But First…Tea Shop

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Wholesome and handmade, Tea Shop’s loose-leaf tea prioritises quality over convenience with over two decades of blending experience, as Georgia Beard discovers.

Bones aching and energy draining after a trek five-and-a-half thousand feet into the Himalayas, Kellie Marshall found refuge from her arduous tea trail in a village perched on the mountainside. 

Nepali locals welcomed Kellie and her fellow trekkers into a traditional teahouse, where historic blends of chai are brewed over hot coals. 

As the troupe warmed their hands and bellies with milky, spice-infused tea, they spent the evening immersing themselves in the rural culture and connecting with each other. 

The handmade authenticity of this experience left an imprint on Kellie’s heart. Twenty years later, it would shape the philosophy behind her own organic tea range in Australia.  

Burnt out from the corporate world, Kellie listened to her inner tea-lover and founded Tea Shop in Byron Bay, going to market with three organic loose-leaf blends.

Robust which blends Assam, English Breakfast and Australian black tea; Lemon Myrtle Green combining native lemon myrtle, chamomile and green tea leaves with a hint of ginger; and Mountain Chai featuring a traditional mix of exotic herbs, spices and black tea – a Masala Chai recipe Kellie mastered in one of the Himalayan teahouses.  

“My mum and I created the recipes together,” Kellie said. 

“There’s reason and purpose behind each blend, from health & wellness to food miles and sourcing locally grown where possible – and of course, quality and flavour.”

“It isn’t mass-produced, repackaged teas that you buy off a shelf somewhere. We make it from scratch with 25 herbs and spices that we roast and blend into our loose leaf range.”

As locals fell in love and asked for new blends, Kellie introduced Orange Rooibos, a caffeine-free tisane subtly complemented with organic orange peel and roasted cinnamon; and Peppermint, blending caffeine-free, organic peppermint, fennel and dandelion.

Based in Noosa for the past several years, Tea Shop offers 11 sustainably sourced blends, hand-crafted in small batches and packaged in compostable and biodegradable cylinders. 

“We are really conscious of our environmental footprint,” Kellie said.

“From day one, Tea Shop was about creating something that was organic, sustainable, full of flavour and good for the environment.”

To reach these objectives, she knew tea bags could never be part of her product range. Like much of our convenient, mass-produced packaging, they jeopardise our health and the ecosystem. 

Often whitened with chlorine bleach, paper tea bags can contain epichlorohydrin or polypropylene, plastic sealants preventing the paper from dissolving in hot water. 

This concoction of chemicals leaches into a cup of tea, altering the pure flavour of the leaves and potentially increasing our risk of cancer.

What about the pyramid-shaped tea bags served at contemporary cafés? 

In 2019, researchers at McGill University collected these tea bags, which contain nylon and polyethylene terephthalate and discovered that when steeped at brewing temperature, a single bag released approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into the cup. 

These teabags are neither recyclable nor compostable; and after contaminating ourselves, we send them into landfill where they contaminate the environment.

Opting for premium grades, Kellie sources herbs, spices and tea leaves from plantations in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Japan, Egypt and Nepal. 

She then roasts, blends and packages the loose leaf for a crisp and sense-stirring depth of flavour.

“We know where our ingredients come from, and we know that what we purchase contributes back to those plantations and supports local communities in health, infrastructure projects and schooling,” she said. 

This season, Kellie will be introducing two new blends to her caffeine-free herbal infusion range. Honeybush Chai blends a naturally sweet and spicy chai with honeybush leaves; while Liquorice Mint combines a refreshingly mint-flavoured herbal blend with the naturally sweet aftertaste of liquorice root. 

Kellie’s loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions invite us to invest more time and care into the brewing process, giving us a moment to pause amid life’s mad scramble and ground ourselves. 

“You’ve got to make time for yourself and enjoy the simple things,” she said.

“First thing of a morning, I make my strong black Robust blend in my cast-iron teapot, and I sit down and enjoy my first pour. Throughout the day, I’ll use a simple tea stick infuser for a caffeine-free option.” 

Every time she brews a cup of tea, Kellie captures that delicious tranquillity she discovered on the slopes of the Nepalese mountains. 

It’s an experience we can all savour with just a teacup, a handful of tea leaves and the willingness to rest and reset. 

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