Love of tea culminates in Tea Festival
Katja Williams has always loved tea, but never imagined she would turn her passion into a thriving business.
Born and raised on a small hobby farm north of Orange, Katja grew up in a family a coffee drinkers.
“I knew from a young age coffee wasn’t something I enjoyed or liked and so I started drinking tea, it was probably Lipton’s teabag or something,” laughed Katja.
While studying Criminology at University in Armidale, Katja discovered a small tea shop and it was there she was exposed to the truly diverse world of tea.
“There is just so much depth of flavour, that you get from different loose-leaf types, whether it is different regions or different blends and that is where everything started,” she said.
“I used to buy little bit and pieces there and I started blending my own. Not having much money at uni, I basically lived off two-minute noodles and loose-leaf tea!”
After graduating, Katja took a job in Dubbo (where she met her now husband) and continued to blend teas as a hobby. But soon it became a whole lot more.
“switch hobbies or do something about it”
“About 18 months working in Juvenile Justice I decided it wasn’t for me,” she said. “I’d started blending again as a bit of a stress relief or to fill down time and my husband said, you're blending too much! We're not drinking it and you've gifted it to everybody we know. He said you either need to switch hobbies or do something about it. So, I left my job and went into tea full-time.”
That was five years ago now and Katja’s business, Tea Karts, has grown from simply selling at farmers’ markets to supplying wholesale to cafes throughout the Central West and selling online across Australia.
And over the weekend Katja hosted her first tea festival here in Orange, sharing her knowledge and love of tea at workshops and tastings.
“I like the stories behind other people’s tea companies, behind why they like what they like and the regions and the history and the story behind tea, So the tea festival I've created here is to dive deep into a lot of that. It’s more than just tasting tea, it is about sharing and experiencing tea together,” she said.
While the knowledge and appreciation of coffee has certainly grown in Australia over the last 20 years, Katja would like to see more people put aside their teabags and explore the rich and diverse flavours of quality loose-leaf tea.
“I think the knowledge, the history and the traditions behind tea drinking have been a little left by the wayside and I'd really like to bring that back too,” she said
“What I like about tea is everyone has their little quirks, their little traditions and it’s not quick. I think in our world we are getting faster and faster more distracted by our devices, but when you catch up with family or friends and someone has a pot of tea on the table you always take that little bit longer, it is always more relaxed.”