Meet Bethan, one of the founders of the amazing brand Hot tea mama, and what self care / mindfulness and the motherhood juggle look like for her…
HotTea Mama – Bethan
Tell us a bit about the link between tea and self care…
Tea can support self care in two different ways. Firstly, certain teas and herbs have been shown in small scale research to impact your body in a way that can help you relax, feel less anxiety and get improved sleep. A great example of this is lavender, which contains linalool. This is shown to help reduce anxiety and aid sleep, and is also shown to be much more effective when you drink it compared to smelling it. So it’s brilliant to have in a tea at night time to help you relax and take care of yourself. It’s a key ingredient in our Night Owl tea which I religiously have each night before bed.
But the truth is that simply making and drinking a cup of tea can have a huge psychological benefit for you as part of a self care routine. A hot cup of tea can boost your oxytocin levels and reduce cortisol – just by drinking it. It becomes a way to take a moment for yourself, as a simple, micro-moment of self care. Take a moment to focus on the warm cup in your hands, the steam on your face, the flavours and aroma – it can be a meditative practice to help you calm down in the face of a stressful situation, or relax after a hectic day.
So I would say to look at what is in your cup and make sure it has ingredients that can nourish you in the way you need, but also, just to make sure you take time for a cup of something warm, somewhere you feel safe and happy.
What does Mindfulness mean to you?
For me, mindfulness is extremely important. I don’t practice meditation or daily affirmations, though I have in the past. But I still prioritise finding time to think through problems I have, as I know that I am an over-thinker and if I don’t give myself time to work through my thoughts, they will keep coming back to me and lead to anxious, stressed feelings.
I have found that 15-20 minutes of pilates or a short run, followed by having a drink and writing in a journal, is an incredibly effective way for me to take time for myself and manage my thoughts. I like to feel in control – to some degree – and combine movement with mindfulness. It certainly helps me clear my head and get to the bottom of what is bothering me.
What inspired you to launch your own business for mums?
HotTea Mama was very much inspired by my, and my friend Kates, experience of pregnancy and motherhood. I had been working for large UK tea companies for over 15 years when Kate had the idea to make teas specifically targeted at women’s wellness through pregnancy and motherhood, and it was the first time a tea related business idea made sense to me.
I realised that a lot of the herbal teas I was blending at work were unsafe for pregnancy as they contained liquorice which is highly dangerous if you are at risk of preeclampsia. Yet all our friends cut out caffeine when pregnant, without realising they were switching to something equally bad for them.
I have a degree in Tea Science alongside my career as a tea taster, I was the first non-Chinese person to get this from the University of Forestry and Agriculture in Fujian. And I loved using my biochemistry knowledge to create delicious blends that would benefit women functionally with the problems we faced – morning sickness, exhaustion, breastfeeding, PMS and perimenopause.
I had spent 15 years working at other tea companies where developing one ‘women’s blend’ was considered revolutionary and more than enough to meet the needs of women within tea. And once I became pregnant it seemed so ridiculous – my body changed so much from my 20s to late 30s, and I looked to tea to support me along with this, but I needed different teas at different times. So that’s what we wanted HotTea Mama to do.
To have the right blend for you, when you really need – whether it’s to help reduce PMS, ease morning sickness, prepare for labour, get a good night’s sleep, stay awake after a 3am start, or cope with hot flushes and anxiety through menopause.
We based the entire range on our own lives and the lives of others we knew, and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved – I regularly cry reading reviews and notes from women who’ve benefited from the teas.
How do you Juggle life as a small business owner and as a mother?
Not always very well! I work around school hours which is brilliant but means that I only have limited hours in the day to work, so end up working in the evenings too. I try not to mix work and my time with the kids – keeping them separate so that I can enjoy my time with them, and focus properly on them. But I learnt this the hard way after a long time of trying to do both and feeling like a failure on all fronts! Now I accept losing some of my evening to work, in order to spend time with them in the afternoons and to have long family meals.
Especially as we are now growing a small team (I have 2 part time colleagues who are amazing!), I want to ensure I don’t let them or my kids down. So far we’re a team of mothers, and even our warehouse is female owned and managed, so flexible working hours are the norm, and I’m determined that this will continue as we grow.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
‘Nothing comes out of nothing, but something always comes out of something’. I try to remember this whenever I’m scared to take a leap or do something. It’s very easy not to do things because they seem scary, but the truth is, even if you do something and it’s a ‘failure’ compared to what you expected, you will still learn something and have some benefits. So just do it!