A Cup of Tea with Sylvana

At English Tea Shop, our employees are at the heart of everything we do. We work closely with our employees to forge a community and not just a workplace. Our company is currently 30% employee owned, a number which we aim to expand over the next few years. But in addition to all this, we regularly sit down with a member of our team to find out a little bit more about them. Next up, we are joined by Sylvana Fonseka, Assistant Manager of Quality here at English Tea Shop. We talk – quality, Prajãva and all things tea!


Tell us about your role at English Tea Shop. What does your job involve?

With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to upholding the highest standards, the position of Assistant Manager of Quality plays a crucial role in ensuring that products and processes meet the expectations of both company and customer. This involves conducting regular inspections, tests, and audits, and working closely with various teams to align our quality standards with the company goals and customer expectations.


What do you love most about English Tea Shop and our farm-to-cup ethos? 

I appreciate English Tea Shop’s dedication towards transparency in sourcing and production. This builds trust and confidence in the quality and origin of the products, and in return it allows consumers to trace the journey of their tea from the tea farms, all the way to their cups!


What does Prajãva or community mean for you?

At English Tea Shop, we care for our farmers, suppliers and employees. We foster a space where people share values and experiences and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and expertise. For me, Prajãva is all about love, sharing and caring. 


Tell us more about the quality process at English Tea Shop…

Once we’ve received the tea, we meticulously follow quality standards, checking for appearance, aroma, flavour and safety, by conducting sensory evaluations. We assess the taste of the tea leaves and perform lab tests to verify the absence of pesticides and ensure compliance with safety regulations.


Our Master Blenders create unique tea blends by combining different tea varieties, herbs, and botanicals and ensure consistency in flavour across different batches. We then use high-quality packaging materials to preserve the freshness, aroma, and flavour of the tea.


But above all, our job is about maintaining relevant certifications such as: organic, fairtrade and B Corp status, which demonstrates our commitment to sustainable practices. 


What is the biggest challenge when it comes to quality management at English Tea Shop?

Ensuring that quality standards are maintained at every step of the supply chain, from tea production to packaging. This can be complex, especially when dealing with multiple suppliers and adhering to various food safety and quality regulations in differing markets.


Tell us about the open book management initiative at English Tea Shop…

The open book management initiative transforms the company culture into one that values transparency, collaboration, and shared responsibility. They share financial data, company performance metrics, and other relevant information with employees, allowing us to understand how, and why, the company operates and how our individual contributions impact overall success. In addition, performance-based incentives motivate employees to actively contribute to the company’s financial success, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. 


Are you more of a tea cup or a mug person?

A Mug Person.


What is your favourite blend of tea and how do you enjoy it?

My favourite blend is Lemongrass, Citrus and Ginger. The invigorating and zesty flavours of Lemongrass Citrus Ginger tea can provide a refreshing start for my day, helping to wake me up and get energised for the morning ahead.


What blend do you reach for when you’re feeling unwell?

Immune Me or Lemongrass, Citrus and Ginger are the best!  


What is your favourite ingredient in its natural form, and why?

Lemongrass. The flavour is fresh, tangy, and slightly sweet, similar to the taste of lemon, but milder.


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