This week we chatted with the beautiful Jill McLeod, one half of the brains behind Tatami Tea, the recently launched, ethically sourced, organic tea brand that’s about to take over the way we enjoy our cuppa.
Name: Jill Mcleod
Occupation: Tatami Tea co-creator
Current Residence: Hong Kong
If you could have tea with three people, living or dead, who would they be? 1. Matt Berninger, lead singer of The National...hopefully tea could turn into karaoke and we could do a duet. 2. Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize Winning Psychologist and 3. Maria Abramović! She so wholeheartedly commits to her art - maybe we could just sit.
What made you want to launch a tea brand?
I’ve always been a lover of tea. It has the incredible ability to bring a sense of calm and comfort and it’s a ritual I love sharing with friends and family. My co-founder Steph and I would often catch up over a pot of tea and Tatami is something we’ve been slowly working towards for years. We’re committed to the simple integrity of our brand; ethically sourced, organic tea delivered thoughtfully.
What's the symbolism behind Tatami?
The Tatami mat is the Japanese flooring on which the tea ceremony traditionally takes place. For us, this is the symbol of ritual, integrity and connectedness; it’s an anchor for aligning everything from our design to the selection and quality of our tea. Our incredibly talented friend and designer, Mitch Reyes, from Australia has blended these ideas to create our minimal and thoughtful branding.
What's been your favourite part of the creation process?
Tatami is such an incredible learning process and also just so much fun. We get to work so closely with each other, and with amazingly talented people, to see our skills and ideas evolve. Seeing all of this come together as our teas landed with our first customers was amazing.
You live in Hong Kong and your business partner Steph lives in Australia - how do you find the process of co-ordinating internationally on the business?
Luckily for us, a business meeting also means catching up, and Steph and I work really well together. We don’t have the same ideas or skills but we have a good appreciation of the value each of us bring to Tatami. A pre-dawn meeting isn’t uncommon but luckily we’re both (usually) ok with early rises.
Can you tell us more about the teas and where they come from?
We currently have six organic teas in our range and they’re the classics. Our teas are all certified organic and hand-packed in Hong Kong and Sydney. We spent just over one year sampling our teas, talking with plantation owners and getting feedback from tea-lovers before our launch.
What's your favourite or most used flavour and why?
I’m a big fan of our Matcha from Kyoto, Japan. It’s smooth and full-flavoured and so versatile. Matcha’s health benefits are almost unparalleled; loaded with antioxidants, boosts metabolism and provides long lasting energy. I also love the ritual of making Matcha; there’s no cutting corners.
What can we expect from Tatami?
We’re working on a few new projects and we’re really excited to be welcoming our very own tea strainers to our online store soon! They’re beautifully simple.
We love your instagram posts and ideas for combining food and tea - you’ve done matcha pancakes and cookies - what are some of your favourite recipes for mixing tea into our everyday recipes?
I am really getting into tea cocktails! Can they be everyday items? One of my favourites at the moment is an Earl Grey Collins. Its super easy to infuse gin with tea - just steep the leaves for 1-2 hours and strain. The fragrant bergamot from the Early Grey pairs so well with fresh lemon and is a delightful twist on the classic Tom Collins.
As someone very careful of her environment and wellbeing, what are some tips you have on staying focused and stress-free in a city like Hong Kong?
Hong Kong can be a hectic! There are always events, work pressures, traffic or other environmental influences (including the enduring battle between humidity and my hair!). I have two habits that I’ve found to be really helpful. My first is to write down my priorities and check in on these every day. I actually have them on paper stuck to the wall next to my bed. They’re things that I really care about; taking care of myself, building relationships, Tatami, learning new things… you get the idea. It reminds me everyday of where I want spend my energy. The second tip I have is to find space everyday to really focus on just one thing. It can be as simple as taking a yoga class, making a cup of tea or reading a good book but the aim is to have complete attention on what you’re actually doing. It can be really challenging to let go of everything else that’s happening in your life and in your head but it is also incredibly refreshing.
You can find out more about Tatami Tea here and stalk their instagram account for delicious recipes and mouth watering teas. This month Jill has given Rug Lane readers an online shopping discount code. Get in early for some Christmas presents using RUGLANE15