DUBAI: Food writer, recipe developer and founder of Instagram blog Pass Me the Dimsum, Haiya Tarik, recently launched her own artisanal tea brand called Haiyatea as a testament to her admiration of Japanese culture and cuisine.
Haiyatea offers a range of teas, including matcha, sencha, gyukoro, hojicha and genmaicha sourced from Japan. The online store offers merchandise like the Komorebi tea leaf strainer, and candles placed inside traditional Japanese tea cups that are stocked in limited quantities.
“The word Haiyatea sounds like ‘Hayati,’ which in Arabic means ‘my life,’ so it was really a very meant to be kind of thing,” the founder told Arab News Japan.
The launch of the brand is rooted in Tarik’s fascination with tea which motivated her to become a certified tea sommelier.
Her sommelier certification was acquired from the International Tea Masters Association, where she was taught by a Japanese tea connoisseur who studied tea for 30 years.
Trips to Tencha farms in Kyoto fortified Tarik’s passion for tea and the unique processing methods used in Japan.
“What amazes me about it, is that the time the Japanese tea farmers save through semi-mechanical harvesting and the CTC method of processing” they spend time “perfecting the cultivars and natural flavors of the teas. What makes matcha and gyukoro so special, for example, is that it is shaded for three weeks prior to harvest. The lack of sunlight makes the leaves work harder, makes the roots starchier and therefore concentrates the amino acids, making for a sweeter tea that’s richer in L-theanine. It’s a very involved and mindful process, producing superior and unparalleled quality teas,” Tarik explained.
Tarik is from Pakistan, was brought up in Saudi Arabia and moved to Dubai eight years ago. She said her upbringing did not expose her to Japanese culture, but upon learning more about it she resonates with many of its elements.
“I just resonate so much with how committed the Japanese are towards achieving perfection,” she said.
Her appreciation of Japanese culture extends beyond her love of tea as Tarik frequently shares posts about the traditional Japanese dishes she serves up, including chawanmushi, okonomiyaki, katsu curry, onigiri, soba and gyozas.