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Founder and Director, Joyce

A Tea Journey

My tea consultancy 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 (now 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 1990 the tea industry was very much a man’s world. I was often mistakenly addressed as “Sir” in the Mombasa tea auction where I was the only woman in the room.

As the first female in management at the tea factories in Kenya I was something of a strange phenomenon in the industry. I am pleased to say there are many women in the trade now!

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.

founder joyce maina in the 1990s smiling next to a large line of loose tea and cups of tea
Founder and director Joyce Maina with tea accessories including teapots, loose tea and a tea whisk.
loose tea being processed in a factory

The 90s: Manufacturing & Marketing

After completing my training on the tea gardens in Kenya in 1992, I went on to advise on quality, production and tea market development.

Auction buying and tea supply management gave me an invaluable learning experience in tea tasting and manufacture. Since then I’ve bought and blended millions of pounds worth of tea for many markets.

To this day I draw on the insights I learned 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.

industrial amount of picked tea leaves

The 00s: Buying & Blending

2002 saw me move to the UK as an expatriate to continue my tea career.

I was lucky to work for all the four major tea companies – Unilever, Tetley (Tata Global Beverages), Twinings and Taylors of Harrogate/Yorkshire Tea – holding roles that included buying and blending teas from all over the world.

As Tea Master 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.

iced tea and cafetiere with lime

Products, Consumers & Markets

There is something hugely fulfilling about seeing a product you have created go on-shelf.

Consumer connections, concept building, market landscaping and trend translation to products have been a fantastic way to close the loop in my Bush – to -Brand – to – cup experience.

I have created many new tea products ranging from loose tea and tea bags to capsules. I’m particularly proud of a tea blend I created recently for non-dairy milk alternatives, the only one of its kind on the market!

person raising hand at speaking event

Customer Engagement

Pitching for product listings to key customer accounts has been an eye-opening experience.

I have been involved in pitches to supermarkets, airlines, café chains and hospitality providers in UK, Canada, and Europe.

Some of the big names are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Albert Heijn, Virgin Atlantic, Café Nero, Brakes and Sodexo.

Having a Tea Expert who can bring your products to life and imprint your product knowledge credentials is a game changer.

A line of different coloured teas in white cups on a white table

Training & Coaching

It’s because other Tea Masters trained me and coached me that I am a Tea Expert and Tea Master today. I firmly believe in doing the same for future tea tasters.

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.

cambridge tea consultancy logo

2019: Tea Consultancy

In 2019 I ventured into the Open Talent Economy creating a repository of all my 30 years tea learning and experience. It is a unique place with a wealth of knowledge and skills in one place and tapping into some of the best experts in the tea industry with whom I collaborate.

It is an accessible place for businesses, organisations and enthusiasts with an interest in tea to gain tea advisory, information, guidance, education  training. 

It is a place to share our passion for tea.

A Few Blends I’ve Helped Create

tetley british blend black tea logo
tetley pina colada herbal tea product
tassimo tetley peach iced tea product
tetley blend of both product
PG tips decaf product
tetley 180th anniversary of quality blends product
tetley kenyan gold package
tassimo tetley lemon product
pg tips blended for dairy alternatives product
tassimo twinings english breakfast tea product
tetley mojito mint lime herbal tea product
tassimo tetley product