Tea and the rituals surrounding it have held an important place in many cultures for centuries. From China to Japan to Britain, the warm, comforting elixir is celebrated and enjoyed the world over.

Tess Walker has been encouraging West Enders to discover and delight in the joys of tea, bringing her own brand of the beverage to the banks of the Brisbane River. Owner and founder of The West End Tea Co., tea is not a mere drink for Tess. “I love how it’s more than just a cup of tea; it inherently fosters conversations and bonds between people. Tea also never ceases to amaze me with the medicinal benefits that gently encourage good health and wellbeing.”

Eager to share this sense of connectedness with others, and determined to turn her passion into a business, Tess started her venture from home, with The West End Tea Co. a bit of a whimsical name.

“But when we opened our first little tea shop as permanent set up for the Boundary Street Markets, the name really rang true to us,” Tess says. A small business, the team includes Tess, her business partner Ben, and marketing and all round helper, Shelley.

Operating predominantly as a wholesaler, the company sells organic, loose leaf tea blends, which are all handpacked in house and sold to a number of cafes and retail stores in the local area. “Sometimes, new blends are a bit of an experiment, but for the most part we start with a base flavour and add different elements for either medicinal benefit or flavour profile. It’s a pretty fun process,” Tess says.

Asked which blend is her personal favourite, Tess struggles to come up with just one answer. “Ooh, it’s so hard to choose a favourite! Each blend has its place for different times of the day.” For sharing with friends, Tess loves a pot of chai, and ginger tisane is her favourite after dinner drink to aid digestion. “But I’m a true sucker for a big cup of earl grey and fresh lemon. Seriously, just can’t go wrong.”

And as the leaves begin to fall from the trees and the weather cools down, Tess admits she finds herself reaching for the teapot with increased frequency. Her go-to in autumn is something herbal that can be an all-day kind of cup. “Our vanilla rooibos is a solid choice for its robust nutty kind of flavour, while still being slightly sweet that helps to curb those afternoon cravings.”

Tea enthusiasts can sample The West End Tea Co. products at several cafes in the 4101, including Billykart Restaurant, Lokal & Co, Merriweather Café, Vegerama and Sol Breads. The blends can also be purchased from Nook and Billykart Provisions.

“I think that West Enders hold similar values that we do when it comes to creating genuine connections with each other and the community. That’s what we love about the area and are proud to associate ourselves with it.”