Despite having turned just a year old, Kindred Teas made waves at the Singapore Tea Festival with their stylish designs and delicious teas. Curious about this new and exciting tea brand, we spent some time chatting with its founder – Madelene Poon, about her background and thoughts about tea.
What were you doing before you started Kindred Teas?
I graduated from Singapore Management University with a degree in Business Management, majoring in Marketing and Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources. Right after graduation, I went on to help my mom with her HR business, which does recruitment and procurement for the oil and gas industry. However, I felt stifled doing something I didn’t particularly enjoy. My passion was always in F&B. Shortly after, I took a break from HR and moved to Paris to get my certificate in patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu, something which I’ve dreamt about since I was a child!
While in Paris, I started work on Kindred Teas. I felt that a tea brand would be a good start to my dream of opening a tea salon. To open an actual tea salon right away would be too much to handle, so I decided to start with a tea brand to get more experience in the industry. After returning from Paris in 2016, more work went into Kindred Teas and we officially launched the brand in August last year.
Was it scary starting Kindred Teas?
Definitely. Starting any type of business is scary! Surprisingly, the easiest part of it was coming up with the branding and the blends of teas because I had all these ideas in my head for the longest time. Initially, we faced a lot of difficulties finding reliable and responsible suppliers. For example, our first shipment of tin packaging was 40% damaged!
It’s also pretty difficult to build a customer base here in Singapore as we are, after all, mostly a coffee-drinking country. The people we are targeting know what good quality tea is and are willing to pay for it.
You mentioned that your first love is patisserie. But what sparked your love for tea?
Strangely, it was sparked by a documentary I stumbled upon on YouTube. I can’t recall the title, but it was about a man travelling around the world and explaining how tea is produced in different countries. I realised that all teas were from the same plant, and I was amazed at what the humble tea plant could do.
Since tea can also be paired with, and infused into, baked goods, I wanted to create a tea brand that I could use in my future tea salon to make tea-infused desserts. You could also say that baking involves a fine balance of flavours, which is similar to blending teas, so you can seek inspiration from many different places.
So how would you describe Kindred Teas?
I would say that Kindred Teas is all about building connections and making memories. It’s a very personal brand; a lot of the blends are inspired by people I’ve met, places I’ve been, and so on. For example, our Elder & Cream Black Tea was inspired by the time I spent in Austria for my overseas exchange. There was an elderflower drink that my friends and I used to have at a local pub, and it was so tasty and unique that I wanted to share it with all our customers.
Given how closely Kindred Teas is tied to your experiences and memories, how has your personal values and style influenced the brand?
Kindred Teas’ branding is deeply rooted in the belief that tea is a social drink that can bring people together. I really wanted the phrase “let’s go grab some tea” to be as natural and common as the phrase ‘let’s go grab some coffee.” If you look at our logo, you’ll see that it features a pair of swallows, because they are never alone. In the same way, we try to develop personal relationships with our customers.
I feel our branding has succeeded because a lot of our teas are actually bought as gifts, to build and maintain relationships.
That’s so nice! Okay, last question – given your background in patisserie, what would you recommend to go with tea?
Before I started Kindred Teas, I worked with the amazing Chef Janice Wong for a short while and got the opportunity to work with chocolate. Although I got the chance to make all sorts of desserts, chocolate really stood out for me. Perhaps because of this, I like to pair chocolates with teas. Just like tea, different cocoa beans have different taste profiles, which give the pairing a layer of complexity.
For example, we have a Genmaicha Matcha-iri that would pair well with white chocolate. Matcha has a bitter note that contrasts very well with sweet, white chocolate. In fact, a green tea or matcha with white chocolate ganache is quite common in patisserie.
One of our favourites in the office is Blessings ($18 for 8 blooming teas), also a hot favourite online. This contains 4 different flavours – Gratitude (Silver needle green tea, jasmine, chrysanthemum, globe amaranth, lychee essence), Longevity (Silver needle green tea, globe amaranth, jasmine, marigold, peach essence), Harmony (Silver needle green tea, jasmine, jasmine essence), and Prosperity (Silver needle green tea, jasmine, lily, mango essence). These handmade green teas are delicious, and unfurl beautifully when put in hot water. Yum!
To add, their tea accessories are almost as delicious as their teas! Ensure the perfect cup of tea with this gold teaspoon.
For one week only, enjoy 10% off storewide with code “KIN10”. Valid until 28th October, 23:59. Not sure what to get? Kindred Teas is offering sample packs from as low as $6! Available at teapasar.com only.