INTERVIEW: Natalie Mullin of ICED by Taste Tea Naturals

Bubbling over with energy and enthusiasm, Natalie Mullin injects such a good vibe into this very, very cool business: ICED by Taste Tea Naturals.

This is a dual enterprise with the vibrant food stall ICED selling bubble teas, jelly teas, iced tea and Taste Tea Naturals with the ‘Taste Antigua Pineapple Ginger Twist Tea’ tea bags to make your own at home.

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Natalie Mullin

My first impression is to be overwhelmingly inspired by a young lady who has the vison and drive to bring a fabulously fun product to the people of Antigua. Natalie moved to the island 4 years ago from home in Canada after falling in love not just with the country but also her Antiguan now-husband. She is full time busy with a weekday job teaching at St. Anthony’s Secondary School and the rest of the time launching her products, which is not always easy on a small tropical island!

It took just moments after meeting Natalie to be whisked along on her journey, not only to build a brand, but also to give back simultaneously by helping the kids of Adele School for Special Children. These are children that wouldn’t normally face a very bright future, but thanks to her creativity, Natalie is able to show them avenues to their own resourcefulness. The kids even get involved with taste testing to prepare the new flavours of tea.

As Natalie admits, most drinks in Antigua are sugary sweet, so her teas spiced up with the addition of fruit syrups and bubbles or jelly cubes on a hot, hot day (is there any other kind here?!)  really hit the mark.

For now the tea bags are available in the Britt Store at VC Bird International Airport and in the Island Gourmet Boutique in St. John’s. ICED has a Facebook page here so you can see where the stall will next be set up. Who doesn’t want a burst of Antiguan black pineapple blended with ginger, cardamom and cinnamon – iced and refreshing with passion fruit jellies or mango bubbles?

But I’ll let her tell you the rest.

– Tell me a little about your background and what has brought you to Antigua?

I first came to visit Antigua in 2009. My family’s friends live in Antigua and I came to visit them. It only took one week to fall in love with the island and I returned twice more for longer stays during which time I met my now husband Tarick who is from Antigua. I moved to Antigua and we’ve been happily married since 2013.

– How did Taste Tea Naturals evolve?

I first started off wanting to sell loose leaf bush teas that would appeal to visitors and tourists especially because of their health benefits. However I soon after learned that many other people on island were already doing something similar. So much for my original idea! While attending the ‘Things Antiguan and Barbudan National Expo’ in 2015, I got some great advice: Don’t enter business doing what everyone else is doing, you’ll never be at the top simply because you entered the market too late. Find a way to differentiate and bring something new and innovative to the market.

Because of this I decided to do specialty fruit and herbal teas in premium packaging as no one else was doing this. As well, our newest venture ICED by Taste Tea Naturals is a pioneer in the Antiguan business landscape, being the first and only company to bring bubble tea and jelly teas, popular in Asia, to the island. We serve bubble tea, jelly tea, iced teas and local drinks every Sunday from 2-5pm outside of Putters, Dickenson Bay.

– How do you put together different tea flavour combinations?

To come up with flavour combinations, I first think of the experience. Every tea I create is named after and connects you to an experience and I try to think of flavours that reflect the nuances of those experiences. Antigua is known for its black pineapple, the sweetest pineapple in the world, so I used that as a base layered with aromatic flavours such as coconut, cinnamon and ginger that reflect the island.

– What are your future plans for Taste Tea Naturals?

Many plans are in store for Taste Tea Naturals, some that can’t be shared yet, so you’ll have to keep an eye on us. For now, we are working towards expanding our product line as well as increasing regional and global distribution. In the future we plan to have a full Caribbean line representing all the islands as well as a charity line where all net proceeds will be donated to charities and projects. We are happy to have our ecommerce site which will soon undergo an upgrade, where people can order our teas from anywhere in the world and we offer global shipping as well.

– You donate a portion of your profits to the Adele School for Special Children in Antigua, is giving back an important part of your enterprise?

YES! I believe businesses should be socially responsible and do their part to make the world a better place. The goal of every business is to be profitable but to me it is important to share these profits with the community in positive and uplifting ways. While we refresh ourselves, we must also refresh others.

– Is tea drinking an important part of Antiguan culture?

Yes! Being a British colony, tea is a very large part of Antiguan culture. Many locals drink at least one cup of bush tea or another tea in the mornings. As tradition has it, the hot beverage quells gas and gives you energy to start your day. As well, many locals use teas for their varying health benefits.

– Where do you seek inspiration for your business?

I am inspired by the beauty of life. God has given us life and there is so much beauty in the world and in our lives but we often don’t see it because we are too busy. My business encourages a healthy lifestyle but also encourages people to slow down, enjoy the moments, and be grateful for all that we have. I am inspired by businesses that are making a difference in the world and I am especially inspired by small business owners who hustle every day to make their dreams come true. At ICED, we will be partnering with other local small business food owners to support them and also give them a platform and opportunity to showcase their products.

– What do you love about life in Antigua?

I love that life in Antigua is more relaxed. People take more time for themselves, they take time to chill. Friends can spend hours on their verandah or outside their car just talking to each other without having to make plans for a fancy dinner or outing.

– Where do you like to relax on a Sunday morning?

On a Sunday morning I will be at church. That is my time for worship and deepening my faith. After church I enjoy going to the beach for a swim, a nap and a good read.

– What are your favourite restaurants in Antigua?

My favourite restaurants in Antigua would have to be Table D’hote and Dennis Cocktail Bar and Restaurant. Amazing food at affordable prices.

– Where is your favourite view in Antigua?

My favourite view in Antigua is from Fort Barrington at Deep Bay. Stunning and peaceful.

ICED stall at Dickenson Bay
ICED stall at Dickenson Bay
Jellies for the Jelly Tea
Bubbles!

 

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Jellies for the Jelly Tea
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My order of Antiguan Bush Tea with Passion Fruit Jelly
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Taste Antigua Pineapple Ginger Twist tea bags

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