5 Minutes With ... Vanessa & Jodie, She-Tea

There is nothing like discovering something that excites you so much that you want to share it with the world. Just recently I discovered She-Tea, a fabulous tea label designed by tea snobs for tea snobs. Based in Daylesford, Victoria, She-Tea gives consumers an unforgettable sensory experience, from the visually appealing cannisters which contain the most beautiful illustrations, the aromatic scent and crisp, pure taste that every She-Tea variety offers and their oh-so-catchy (and often humerous) names. She-Tea sets the mood with an unforgettable experience that will have you coming back for more.

She-Tea was born in 2008 when work colleagues (and self-confessed tea snobs) Vanessa Carslake and Jodie Fergusson-Batte decided that they wanted more from life. After dreaming of creating beautiful tea blends, Vanessa & Jodie decided to make it a reality, cue She-Tea. As they ventured through life's milestones, the friends created different blends to suit their moods and lifestyles such as Booze Hound, Motherhood and B*tch is Back. If that wasn't cool enough, we discovered that Jodie is also the talented artist behind She-Tea's signature illustrations which can be seen on the canisters... how cool is that! After discovering She-Tea we knew it was like no other tea brand on the market and we are so passionate about the business. Vanessa and Jodie to talk She-Tea with Spoilt and what it means to them...

Spoilt is besotted with She-Tea! Was it a big gamble to leave a well-paying job in search of happiness? Vanessa: Yes it sure was, but we believe in it. We love working for ourselves, being around our children and actually having created a business from the ground up, instead of the corporate grind we were living in. But there are certainly days when we miss the 'golden handcuffs' and all the perks, but they will come with She-Tea eventually and will be way more satisfying!

Before having children you both drank and smoked (hence your much-loved Booze Hound blend). Would you say you now lead healthier lifestyles? Jodie: Most definitely. Once we decided we wanted to start a family we totally changed our lifestyle to suit. Having two kids with just two years between them, juggling the warehouse duties as well as my art business is daily chaos so a hangover is just not an option - though a rather large glass of wine is in order sometimes... especially after the 5pm witching hour! 

Vanessa: Jodie and I love to look back and have a good chuckle about antics of the past and we are happy in the knowledge we will have a keen eye for any mischief our kids get into, as we have been there and done it and thought we were pretty sneaky! (laughs)

You're busy mothers and businesswomen... how do you juggle it all? Jodie: It takes a lot of stamina and determination, with constant reminders of our goals and vision. We have learnt to stop and take a breath along the way. We laugh a lot, have naughty nicknames for bad days, send ourselves up regularly and have a giggle about our 'what the hell are we doing?' moments to break the stress up too. 

Vanessa: There are frequent 3am brainwaves that we email through before they are forgotten again, and they have been some of our best ideas. It’s relentless with business and children but we love it and wouldn’t trade it back for the corporate sales life.

What is the process for creating a new blend and how do you choose a name? Vanessa: We introduce them as we find a need for them. We started our range with all cheeky blends which we thought were hilarious - well, we did create them over bottle or two of wine! But since becoming mums and getting more market feedback we have mellowed down a bit and scrapped tea blends Scorned for Love and Virginal Quest for Motherhood. They are like a story of our lives really! We create the tea according to an emotion we’d like to evoke or an experience that we’d like to recognise, then match the tea to that (such as Zen is a very calming tea and Booze Hound is cleansing for the morning after a big night), and then Jodie matches the artwork. They are all very interwoven.

How and where do you source your blends of tea? Vanessa: When we decide on a tea canister creation we then set about sourcing the tea blend. This involves tea tasting, asking friends and family for feedback on ideas, research into the benefits of the teas if appropriate, market popularity and then more tasting. All of our organic teas are sourced from fair trade, biodynamic plantations in Sri Lanka, as not only do they have delicious tea but they actually really care and help their workers. They focus on traditional growing methods as well as support educational opportunities of local growing communities. Our other blends are sourced from all over the world, and we try to source organic, fair trade wherever we can but sometimes it isn't possible.

How important was it to source an ethical product which is both fair-trade and certified organic? Very. We love knowing that the majority of our teas are picked by happy, supported people and are not doused in chemicals. It’s very important to us that we pay a good price to our growers so that they are able to sustain positive working and living conditions. This aspect of our company will not change and, in fact, we are working on moving towards sourcing all of our She-Tea blends from this region.

Can you tell us a little about each She-Tea blend? There are a lot of blends in our range now. We have 14 already and still find new ones we would love to introduce in future. We have our Everyday Organics range in biodegradable pyramid bags, and these are our biggest sellers. They are the everyday favourite teas (such as breakfast tea, green & jasmine, vanilla chai and so on), all inspired by life in the beautiful country town of Daylesford, Victoria. They are quick and easy to use, just like a tea bag but with beautiful tea leaves and more space for the leaves to unfurl and provide a taste that is a close second to a pot of loose leaf tea. Then we have our Loose Leaf Masterpiece - artfully crafted herbal teas created to support women through each of life's turns. With blends including Warrior (black citrus tea), Motherhood (apple pie blend), and Sweet Tooth (black tea, caramel & vanilla), these are used as great little gifts for women and cover just about all of life’s experiences. If you have a peek at www.she-tea.com.au we have all of their little stories and ingredients there.

Jodie, you are so talented, we adore the gorgeous illustrations seen on She-Tea canisters. Have you always dabbled in art? Jodie: Thank you! I have always painted and love painting women. That’s why when the idea came up of combining my artwork with tea and a story it just seemed like such a great fit. A lot of women really enjoy original art but not everyone can afford to buy a painting. Our thinking was that we were providing original art, with the comfort and ritual of tea, as well as the humour in our blend stories on each canister. We were bringing something absolutely unique to the tea market and that’s exactly what we wanted to do.

Tea is the new coffee. Why do you think this is so? Vanessa: The benefits and variety of tea is so immense and people are really becoming more aware of this. It is also easy to drink hot and cold, can be infused into food menus and even kids can drink many of the herbal blends. Tea is also a healthy ritual for a lot of people. It represents nurturing your body and your mind, and calls on long-standing traditions that bring a sense of comfort and belonging. Brewing a pot of tea, swirling the leaves, using your favourite cup, and taking time to lose yourself for a few minutes can mean the difference between feeling rested and relaxed and feeling rushed and dishevelled.

Which She-Tea blend do you love most and why? Vanessa: I love Motherhood. I created that one as 'an apple pie in a teacup'. It evokes memories of sitting down and chatting to my mum and my sisters over a hot apple pie and cuppa and the aim is for busy mums to be able to sit and relax with it for a few minutes, pluck the Lego and Play-doh out of their hair, while also getting the great health benefits of the white tea (more antioxidants than green!). It is also a perfect gift for the Mum who has everything and loves tea!

What makes you feel Spoilt? Vanessa: Taking some time out for indulgence, as well as feeling the love of my supportive family and friends. My gorgeous husband organised a surprise dinner out last weekend for my birthday and had arranged for one of my best friends to come over and mind the girls! That made me feel Spoilt - so often we hear about crappy relationships and I feel blessed with mine. 

Jodie: A spa, massage, tea and a magazine. That’s me!