses. There has never been more of a need to take some time to reset and realise things are not as bad as they seem. With an exciting range of flavours inspired by memories, we hope to bring tea drinkers on an imaginary voyage, even if it’s momentary. Each blend has a unique piece of music designed to provide a multi sensory experience to transport you. Simply make the tea mindfully, when the water is poured, scan the QRcode on the box, listen to the music and inhale. When the music is done, your tea is ready and brewed in perfect time. It’s a little investment that could be rewarding for your day.

My greatest belief is that life is too short and everyone should enjoy what they drink

Q. What excites you the most about the future of tea?

In the coming years, the distinction between teas designed for enjoyment and those designed for health will continue to blur. Given the natural benefits of tea in pure form, tea drinkers can focus on finding varieties that they enjoy. The excitement for me as a tea designer of flavours and experiences is the opportunity to design blends that help other’s health and wellbeing. My greatest belief is that life is too short and everyone should enjoy what they drink, as that contributes to happiness. Wellness is about the mind as much as it’s for the body.

Q. Finally, tell us about your perfect tea moment.

Although tea drinking can be highly beneficial in solitude, my perfect tea moment would be sharing a pot with someone, even a stranger. Place and time does not matter but quality of tea and type of teaware does. Tea drinking can be highly enjoyable when experienced with a special tea in the right cup. Similar to the wine drinking experience, tea’s embrace can be felt in the warmth of its perfect vessel.

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