Fine & Dandy Teas, New Zealand – Sarah Munro

This article was originally posted in The Hourglass Magazine on March 7th, 2016

WHO ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m based in Auckland, New Zealand and have a lovely (one and a half year old) son and a tea company that I run along with my partner Adam called Fine & Dandy. I’ve worked in sustainability and always been interested in where things are from, how they’re made and where they’ll end up. That’s something that’s really fuelled my interest in tea, but also I just love a really great cuppa.

How did you get into tea? 

When I was 24 I went off to India by myself and travelled for 9 months. I met lots of precious friends and had some amazing experiences, and I loved that amid all the chaos Indian people come together throughout the day over many cups of tea.

Later my partner Adam and I taught in Japan and really developed a taste for green tea. A shot of matcha before taking a frantic class of 6 years olds was our regular pick me up! Being in a school tea was such a part of our daily working life, prepared so beautifully and thoughtfully using quality leaves.

It was all pretty impressive, and we landed back in Auckland when the specialty coffee scene was really taking off, and no-one was thinking about good tea.

WHAT DO YOU DO? WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS ABOUT?

We travel to organic and fairtrade tea farms, build relationships with our growers and import quality loose tea with beautiful provenance. This makes life and business so much more exciting than it would be if we just picked a few blends out of the catalogues of the big European tea brokers, and it means we can get our hands on really carefully produced fresh tea. We launched our company brewing hot cups of tea at our Farmers Market Brew Bar and that’s been a great way to share the story of the leaves and some tips on brewing as well.

We started the business while I was on maternity leave less than a year ago after an extensive search to find great suppliers that we were proud to work with. It’s incredible to think it’s become my full time job and Adam has left his marketing job and jumped onboard as well, and we are pretty excited about how things are going.

WHERE DO YOU FEEL TEA FITS IN THE FUTURE? 

There’s so much exciting stuff happening with tea right now. What we are seeing is this massive growing interest in quality and provenance- it’s very in line with the third wave coffee movement and bean to bar chocolate. Sometimes it does feel like we’ve been kept in the dark for a very long time about what quality tea actually is, so there’s certainly some work to be done to move things on from the world of processed tea-bags and flavoured blends.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL STOPS PEOPLE DRINKING TEA OR LOOSE LEAF TEAS?

This is a great question and something we contemplate a lot! When it comes to this ancient beverage the marketing and communication around tea is often so complicated, when what we really need to be doing in the industry is making great tea more accessible.

Our mantra is to keep things simple, beautiful and accessible.  For example we are passionate about purchasing tea based on it’s origin, but we tend to relate information about our actual growers rather than the specific growing regions which makes it much easier for people to relate.

If you look to the coffee industry for inspiration, they’ve put loads of energy into educating consumers with beautiful simple design and easy to understand information. Let’s do more of that!

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