When I attended Gathered SA last month, I had the opportunity to meet with Belinda Hellyer, who is a ray of sunshine and her passion for her teas resonates through the flavours of her cleverly crafted brews with equally delightful names that inspire those flavours. Combining her passion for the arts with her love for creating 14 types of organic and vegan-friendly artisan loose-leaf tea blends and herbal/fruit tisanes, Belinda puts her signature spin onto traditional teas by carefully constructing each blend to suit different moods and emotions and add to those experiences.
I walked away with one of my favourite named-teas by Belinda – the Drama Queen blend (obviously!) – and I have been brewing the tea every other day since, mostly because I am constantly left mesmerized by the royal blue color of the tea. The taste of the peppermint helps me relax after a particularly long day, but when I can’t help but squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the tea, which not only changes the color to a moody purple, but simultaneously gives me a burst of energy to feel positive and re-energized by the subtle change in its flavour.
In anticipation of her participation in the upcoming Bowerbird Market (May 3 – 5), I was able to conduct an e-interview with Belinda about her business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Belinda?
Belinda: I am a tea lady – a Certified Tea Blender and almost Certified Tea Master (with Australian Tea Masters) – with a background in the arts as a performer, producer and arts manager. I live in Alberton with my husband Stephen and our two little curly-haired boys Archie and Luca. I drink tea all day, everyday and in my dreams!
Tema: What inspired you to start up a business on tea in particular?
Belinda: I’ve loved tea forever and I always knew that I would work with it in some way. I was inspired by the fact that blending tea is a really creative thing to do and that there are so many beautiful gifts from nature to work with and many possible ways to combine ingredients to create a gorgeous brew. I love that teas and tisanes are nourishing and healthy and that the small ritual of making and enjoying a pot of tea is meditative. I wanted to create something beautiful with my range to give people a simple but special pleasure to look forward to in their otherwise busy day. When I decided to create a range of blends, I knew I needed a point of difference in the market, as there are so many wonderful boutique tea companies out there. It occurred to me that I could combine my love for tea with my love for “the arts”. My range is “inspired by the arts” and “made with jazz hands”. I like to think of my tea blends as ‘Art You Can Drink’.
Tema: How do you decide on the different blends of tea that you offer through your business?
Belinda: Whilst working in the arts industry, I had always taken a creative approach to my work – armed with a pot of tea by my side. Tea was my way to focus and connect with my flow and intuition. When I started Brewed By Belinda, I wanted to create a range of teas that may be useful for other people looking to connect with their creativity. Some of my blends have been specifically created to support the mind, body, and soul in the creative and artistic process. With others, I have put an arty spin on favourite traditional brews. I wanted to create a range that offered people the more traditional blends that they know and love (english Breakfast, Earl Grey, Peppermint etc), but also showcase some more creative and intuitively-inspired blends. I used various scenarios of my experiences of working in the arts as the inspiration point for my blends.
For example, I used to get frightfully nervous and anxious before I performed, so I created a blend called Opening Night Nerves. It is a blend of herbs and petals that may relax and soothe the tummy and relieve tension. It is a balanced caffeine-free tisane that calms and centres you – like a few deep breaths. It is a best seller!
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Belinda: Here is a video clip that I made recently to give people an insight into my creative process and my love for tea: https://vimeo.com/315166276
I do tend to light some candles in my tea room and make myself a beautiful cup of tea to get into my ‘flow’. I will often allow an idea for a blend to brew in my mind for a while, before I begin to create it – I let it sit, refresh my memory about the benefits of various herbs, petals, peels etc. and then, when I get the impulse, I start to create the blend. I will draw on all of my knowledge of the ingredients, the various flavour profiles, the way they work together etc. but most of all, I use my intuition. Then I ‘cup’ the blend and tweak it as needed. I keep a record of my blends, a recipe book if you like.
Tema: What are some popular teas that your customers are currently loving?Belinda: My new colour-changing blend Drama Queen is selling really well. It contains Butterfly Pea Flowers that are native to South-East Asia. They have a natural blue dye that makes the tea brew up a beautiful blue colour. When you add lemon juice (change the PH), it turns lilac purple. It is very fun! It is a minty citrus blend with an exotic floral note. I created it with Mad March time in mind. I created it with artists and audiences in mind, as it is a brew designed to energize and cleanse – both things are needed to get through the long weeks of Adelaide Fringe, WOMAD and the Adelaide Festival.
My Standing Ovation blend – premium white tea with red rose petals – is an absolute best seller and it has won both a gold and silver medal at the Golden Leaf Awards.
