Obsessed with tea? Perhaps just a little.
There was a time that I turned my nose up at tea, and looked incredulously at people who drank the stuff, and seemed to enjoy it too.
And then came that trip to Poland in 2002. Our good friends had recently opened the cafe "Wesoła Kawka" and with a tea list that seemed longer than a car trip from Melbourne to Adelaide, a curiosity for tea emerged. Granted, the only tea I was prepared to try was a richly sweet fruity blend, the kind you can eat at the end without gagging, but a seed had been sown. I was immediately hooked.
This seed lay dormant for several years, until the idea of Tielka was conceived in 2008. An insatiable passion for tea that could only be satisfyingly fed with hours of google-tea research, endless trips to tea shops and buckets of tea tasting, was born.
Yes, my life outside of tea does exist too. When I'm not drinking a bottomless pot of Jade Mist Green Tea, I am running after three boys that took a chunk of my heart the day they were born, and I'm sure quietly vow never to give it back. What's left of that heart belongs to that sexy Russian I married in 2003 in St Petersburg, Russia (and imported to Australia in 2004).
I'm also a bit of a writer. When our third boy explosively entered the world in 2018 with an unexpected extra chromosome and a few medical complications, I realised I had something to say. Exactly nine months to the day after Andrew was born, BrollyBlue was born: a personal blog on my faith journey through finding rest, silver linings and connection (and of course, drinking endless cups of tea) when life doesn't go to plan.
And I sing too. Not brilliantly, but I've been coaxed onto the stage on numerous occasions... musical theatre and light opera was my genre of choice for many years. I even have a Bachelor of Music - perhaps not the letters you need on your business card when you're MD of a thriving tea business, but it did get me a husband, who took me to Poland, introduced me to tea, gave me three precious boys and more than one reason to Indulge in Life.
Alexei - also an avid tea drinker. His tea beverage of choice is a bit broader and more medicinal than mine (I often see him sitting down to a massive pot of pu-erh tea after a big meal, Jade Mist Green Tea before the gym, Earl Royale Black Tea to relax). Being Russian, tea is in his blood, and most certainly enjoyed several times a day without milk, from a very early age (for the kids it's weak tea with lots of sugar).
He certainly deserves a bunch of credit for this whole thing. When we launched Tielka, Alexei was in the middle of his MBA at Melbourne Business School and his knowledge and expertise gained have been very timely and invaluable. And although I'd like to say my input has been dominant, there have been numerous "told you so" moments when I have humbly realised that I should have listened to that piece of advice or snippet of knowledge ("Keep the range small!!!" I can hear him saying as I write this...).
Now he runs his own marketing agency targeted towards SMEs (Greenlamp Marketing Solutions), but I suppose he should include marketing awesome tea company on his list of credentials.
What else can I say about Alexei? Gym junkie, foodie, lover of gadgets, androids and most of all, irreplaceable awesome dad and husband.