Retail in Asia


Nana Chan: Elevating craft tea in Hong Kong

While working as a lawyer, Nana Chan embarked on a hiking trip to Darjeeling and returned with a renewed desire to pursue a longtime passion for tea. Chan decided to leave corporate law and open a tea-centric café, Teakha, on Hong Kong’s Tai Ping Shan Street, in 2012.

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A hit from the start, Teakha pioneered the modern tea experience in Hong Kong and later blossomed into a retail tea brand, Plantation by Teakha, the fruit of Chan’s visits to tea plantations all over the world. Following Teakha’s 10th anniversary, Chan chose to shutter the cafe and focus on new ventures.

Perhaps a glimpse of Chan’s next chapter is her newly opened tea bar, Plantation, which features a selection of classics and unique teas from all over the world. Alongside bar and tatami areas for tasting and a la carte menus is a retail space that offers a new range of Plantation by Teakha packaged teas and teaware.

Here, Chan talks about creating her brand and launching Plantation in Hong Kong.

The facade of Plantation, located on Po Tuck Street in Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong. Source: Plantation
RiA: Tell us a bit about you and how you carved your niche in the beverage industry. 

Nana Chan: I suppose I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider. Being from Taiwan, for a long time I didn’t feel at home in Hong Kong. When I return to Taiwan, however, I felt like a foreigner too. Following conventional Asian parent expectations I studied law in the United Kingdom but I knew it wasn’t truly for me.

So, looking for something to do, I turned to tea, something I’ve long loved since I was a child. When I opened Teakha in Hong Kong in 2011, tea was still the poor cousin to coffee (and in some ways it may still be today…) and most people wondered why I refused to put coffee on the menu of my tea cafe. However, I think it’s that life of being an outsider that pushes me to constantly do things differently and to seek for the unconventional – and I think it paid off.

RiA: Tell us about your retail range. 

Chan: Our retail range, Plantation by Teakha, brings the best quality teas in beautifully designed cartons  and boxes. Our packaging are made from tea-dye designs each representing a different category of tea. Currently it is sold only in Hong Kong, on our website and in some specialty stores. In the next year I am hoping to be able to bring this to Europe. There is growing interest in Chinese and Taiwanese teas in Japan and in Europe, so I would love to bring the brand there. I would also like to acquire a tea plantation back in my home, Taiwan.

Source: Plantation
RiA: You have opened Plantation Tea Bar. What are your dreams for this space? 

Chan: My dream is for this space to redefine how people see tea. For a very very long time, tea has been viewed as something austere. To go to a “teahouse” can be a bit foreboding, something you need to muster up courage to go to because of the rituals and traditions, or something only for the tea geek who’s only purpose is to drink tea.

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However, with Plantation Tea Bar, I want to create a space which attracts both novices and tea lovers alike, a space that makes tea-drinking not only fun, but the ceremony beautiful. A place where you don’t feel the pressure to be quiet, yet can be rest assured that the tea you are drinking is the best there is to offer.