We chat with Sebastian Pole from Pukka Tea about blends, herbs and morning rituals.
Take us back to the beginning, how did Pukka Herbs begin?
What was your very first blend of tea? Pukka Tea began in my kitchen and a spare bedroom in Bristol in 2001 after I met my business partner Tim. Tim was a successful businessman, looking to step out of the corporate world to find a way to express his passion for nature and desire to contribute to a more positive world using his business skills. Meanwhile, I was on a mission to bring my knowledge of herbs and Ayurveda to the world. We were a perfect match.
After a degree in Hindi and Religious studies and some time travelling in India. I went back to college to study Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western herbal medicine. I then spent some time working on an organic herb farm in Somerset, learning the essential skills of growing herbs. I had also been teaching yoga classes every week as well as running my herbal practice. However, I knew that I couldn’t reach as many people as I wanted to from my one-to-one clinic so by the time I met Tim I was ready to create a business centred around mutual benefit, one where everyone who came into contact with it would profit: sensually, healthily, ecologically and socially. The first teas I blended in those early years were ‘love’ which is a blend of flowers, ‘detox’ a blend of seeds and our classics ‘relax’, ‘refresh’ and ‘revitalise’.
All of the herbs we use in our teas and wellbeing range are 100% certified organic. Even the string on our tea bags is organic.
We absolutely love your ethics at Pukka and know you only use organic herbs in your products, how does organic make such a big difference when it comes to tea?
All of the herbs we use in our teas and wellbeing range are 100% certified organic. Even the string on our tea bags is organic! In many ways, organic farming embodies the essence of Ayurveda – the ancient Indian philosophy that flows through the heart of Pukka. Like Ayurveda, organic wisdom centres on the wellbeing of the ‘whole’; it is a way of reconnecting people with the soil, the plants, and the planet – because they’re all equally dependent on one another for their health and happiness.
We believe organic farming is not only better for the environment and our health, but also for the welfare of animals and our planet. It’s also a guarantee that the herbs we use are the best they can be. Because organic farming simulates life in the ‘wild’ organic herbs generate much higher levels of protective compounds, making organic herbs more delicious and more powerful.
Tell us some simple ways that our readers can start to integrate herbs into their daily diet and routine?
In addition to cooking with herbs, drinking herbal tea is a great place to start! When Tim and I started Pukka, most of the herbal teas on the market tasted bland, never really living up to their promise. Thankfully today there is a far richer tapestry of teas – at Pukka we have 36 blends now.
There really is something for everyone – from the sweet to the soothing, the spicy to zesty, the warming to the cooling. I often wake up and have a cup of Revitalise or Three Ginger to kick start my morning, then end my day with Night Time or Three Chamomile, drinking plenty of other blends from uplifting greens to cooling mints in between, depending on my mood or how I feel.
How do you decide on a new blend of tea? And how do you find the perfect blend of herbs that will work together to tackle any ailments?
The perfect blend. It’s the herbsmith’s holy grail. It means ensuring that the herbs contain a vibrant presence of the life-force as reflected in the colourful smell, taste, look and feel of the herb coupled with appropriate levels of essential oils and other relevant compounds. We make sure that where appropriate our herbs meet the high standards of the pharmacopoeia (that’s a flash word for ‘medicinal grade’) that sets the bar for herb quality. We only use sustainably sourced, organically grown and fairly traded herbs in our teas.
Do you have a particular ritual when it comes to brewing, how would your perfect cup of tea be made?
For me, the length of the brew time is crucial to reach a perfect cup of herbal tea. Often I leave the bag in for 10 or 15 minutes before I drink it to ensure I get the maximum amount of goodness from the herbs. I like to use filtered water that is freshly boiled and drink it from a colourful cup. Seeing, smelling and tasting herbal tea awakens your senses and brings you into the present so that you see life afresh. What are your 3 morning rituals? My three morning rituals are: Washing, meditating, and – of course – some spicy herbal tea.
We love the new Pukka Planet; it’s a great platform for everyone to share their own health journey and stories with others. What was your inspiration for this?
Pukka Planet draws its inspiration from our mission: to connect as many people as possible to the power of herbs. So the web site is a celebration of everything great about people, plants and planet. I genuinely hope that people who visit the site are inspired to not only discover more about plants, but also themselves.
What’s next for you and for Pukka in 2016 and onwards?
It’s more of the same for both myself and Pukka: I want us to continue to bring the highest quality, organic herbs into as many people’s lives as possible. I want to do this in a way the benefits people, plants and planet. As well as some exciting new tea and supplement developments for 2016 (I’m sorry, we can’t give anything too much away at this stage!) we’re also launching an exciting new partnership with 1% for the Planet. 1% for the Planet is a global movement of companies donating at least 1% of their annual turnover to environmental organisations worldwide. I hope this inspires more companies in 2016 to do the same.
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