When Naturopath and Herbalist Hannah McMenamin first started Forage + Bloom (nearly three years ago) she was keen to chat with someone in the hospitality industry who was on her wavelength. Hannah got in touch with Mike, Kōkako’s Managing Director, to ask if she could bounce a few ideas around with him. Mike gave just the right amount of encouragement to go for it and Kōkako café soon became one of the original stockists.
We asked Hannah a little about what has happened in the 3 years since then. Read all about it, below.
On a typical day what goes on at the Forage + Bloom headquarters?
So much goes on at Forage + Bloom HQ! My days are really varied, but guaranteed they are always fuelled by tea on tap and a good dose or two of coffee! I spend my time working on the day to day running of my business, responding to and working with my awesome customers, blending, packing and delivering tea and meeting with people to give tea tastings and staff trainings for new and existing customers.
I’m hungry for knowledge and love learning more about business and being an entrepreneur in general, so I study different topics and challenges as and when they come up for me in my own business. I’m super creative so I always have a range of burning ideas and projects on the go too! I love when I get the chance to talk about herbs and health with people as that is the core of what I do.
What’s your favourite part about working with (delicious!) tea?
I love so many different aspects of working with tea! The reason I became a Herbalist is because I love working with plants and people. Forage + Bloom allows me to connect the two in a way that is delicious, fun and makes people feel good! The real magic for me is in the formulating – thinking of an action I want to apply to the body, thinking of which herbs in which ratios work well to achieve that action, and blending them together to create a healthy and tasty beverage that people will enjoy and feel good from drinking! I love the brewing side of things too, the alchemy, there are so many different ways to extract the goodness from plants and I have fun playing around with that. All in all, being able to connect with people and share quality herbs is such an awesome feeling.
How did Forage and Bloom come about?
I worked for many years in cafés, bars and restaurants in different parts of the world and it was working very closely with coffee in Melbourne that sparked my passion for brewing plants. Being a coffee geek is ultimately what led me to study herbal medicine.
I’m pretty impressed by the effects of herbal medicine and the science behind it all, and I became curious as to how I could make it easier for people to get the benefits of herbs in their daily life without it being taboo or hard or weird. Using quality, organic, dried medicinal herbs to do this makes perfect sense to me.
I love the simplicity of the herbal infusion, it’s really so effective for how simple it is. I think people are becoming more interested in feeling well and vibrant, and taking responsibility for their own health. Drinking medicinal herb tea is a really effective way to do this naturally - herb infused hydration is so easy and so good for us!
Can you give us some insight into how your blends come about?
I originally designed the existing range to fit in with what people might expect from a café, ie green tea, peppermint tea, chamomile, berry, ginger. I used these recognisable flavors as a base and built a therapeutic blend around each, that has a specific and positive effect in the body. For example, Repose is Chamomile, Lemon balm, Rooibos and Rose petals. It is calming, floral and naturally sweet and therapeutically is soothing to the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system – great for anybody who gets an upset tummy when they’re feeling stressed. Each of the blends has quite a unique story behind them. Taste, therapeutics, brewing and serving are all things I think about when designing a tea blend. The possibilities are of course endless, and I love that about herbs.
What’s your favourite spot to enjoy a cup of tea?
I’m a big nature lover. Living in Titirangi, I love that I step out my back door into a beautiful piece of native bush. Sitting on my deck under the Kawakawa and Nikau trees with the dappled afternoon light is such a lovely place to enjoy a pot of tea and soak up the goodness of nature.
Is there anything you can share about Forage and Bloom, or your process, that might surprise your customers (and us!)?
It might surprise people to hear that you can really get some significant and positive health benefits from drinking Forage + Bloom teas regularly. Herbal infusions are a really effective way to take herbs. In herbal medicine, each herb has what we call a ‘therapeutic margin’ which indicates how much herb needs to be used for it to have a significant effect in the body. I like using good strong therapeutic doses of each herb to get good results. Every single herb that I use in my blends is there for a specific reason, and the hydration helps with vitality too! For those that are interested in the herbal side of things, I’ve written detailed info on each of the herbs and their actions in the ‘Herb Profiles’ section of forageandbloom.co.nz (here’s the link for the Chamomile Profile). For those that aren’t so interested in the health effects, it’s no problem, you’ve still got yourself a yummy cup of tea.
What are you looking forward to about this coming summer?
Summer!! I’m looking forward to more warmth and light in the air! I love all seasons actually, but summer is always so much fun. I love that summer brings my family and friends together, spending time relaxing and celebrating over Christmas and New Years is always a highlight. Living by the beach and the Waitakere ranges is awesome - a dip in the sea and a walk in the forest is never too far away. I’m looking forward to enjoying plenty of live music over the festival season, and of course, cooling down with lots of iced tea!
Do you have a favourite tea pot and/or mug?
This very much depends on what I’m brewing and for what occasion. The serving of tea plays such a large part in the whole experience. I personally really like small shots of tea as opposed to a mug. In fact, I never drink tea out of a mug. It’s always a shot glass or glass teacup. My regular go-to is the Hario Tea Press and a 70ml shot glass. I also love the Menu Kettle Teapot and the Kinto glass teacups. I love using glass equipment to brew and serve my teas so I can see the herbs and the infusion as it develops, it’s so pretty.
Describe your favourite place in the world.
I love to travel, I’ve seen some incredible places in the world, picking a favourite feels so hard! A place where I always feel at home, where I can reflect, feel at peace and unplug is the ocean. A windy walk is so revitalizing, and the vast size of the ocean always has a way of giving me perspective. Top three spots where I’ve spent a lot of time are Piha, Raglan and Sardinia.
and lastly, if you aren’t having tea - how do you have your coffee?
Long black and or espresso please.