Like most workplaces, we drink a ridiculous amount of coffee. We’d love to tell you exactly how many coffees we consume in any given day, but to be honest we’re too embarrassed to disclose the exact figure. Just trust us when we say, it’s a lot. Well actually, it’s usually a lot. Recently something has changed and we’ve found ourselves swapping the bean for the leaf and in place of the latte, drinking copious cups of tea.
There’s only one person responsible for this shift and she goes by the name of Sarah de Witt.
Sarah is many things: a traveller, an entrepreneur, a psychology graduate, a lover of all things French, and a trained perfume nose. Yep, you read that last one right. Sarah’s nose is her ‘secret weapon’ and is the reason behind why she is one of the best tea sommeliers around town.
Sarah has used this talent to build two successful businesses. Her first was Impala and Peacock, a specialty organic loose leaf tea label out of Brunswick, Melbourne. And most recently she’s join forces with French trained Pastry Chef Jess Hillbrick to open Mary Eats Cake, a Brunswick tea house celebrating all things High Tea.
When we caught up with Sarah a couple of weeks back, we had an interesting chat about tea practices and how tea can be used to boost productivity levels (or as we like to call it productiviTEA). This conversation became the catalyst for us trading the latte for the loose leaf, as we quickly learnt there is lot to be gained from drinking tea.
Sarah believes that an enemy to productivity is getting caught up in doing mindless tasks with no clear goals or structures. Tea therefore becomes an excuse to press pause, reassess and break a pattern of mindless thinking by bringing in sensory awareness and mindfulness.
‘There’s been many times where I’ve stood up to make myself a cup of tea, looked at what I was doing, questioned whether there was a better way to do it and then had that light bulb moment as I’m filling my [tea] pot’, says Sarah.
According to Sarah the best tea to drink during the 9-to-5 grind is Oolong; ‘A premium grade oolong will give you 15 infusions throughout the day and it’s interesting to see how the flavour profile changes from the first morning steep to the last one in the day. I like noticing the differences as I brew it throughout my day – again it allows me to connect with my senses and have a moment of awareness and respite. It’s also ridiculously healthy for gut health and cleansing properties.’
For Sarah tea is literally the thing that motivates her to be the most productive version of herself. She’s build her life and career around it.
‘I feel the playful, curious, creative part of my personality comes out when I’m working with tea and these are qualities I like to adapt to all areas of my life’, she says. ‘I think tea is fascinating from a historical, cultural, flavour profile and community perspective. Tea has such a rich history of starting wars, being used as a currency, a meditation beverage for monks, a caffeine boost for Samurais, central to High Tea celebrations, there’s just so much tradition, wisdom, and celebration in this leaf.’
She’s won us over. Since chatting with Sarah we’ve started using tea to take a step back from our work, reboot, indulge in a moment of mindfulness and through this process boosting our productivity during the working day. Cheers to that!