My name is Tania Stacey, a tea specialist, YouTuber, tea educator and online tea sales. I have always primarily been a tea drinker but my interest to explore the world of tea as a business happened after an encounter in Tianjin, China. I was hunting through the local markets and purchased an interesting teapot. The shopkeeper then invited me to join him for a cup of green tea in the rear of the shop. Up to that moment I had only drunk over-brewed green tea in local Chinese restaurants – bitter or tasteless were my memories, until I tried the green tea brewed and prepared before me by the generous shopkeeper. It was delicious, sweet, light and delicate. I couldn’t believe green tea could taste so beautiful. My first thought was why don’t I come across tea like this in Australia? My career at the time was in a high level corporate world and I was looking for a career and lifestyle change. Tea seemed as good an option as any. I was interested in tea and I enjoyed tea and I can only sell a product that I truly believe can make a customer’s life a little better or easier. It has to make a difference and quality pure tea fitted my criteria.
Very quickly I discovered the more I researched tea, the more I realised the study of tea is a lifetime of learning. In China, the home of tea, it takes 10-15 years to achieve Tea Mastery. But once this is achieved, they acknowledge it is forever a constant learning process. There are no equivalent courses in English, so I travel regularly to learn from scientists, masters, scholars, farmers and tea professionals who are more often than not born into the industry and have spent their lives working in the family business. We all consider ourselves students of the leaf and love learning about the second most consumed beverage in the world. So what I thought would be a disadvantage actually helped me to develop a positive attitude for selling tea – don’t pretend to know all about tea.
Other struggles I have encountered in the tea business include educating people about the difference between supermarket tea vs quality speciality tea. Not surprisingly most seasoned tea drinkers understand and I have come across a number of men that like to make their own tea blends. It is the new tea drinker that has yet to build a seasoned palate. However, I believe that coffee and wine have managed to build their specialty profiles within their respective commodity markets – Instant coffee and Cask Wine. The commodity market for tea is: 1. The teabag, and 2; Boutique tea companies with tea blends that are based on poor quality tea, covered in oils or fruit, masking as speciality blends. Of course there is the industry of skinny tea and detox tea which plays on the body image. Therefore I have to tackle the subject and let people know that tea is great but not a magic pill for a wholesome eating plan.
Seven years into my tea journey, I have built on my marketing degree with social media skills, set up a weekly Tea focused YouTube Channel, won Australia’s Tea Brewing Championship, travelled to Shanghai to come fourth out of 22 competitors, bought & sold a café, increasingly partake as a guest tea educator for workshops and adult learning centres, Judged tea brewing competitions, supply quality pure leaf single estate teas, acknowledged as a Taiwan Tea specialist and formed tea collaborations such as Old Barrel Tea – whisky infused tea.
Tea and me in the future? I will continue to work towards a better understanding of tea within the market. The people behind the leaf; the farmers, pickers, scientists, educators, graders, and judges need to be highlighted and given a voice as tea is so much more than the teabag sitting on a supermarket shelf. It would be good to see the hospitality industry picking up their game in tea and capitalizing on the large tea consumer market. I have other tea collaborations in the pipeline with some very special tea companies including tea tours to Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan. Watch this space!
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