All About Me

I have lots to say and many people have asked - who is behind China's Secret Teas? So this seems like a good way of marrying the two. Enjoy!

Friday, July 07, 2006

My little teashop

To continue the story of why I started up in tea, specialising in flowering teas...

I actually wanted to open a little zen teashop (expanding eventually to a chain). A nice airy light environment where people can just come and be in touch with themselves. It would be serene and we can just take time out to commune with each other. An extensive selection of teas would be offered with little Chinese tidbits as accompaniment.
However, starting that up would involve too much capital so I decided to start off with something less ambitious. If you are ever in San Francisco, though, they have 3 terrific teahouses that have the same vision.

Don't you think that we rush around too much? We plonk a tea bag into a mug and dash back to the PC. How often do we allow ourselves to just sit, relax & get in touch with ourselves? When was the last time we sat down and really connected with our friends/family?

I'm hoping that people would slow down, take time out to smell the roses and enjoy each other's company. The visual beauty of the flower teas and the aroma would hopefully set the scene.

Do you feel the same way I do about us rushing about too much?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My first encounter with flower teas

So why did I start up in business? Why green teas? How could I possibly hope to compete with the likes of Twinnings?

The story begins about 4 years ago, on a trip back to Singapore to visit my family (I have about 9 uncles & aunts on my mother's side alone). My uncle having just got back from a business trip to China, was really excited about some tea he wanted to show us. We all pooh-poohed it 'hey, we are Chinese, we know all about teas'.

Little did I know what a treat I was in for....After dinner, a tray with Chinese tea pot and little cups was (rather ceremoniously) brought out. A little walnut sized ball placed in the tea pot, hot water added (not boiling as that scalds the tea) and before you know it, it had unfurled to reveal a flower on the inside!

Now I thought to myself - this is great and would make a great present. I can't believe I lived to the age of 27 and didn't even know this existed. What a well kept secret!

Fast forward to the present. Remember a period a few months ago, where there was a news item almost every day about the benefits of drinking green tea.

Now, I drink lots of the stuff (less caffeine, thirst quenching). However, when I came over to the UK, I just could not find good quality green tea! The tea bag stuff sold in normal supermarkets is pretty rough and tasteless. Bought some Japanese stuff but it was bitter and very expensive. The only remotely authentic Chinese green tea I could find was in Chinatown.

I thought 'if I have this need, then there must be others out there who also want good quality green tea!' Plus I hadn't seen these flower teas anywhere either. The seed was thus planted.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

An Avid Reader

Does Hazel do anything else besides watching TV?
Where does she find the time to watch ALL that TV plus set up her gift/tea business China's Secret (

Well, I also read a lot. So much so that DH (dear husband) started complaining about all these books that clutter up the house. We have lots of bookshelves ;-)
After pretty much single-handedly boosting Amazon's shareprice/sales revenue, I discovered that I could regain some monies by selling the books through the same platform. As I take very good care of the books they remain in a pristine condition.

My sister and I have been known to ban friends from borrowing our books due to their careless treatment of them! We were in tears when my good friend (despite warnings!) completely thrased our copy of Lord of the Rings. This is after I carefully finished the omnibus with only one crease in the spine. OK, enough of my OCD behaviour.

Now I have discovered an even better system of getting rid of those books that remain unsold through Amazon (mostly bestsellers and new releases sell quickly). Anything to please DH! I now swap books through Readitswapit.

Fantastic system that allows you to list all the books that you don't want anymore. When people want a book of yours, you get notification and can then view their book list. If you see a book you want to read, you agree to the swap! Both parties then post their books with only P&P incurred. What a cheap way of getting new books!

In the first 2 months of my discovery, I realised that I spent about 100 pounds at the post office! Anyhow, I have discovered and read the entire works of 2 new crime authors (Harlen Coben & Michael Connelly) through swapping. I have encouraged the website owners to extend the system to CDs and DVDs as well!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

World Cup Lesson

No, it's not a post about the off-side rule ;-)

I can't seem to watch the final stage matches of World Cup 2006 without my laptop to distract see, I get really quite worked up when I watch the games.

I get so angry when cheating behaviour goes unpunished and even gets rewarded! I can now understand why referees get hate mail. So what can I do as a follower/supporter of the Beautiful Game? I feel so helpless.
I want to write to FIFA to complain about the inconsistent behaviour by their referees. The system just doesn't appear to work.

But, do they even care that my enjoyment of the game is disrupted by the constant diving/falling behaviour of certain players in certain teams? Why haven't FIFA cracked down on what British commentators very nicely call - footballers' antics. I call it cheating!

Is it just a strategy adopted to frustrate and disrupt the game and concentration of the opposing team? Should we just live with it?

When I try to understand why I get so riled up, I realise that I am not actually angry about the football injustices but with life itself.

Life can be unfair and sometimes we can't do a single thing about it.

I want life to be fair, people to just be decent to one another. I know this is idealistic (some would say naive) but most times I delude myself into believing that 'life is fair'. Watching football just brings it all home though - life like football can be unfair. Talented footballers who don't have to cheat do so anyway, just to get an edge over their opponents. The manifestation of ugly human nature.

Or am I just over-analysing things? ;-)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Is that an American accent?

So where am I from?

Good question. Grew up in Singapore, spent young adulthood in Sydney, Australia (Eastern suburbs) and about 6 years in the UK. So don't really know where I am from anymore.

Aussies can still hear the Aussie in me. I also get asked 'Are you an American?' quite a bit. This is probably due to the fact that I watch A LOT of TV!

I am currently watching:
Stargate SG1, Law & Order (including all the spin-offs), CSI, House, NCIS, Without a Trace, ER, Chicago Hope, Roswell, Buffy, Angel, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, LOST, Desperate Housewives, Entourage, My Name is Earl.

Shows I have pretty much seen every episode of:
Seinfeld - was gutted when tickets to his farewell Aussie tour sold out in 5 mins!
Sex & the City - own entire series on DVD!

Grew up watching:
Star Trek (I love Spock!), Growing Pains, Family Ties (remember the young Michael J. Fox?), Cosby Show, LA Law, Happy Days, Smurfs (I love the little blue folk!).

Let's just say that I'm contemplating cancelling my subscription to Sky coz increasingly, despite the over 900 channels that we have, there isn't a program that we haven't seen at least once. Some episodes of the Simpsons we have seen at least 3 times! Sad.

Anyone else have the same experience? What are your favourite American TV shows? Does anyone watch as much TV as I?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Three Characteristics

How would you describe yourself in 3 Words/Characteristics?

This is my favourite getting-to-know-you question. As my French in-laws, friends and dinner party guests can attest! So be warned ;-)Most times people don't remember to turn the tables & to ask me to answer it myself....

However, to break the ice, here goes:

The 3 characteristics that best sum Hazel up:


Now my next favourite question (for those closer to me) is:
What are your top 3 positive characteristics?
What are your top 3 negative characteristics?

Could that be why no one comes to my dinner parties anymore?

I don't mean to be intrusive but am just naturally curious and interested in people. In Australia (I lived for 9 years in Sydney) people tend to be more open and since coming to England (have lived here for the past 6 years) I am learning to tone it down so as to not offend.

Anyhow, what is your favourite getting-to-know-you question?