Anne-Carole is the founder of The Tea Sommelier, a business in Singapore created to educate and inspire respect for the Art of Tea. After working in Finance for a decade, she realized she wanted more out of her life. In her search, she came across a shop in Shanghai where she experienced a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, a moment marked as the catalyst for her journey with tea.
For her, the entire process of preparing, tasting, and sharing tea is akin to the creation of a new moment in time, like a haven of serenity and deep connection. It was through tea that she found her sense of purpose, and it is through tea that she seeks to make a difference.
We first connected with Anne-Carole when she wrote in to us about The Tea Sommelier. She shared about how her approach with tea is always grounded in the values of Dao and the balance of the elements. In a matter of timing and purpose coming together, this happened as we were preparing for the launch of our IChing collection. IChing was an ancient divination text used in Daoism, and the motif in this collection is a reinterpretation of the Fire and Water sequence.
Remarked by the parallels between our collection and her business, we saw a confluence of opportunity and intention for us to collaborate. Over a cup of tea, and many more after, we sat with Anne-Carole to learn of her journey.
How did you go from working 10 years in finance to where you are now? How do the dots connect?
I was working in Finance for almost a decade, and many things aligned for me to realize that I wanted more out of my life. I wanted to spend my life dedicated to better values, to things that bring me joy.
I spent a year in NUS learning Mandarin, and I fell in love with the Chinese culture. Afterwards, I took a trip to Shanghai, and on one of those days I came across a shop where I experienced a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. The entire moment felt like an epiphany – once I took that sip of tea, I knew in my gut that everything finally is coming together. This was the right time, the right place, and this was the right passion for me to pursue.
IT WAS THROUGH TEA, THAT I FOUND MYSELF AGAIN.
I stayed in Shanghai longer than I initially intended to learn from the tea master and took my time to learn all I could about tea. To understand the philosophy of Dao and how it ties in with the Art of Tea, to grasp the serving process, and the beautiful culture behind such a refined tradition. It was through tea, that I found myself again and in creating The Tea Sommelier, I wanted to share with others this same serenity.
How do the Dao values and the Art of Tea come together?
Daoism is this idea of unity, what flows through you goes through everything else. Everything is interrelated, and this oneness exists within the Art of Tea and its elements. I was first introduced to these values over a cup of tea in Shanghai. With every sip, I felt for myself what The Art of Tea is, there is a relational balance between the elements: water, earth, fire, air, and wood.
My tea master in Shanghai shared with me that the values of tea goes beyond a belief, it is who you are, and how you live. The posture we hold as we share a cup of tea, can also be carried into our daily lives.
SUSTAINABLE TEA REQUIRES A CERTAIN PRICE AND EFFORT, AND PEOPLE AWARE OF THE COST HAVE TO BE READY TO RECEIVE IT TO SUSTAIN ITS PRODUCTION.
You mentioned that you created The Tea Sommelier with the intention to promote sustainable tea, how has that process been?
It is difficult to find tea that is 100% sustainable, the best way that I know how to approach it is to find small batches of producers. What I often do, is travel to China to visit the plantations, and talk to the producers. There is value in seeing the process firsthand and learning more about their intentions in their production.
I think the greatest challenge is to get people to understand the sustainability of tea while creating an opportunity for them to enjoy it. Sustainable tea requires a certain price and effort, and people aware of the cost have to be ready to receive it to sustain its production.
In collaboration with The Tea Sommelier, we are gifting the first 50 online orders of the IChing collection an exclusive tea blend inspired by the Water and Fire print story. Shop the collection now.