All the sparkle – no regrets

Have you ever found yourself craving the celebratory spirit of a glass of bubbles but didn’t want the hangover or the sugar crash? Sparkling tea might be just what you’ve been looking for.

Best friends for more years than they care to count, Karina Barry and Jo Thomas share a passion for the fun things in life, for bringing people together over a delicious meal and a glass of… (Let’s hold that thought!).

With Jo’s decades of experience in wine country marketing and Karina’s background in hospitality as the owner of Bells at Killcare, one of Australia’s most distinctive boutique resorts, they also command enviably discerning palates and a knack for recognising and filling a void in the market. Enter Mafalda, a Tea Master, who invited Karina and Jo to take over her tea business.

“There was a time when it was all about wine for us, but we have arrived at a place in our lives where our bodies were crying out for something nurturing that we could happily embrace in our everyday lives,” Jo says.

“When Mafalda opened our eyes to the nuances of ‘tea as it should be’, we traded our coveted wine cellars for treasured tea chests, and we’ve never been happier or healthier.”

Perfect matches

Karina adds, “Approaching meals with thoughts of how the culinary experience can best be complemented by a specific tea, was all new to us. “Now that we understand the flavour complexities that a fragrant or full-bodied tea can bring to your palate, our food pairing borders on obsession.
“We have learned that tea selection for a table of friends or family can be every bit as adventurous as choosing which wine to serve.

“It breaks the boredom of abstaining from alcohol with a kick-back of energy and clarity. Now that we have a grasp of which teas will calm or stimulate us, boost concentration, spark conversation and satisfy our cravings without the sugar low or caffeine crash, we know what it means to truly enjoy something as simple as our choice of tea.”

Their journey of discovery has led them to launch buds & beads, a range of 17 carefully selected loose leaf tea blends and three sparkling teas, for a bit of celebratory fun without regret.

With their extensive background in all things wine, the friends brought in winemakers and sommeliers for tasting sessions to help them decide which teas would be complex and flavourful enough to make the cut.

Jo explains, “Just like wine, knowing a tea’s place of origin, the climate and soil composition, when it is picked, and the intricacies of its preparation will allow you to fully appreciate it.

“That’s why we have included the story behind each tea, its benefits and serving suggestions on our packaging. From fragrant white teas, iced to take the edge off the summer heat, to full-bodied conversation-starters with captivating stories of origin, every one of these teas holds a special place in our hearts.”

Karina shares, “We love that every addictive pearl of our heavenly-scented Jasmine Pearls green tea is individually formed with the finesse you’d expect of fine jewellery.

Read more in our Summer Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

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Photography courtesy of buds & beads