Founder and Director, Joyce
A Tea Journey
My tea journey began rather serendipitously over 30 years ago in Kenya, where I was born and raised.
I applied to a graduate scheme at Brooke Bond (part of Unilever), not quite knowing what I was going to do. Coming straight from university, I had no idea Tea Tasting was a thing, let alone a career!
The Changing Face Of Tea
In the 1990s the tea industry was very much a man’s world. I was often mistakenly addressed as “Sir” in the Mombasa tea auction room as there were no other women!
As the first female in management at the tea factories in Kenya I was something of a strange phenomenon in the area. I am pleased to say there are many women in the trade now at all levels.
I was very lucky to find people along the way who taught me and guided me, enabling me to find a career that I still enjoy enormously even now, and am extremely passionate about.
The 90s: Manufacturing & Marketing
After completing my training on the tea gardens in Kenya in 1992, I went on to advise on production quality, manufacture and tea market development.
Auction buying and tea supply management gave me an invaluable learning experience in tea tasting and gave me a good grounding on tea product knowledge. Since then, I’ve bought and blended millions of pounds of tea for markets all over the world.
To this day, I draw on the insights I gained in those formative years. This stint also gave me fantastic exposure to all the key markets and market players around the world. I ended up working for Unilever for 17 years altogether.
The 00s: Sourcing, Buying & Blending
2002 saw me move to the UK to continue my tea career.
I have been lucky to work for four major tea companies and brands – Unilever, Tetley (Tata Global Beverages), Twinings and Taylors of Harrogate – holding roles that included buying and blending teas from all over the world.
I have created product portfolios of black tea, green tea, decaffeinated teas, herbal infusions and iced tea products.
The markets I have covered and blended teas for include Europe, the Middle East, North America, Australia and India.
Products, Consumers & Markets
Understanding what they want is the secret to success. Getting the opportunity to work with consumer connections, concept building, market landscaping and trend-to-product translation have been a fantastic way to close the loop in my crop to cup experience.
There is something hugely fulfilling about seeing a product you have created go on-shelf. I have created many new tea products ranging from premium loose teas and tea bags to K-cups and capsules.
There are many creations I’m proud of, and still continue to add to the list particularly in the speciality market today working with fresh, modern brands who believe in quality.
Pitching for product listings to key customer accounts has been an eye-opening experience.
I have been involved in pitches to supermarkets, airlines, cafe chains and hospitality providers in UK, Canada, and Europe.
Some of the big names are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Albert Heijn, Virgin Atlantic, Cafe Nero, Brakes and Sodexo.
Having an expert who can bring your products to life and imprint your product knowledge credentials is a game changer.
Training & Coaching
It is because other tea masters trained me, and coached me that I am an expert today, and I firmly believe in doing the same for others.
I have trained and certified tasters, tea buyers and blenders, tea factory managers, marketing managers as well as conducting sessions for customers and tea barristers.
My Tea Masterclass at the London Coffee Festival in 2017 was a popular event that I enjoyed presenting. More recently, I have provided speciality tea training on quality and market access to SMEs from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Myanmar.
2019: My Tea Consultancy
In 2019 I decided to venture into the Open Talent Economy and create a place that is a drinking well of all my learning and experience; It is also a unique place that brings together some of the best experts from the tea industry; with fantastic knowledge and skills.
It is an accessible place for businesses, organisations and enthusiasts with an interest in tea to tap into for tea advice, information, education, training – and having fun with tea.
It is a place to spread our passion for tea and ignite the love of tea.