WorkTalk #3: Mojca Henigman, a storm in a tea shop

Mojca Henigman, is the co-founder / partner at MomoCha Fine Teas. Originally from Slovenia, she moved to London 7 years ago. She loves reading good books, doing yoga or dancing to relax. One of her favourite brews is Japanese Gyokuro green tea. 


So you quit your job to focus on your business?
Last year, I quit my full-time job as an Events Coordinator to focus on my tea business – MomoCha Fine Teas. My partner and I had previously been working on this on the side while juggling full-time jobs. I only wanted to quit when the business started supporting the both of us but sometimes you need to leap to make things happen.

Kyoto-Sencha

Why tea? Was this something you loved from young?
Growing up in Slovenia, tea was mostly herbal and flavoured. When we were children, my brother and I heard that English people put milk in their tea. We tried it … and concluded the English must be crazy. Milk in fruit tea tasted awful. There were no plans to start a tea business at this time!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 16.53.06

All this changed later. My partner and I started getting into fine, Japanese teas and we really wanted to learn where they came from. We travelled to Japan with that the intention to visit a tea plantation. We found out how tea is grown, how it’s picked and we were also lucky to meet a tea master who has taught us so much – how to appraise tea, the quality, everything.

More importantly he put us in touch with many of his business partners, people who worked in the industry and other tea plantation owners.

And we started dreaming about having our own tea house.

I dream of tea house - Mojca in front of a tea house in Kanazawa
I dream of tea house – Mojca in front of a tea house in Kanazawa

Lots of us dream of starting businesses but what first steps did you take? 

Meeting the Japanese tea master was heaven-sent. He sent us small sample orders of Japanese teas so that we could try and sell it in London.

If he hadn’t known us, he probably wouldn’t offer this to us. And we would have had to go through wholesalers and minimum orders – a much more expensive way to start a business.

We wanted to start small to test the waters so we first started selling at a stall at Brick Lane. After a year, we started selling online on our website and now we sell through other online and offline retailers and trade occasionally at live events.

But it was insane. I was juggling a full-time job that was very demanding. I had to travel a lot and I could only focus on MomoCha when I had left-over time and energy.

It was too half-hearted and I had to make a decision – commit to the business fully or let it go.

How did you decide on which was the right way to go? 

What I have learnt over time is to listen to my gut feeling, it always comes up and is hard to ignore. When I listen to it, I notice that it favours one option over the other. With time, it became clearer and clearer that there were many thing that I’d rather spend my time on than my day job.

Yes, I had loved my job before. It paid well. It allowed me to travel but my heart was elsewhere. I wanted to express myself in my own unique way and not just do something that helped me survive.

Stopping to smell the tea leaf - Mojca in a tea garden in Vietnam
Stopping to smell the tea leaf – Mojca in a tea garden in Vietnam

Weren’t you scared?
Of course I was scared. I was worried if this business would work out and be able to support both myself and my partner financially. And what id it doesn’t …?

But fear is just a part of life. If you listen to your fears uncritically, you probably won’t get much done, at least not what really matters to you.

Big things often come with big fears attached to them, but that’s part of the lesson we are supposed to learn, I think.

Even after you made the decision, there must have been doubts as well …
With all decisions, I think the most important thing is to stick with it and give it some time to work. Sometimes it’s really easy to second-guess yourself.

But instead of forever asking yourself if you have made the right decision, you need time to see if the decision you made is right.

You need to have faith in yourself. You have to be stubborn and adamant and realize that if you fail, it’s not the end of the world.

What do you love most about your job now?
One of the best times must be spring time, the time of fresh harvest, when we get to taste new fresh teas and pick our selection for the year ahead. It is definitely one of the most delicious times of the year!

Mojca Gyokuro pouring-Kanazawa

What are your tips for a really good tea time?

Good quality tea leaves, good quality (filtered) water, correct brewing (water temperature and steeping time). Then add some beauty to the process with nice brewing utensils or some

decoration. And last but not least – still your mind for those few minutes by bringing your full attention to the process. This will flood your body with beneficial biochemicals that we all need to feel good.


To find out more about MomoCha or to check out their award-winning range of teas, visit
http://www.momochafineteas.com/

You can also find advice on brewing specific teas there. It’s free shipping in the UK.

MomoCha Fine Teas are also stocked in Selfridges (Oxford Circus branch).

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