My Creativitea blend – an inspired herbal blend I created to help people to connect with their creative flow – has won a Gold and Bronze medal at the Golden Leaf Awards and also sells like hot cakes.
Tema: What are some teas that you’d highly recommend to tea drinkers?
Belinda: I recommend them all! It is so hard to choose. It all comes down to personal preference.
- If you are trying to move away from coffee but like a depth and strength, I would suggest my ‘Warm Up’ black tea from the Assam region in India. It is smooth and malty.
- If you are interested in getting a fix of antioxidants I would choose a blend like my 5-Minute Call that has a beautiful Nepalese green tea as the base or my Standing Ovation – white tea is the least processed and know to have high levels of antioxidants.
For a fun and colourful tisane, I would try my Drama Queen colour-changing blend or my Jazz Hands berry based tisane that blushes up a gorgeous red colour.
- For a deeper and more restful sleep, my Blackout tisane is the best – a blend of sedative herbs and petals. Very popular.
- To warm your cockles this winter, my Chookas Chai (traditional masala chai on a black tea base) and my Stage Kiss Chai (caffeine free masala Chai on a Honeybush base) are warming and aromatic. Great for digestion too.
- My Earl Grey blend Director’s Notes is fragrant and uplifting and I have a number of addicted customers, including my husband. Creativitea is a unique blend – the base is Honeybush, which is from South Africa. I wanted to create a blend to help people connect with their creative flow. Creativitea includes an ancient herb called Gotu Kola – the monks used to use it to still the body and mind for meditation. The blend also has orange peel.
Tema: What do you think helps your teas stand out from the rest?
Belinda: Oh, I would say the arts connection is unique and my packaging is very special – elegant, art deco, and luxurious. I also think that because there is a real person behind the brand with an authentic story connecting the arts and tea. It is great to have won some awards for my blends and my packaging – this gives customers a level of confidence. I also only use 100% premium organic ingredients and I hand-blend and hand-package and hand-label everything with my genuine “jazz hands”.
Tema: What does “the perfect cup of tea” look like to you?
Belinda: The perfect cup of tea is… the one I feel like (at that time) in my favourite cup (at that time). I am forever trying new teas and am drawn to different types at different times. They are all perfect (as far as I am concerned) as they are made with attention and love.
Tema: How did you get involved with Gathered SA?
Belinda: I’ve wanted to do the Gathered market for a long time but could not get dates to line up until now. I’m excited to be showcased alongside a bunch of amazing South Australian makers. I love doing tea tastings and meeting my customers face to face and talking endlessly about tea.
Tema: Are there any other markets / events that you will be making an appearance at?
Belinda: Yes – I will be at Bowerbird – 3-5 May and then I will be at ‘A Boutique Life’ in Clare on Sunday 23rd of June.
Tema: How did you get involved with Bowerbird?
Belinda: I have visited Bowerbird as a for many years as a shopper and have always loved the event. I applied to be part of the November event in 2018 and I was successful, so I made my Bowerbird debut last last year which was huge and exciting! I am really looking forward to returning to Bowerbird in May and I have been madly blending and packaging up lots of tea with my niece Kelsey. I imagine there will be a great turnout this May, given that Mothers Day is around the corner! The line-up of designers and makers is incredible and I am sure there will be amazing offerings. It is coming into perfect tea weather, so I hope that lots of mums receive my teas as a gift! I’ll have some special gift options available during this Market, so keep an eye out!
Belinda: There is such a lovely community of creators and makers in Adelaide. I really love the connections that I have made / am making with all of the other small business owners and I feel really supported. I’ve been involved in a few lovely collaborations, made some lovely friends, and I love to support others who are following “the pull” to make and create beautiful things. I love my customers – new and old – who support local, take a chance on something new and appreciate the time, care and love taken to create handmade items.
Tema: What do you find challenging about being a small scale business in Adelaide?
Belinda: It takes time and patience for things to build. Being a mostly one-woman show, juggling motherhood and my business, I struggle to make the most of all the opportunities that come my way or that could be chased. But then again… my motto this year is ‘realistic evolution’ – I can only do so much and that is enough.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like us to know about you and your business?
Belinda: I offer workshops ‘Blend Your Own Tea’ and ‘Tea Tasting and Appreciation’ as well as create custom blends for individuals, businesses and organisations. It is so lovely to see so many people enjoying tea and trying new things.
If anyone would like to try my teas as a result of this interview, they can use the coupon code ‘tema’ to get 20% OFF their first online order – www.brewedbybelinda.com.au
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
With thanks to Jenna O’Dell from Gathered SA