Bernadine Tay is brewing up success with her own tea blends in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 00:16 21 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:20 20 February 2013
Bernadine Tay is brewing up success with her own tea blends in Cheshire WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Growing up in Singapore, Bernadine Tay was always excited when her father returned home from work bearing gifts. But it wasnt the latest gadget or gizmo that piqued her interest, it was the collection of exotic and rare teas presented to him by colleagues and clients.
I loved it, said Bernadine, who now runs QuintTEAssential Fine Teas. I loved the experience of taking tea with my family. I couldnt wait to taste as many different ones as I could. It was something we shared as a family. Thats what I like about tea, it brings people together and when you drink it, you go on a voyage of discovery.
When Bernadine, who now lives in Cheadle, was a little older she began collecting teas as a hobby. She studied to be a doctor in England as well as working in marketing in Singapore for companies including Omega and Quantas.
But she missed England too much and moved to Cheshire to be with her now husband, Christos. In 2009, she decided to turn her passion into a business
She said: It was a huge leap of faith for me but designing weird and wonderful blends is my passion. I enjoy surprising people with flavour combinations that excite and entice the senses.
Bernadine experiments with hundreds of different blends at home she can test 200 teas in a day before sending her designs to master blenders around the world to create her loose leaf teas.
She draws on her own experiences to create 45 different blends of black, white, green, oolong, rooibos and fruit teas. They are made with ingredients from chocolate, strawberries, caramel and cream to cedarwood, rose petals and cornflowers.
Many of them are named after adventures and experiences Bernadine has had, including Happy, a refreshing seasonal tea she created for the summer. She was inspired for this particular blend after seeing lemon trees while on holiday in Greece. Bernadine also designs her blends to match food.
She said: Just like a sommelier pairs wine with food, an exciting tea and foodmatch can elevate an average meal to a remarkable one. And as in the case of wine, there are different varieties and intensities of teas to match particular foods.
Tea and food matching is loosely based on science but it is a creative practice. For centuries, tea has been used in this way in other cultures but is a rare occurrence in the Western world. I want to try and change that.
Despite being a new business Bernadine is already having success. Her tea Jewel of Africa, Garden of Eden, Ying and Yang and Earl Blue teas have recently been awarded one-star Gold Great Taste Awards.
Bernadine, who sells her teas at farmers markets, is about to launch internet ordering. But her dream is to stock luxury food stores like Harrods and Fortnum and Mason.
She said: I want to share my experience and make people realise tea isnt just about buying a big box of tea bags at the supermarket. People will appreciate tea more if they know the story of the tea. They are drinking a little piece of history of the origins of the tea.