I’m falling in love again…and this time, it’s with tea. For the last few years, I have been obsessing about coffee. Of course that will continue, but lately, tea has been presenting itself to me in different ways. I’m remembering how much I love it. It’s about the rituals, from the Japanese tea ceremony to a person’s individual way of brewing, with milk, with sugar or without. My own Father has a daily routine of making Gong Fu Cha, a meticulous process using the finest Ti Kwan In Chinese tea leaves in traditional, tiny terracotta pots with separate smelling, sharing and drinking cups.
There is such beauty in tea, an older art form that remains. But tea itself has moved beyond that, though retaining its age-old traditions. A leader in this tea revolution has been T2, a tiny dream that began in Melbourne and has now gone global. It was recently bought by Unilever and for me, T2 is an example of what can happen when you are passionate about what you do. This story from the Financial Review tells you more about T2 Co-founder Maryanne Shearer and their beginning.
I remember T2 from when I lived in Sydney. I actually gave my clients a parting gift bag of T2 items when I left Sydney to come to Singapore. Their store in Chatswood was lush, eclectic and full of everything tea related. I was very excited to be invited to the launch of T2’s very first shop in Asia, right here in Singapore. At their launch, I tried a beautiful Chai tea with added ginger, then a special mix of teas from their range that was made up on the fly by their tea-maker. I also had their gorgeous Singapore Breakfast tea, a blend created specially for us in Singapore that is inspired by the smells and flavours of kaya toast… utterly delicious.
We were thrilled to be able to interview Nicky Sparshott, T2’s CEO and Unilever Vice President, who has lived in Singapore for seven years. She believes that
“There isn’t much in life that can’t be solved over a cup of (T2) tea!”.
Thank you, Nicky, for taking the time to talk to us.
T2 came from a very small beginning, it was just a dream, an idea and then a single shop in Melbourne. Now it is a global phenomenon. It’s such a testament that from very small ideas can come something hugely successful. Why do you think T2 has been such a success?
I think people just love our unique take on tea. They love the creativity and curious mindset that we apply to everything we do. We absolutely honour the history and rituals of tea, but we give them all a modern and unusual twist to keep them fresh and different. We want the entire T2 experience, from the teas and teawares to the customer experience in store to be totally immersive and compelling….and every time you come in you experience something you have not experienced before! Plus, our teas are just seriously delicious!
We’re very excited that Singapore is T2’s first opening in Asia. Why have you picked Singapore?
We are too! For us, Singapore made total sense as our debut into Asia. There is already such a melting pot of tea cultures in Singapore thanks to the multi-cultural influences in the country, from Chinese green teas to more colonial black teas to milky Teh Tarik and bubble tea. And Singaporean shoppers love next-level retail experiences, and value innovative, premium products as much as we do. We have so many plans for Singapore and all of Asia, so stay tuned!
While the coffee world has been abuzz with third wave coffee and artisanal brews, at home and in cafés, tea has always been a quiet achiever. Ever popular, in every age group, but without all the hype. Do you feel like tea is about to come to the fore of its own “wave” or revival?
Tea holds as strong a presence in people’s kitchens as ever, but people are more and more curious about how they can experiment with tea and new ways of enjoying a cup. Tea is so wonderfully versatile; there’s endless things you can do to shake up your daily dose.
We believe that tea is the beverage of this generation – a super cool beverage that can be served hot, cold, milky or pure…. and can be blended with just about any ingredient for gorgeous conconctions that also make you feel good ! We’ve really spread the word on how to make iced tea, as well as matcha and chai, and made it super easy and accessible for people to enjoy a great cup of tea every day.
How has T2 revolutionised the way people drink tea?
Our tea blends really challenge the general stereotypes about the kinds of tea flavours out there. Our tea specialists have come up with some seriously incredible combinations, drawing inspiration from flavours like cakes and desserts to exotic fruits and even vegetables! We are only limited by our imagination…..and that has no limits!
Our teawares also show people that there’s so many ways to prepare and drink tea. Our stores are filled with everything from refined tea sets to brew-and-go flasks and genius iced tea jugs. We are all about making it easy for our customers to opt into a T2 lifestyle, whatever their life looks like.
Tell us about T2’s passion for growing a new generation of tea lovers.
Tea is our favourite thing to talk about, so creating a generation of tea lovers who get into tea as much as us just seemed like something we had to do! We love making connections and experiences with people centred around the art of tea. We want to bring together a group of advocates bound by their love of tea done differently.
Who do you think the new generation of tea devotees would be?
Our tea lovers are passionate, creative, curious and always up for experimenting and trying our latest creations. They seek next-level quality, innovative products and a brand that will go above and beyond to share with them an incredible experience. They are you, they are me….they are anyone that loves tea and all that a simple cup can bring to make your day simply brighter.
What can we expect from T2 in Singapore, and in Asia?
We have so many exciting things in the works. We’re working on different collections exclusively for Singapore, and are putting together some amazing events and treats especially for you guys.
Have you tried Singapore Breakfast yet? We got so excited about Singapore that we created a tea blend especially for it! It tastes like kaya toast in a cup, and is so delicious. Everyone at our HQ office in Melbourne is obsessed! We hope Singaporeans will be too! Would love to see this brew in our top few teas globally…lets see if Singapore breakfast can give English Breakfast a run for its money!
T2 has an enormous range of teas. How does someone find THE one for them?
It’s always good (and so much fun!) to just head in-store and chat to a team member about what kinds of teas and flavours you like. They are always happy to brew up a few different flavours to try until you find the right one (or two!) for you. We always have lots of teas on our tastings bar too, so there’s always something to sip! And we also have an online Tea Finder…..to help you find that special blend that will become your favourite additional to every day!
What are your personal T2 flavours?
My day can’t start without a cup of Melbourne Breakfast or an Assam (with a dash of milk)….during the day I love to have a cup of Jade Mountain or a Gorgeous Geisha…..and I’m also currently obsessed with Matcha (especially Matcha Lattes!). It’s so hard to have favourites because there really is a tea for every mood and moment! One of the joys I have is that every day I can literally try a new tea to the repertoire. My own pantry is exploding with T2 – every time we launch something new, I bring it home for the family to enjoy as well!
What is T2 most passionate about?
We are passionate about bringing our take on tea to the world, and creating incredible experiences and connections with people all over the globe. We are passionate about tea….done differently!
You can visit the first T2 shop in Asia at:
313 Orchard Road
#01-20 Singapore 238895
T: +65 6835 7085
Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm
All images have been provided by T2 unless otherwise credited.
This article was originally published on www.vanillabeige.com and may have been edited for this platform.