Today we’re delighted to present an interview with our High Tea Party partner, Lisa Barakat, CEO of To a Tea Specialty Teas.
I talked to Lisa about what tea means to her and why. She shared her passion for tea-cosies, family and the healing power of tea.
Lisa, can you tell us where your love of tea came from?
As a child, I spent some time living in Singapore and I was fascinated by the tea traditions – I love the sense of coming together, the rituals, history and healing behind a simple cup of tea.
Many years later, I found myself purposeless, I’d lost my “happy” and tea helped me find it again … and that’s pretty much how it became about you, about me, about all of us, To A Tea.
What is your favourite tea?
Oolong. It’s a lovely Chinese black tea that I can steep to any strength that I want, depending on my mood. I don’t even need to add sugar, as it has a sweet aftertaste. It boosts my metabolism, helps my cholesterol and increases my mental alertness … and I need every bit of help I can get 😉
Why are you so passionate about tea?
All I really want is for people to stop … even if it’s just for that moment, to take a breath, let it brew and have the warmth of the tea, just seep into your body and comfort you.
Do you have fond memories of drinking tea with a special person?
Mostly I remember my fascination with my grandmother’s collection of tea cosies: the array of colours and textures. To me, they were hats to be worn and dance around in, much to her dismay!
Funnily, though, having tea with my grandmother also made me feel special: being together, waiting to have my cup poured, the sandwiches and cakes, everything was so yummy and terribly grown-up.
My mission is to make tea-cosies a fashion statement again!
Do you think (as we do) that a cup of tea really does makes almost everything better?
Almost? I believe tea never lets you down! That’s why I’m so excited to bring the convenience of my Bliss range, where the tea is captured in the cup and each cup can be steeped up to three times, with three different flavours.
For instance my Lapsang Souchong – is a bold black tea with roasted, smoky flavor overtones.
My Oolong, of course, for all the wonders, I’ve mentioned before.
And lastly my Green Tea, which I’m really proud of. Have you ever had a really bitter green tea? Mine’s not like that because I worked really hard with top notch tea sommeliers to find a really high quality version which finishes beautifully – you can taste the love in it.
Tell us a bit about your book …
I wanted people to know about my journey. I recently went through a divorce and with my children all grown-up, I saw that I could no longer define myself as a wife and mother. I came to realise it was the simple habits and pleasures that sustained me through difficult times. The constant habit of tea drinking enhanced my wellbeing and maintained my equilibrium. The odd tea-cocktail helped too 😉 – and the recipes are in the book. When my dear friend Monika gave me the opportunity to buy her tea business, her retirement became my evolution! I gathered my ideas, recipes and anecdotes and started compiling my book to be released later this year. It will be called Happiness To A Tea, and I hope it becomes a joyful guide to brewing a tea-riffic life for all!