Born in the UK to parents from Kenya and Pakistan, her affinity for tea began early in life. Tabassum Awan, founder of Pink Tea Cafe tells us everything about her tea business.
Her father was born in the famous tea town Kericho in Kenya, and so she inherited culture with a deep reverence for tea, not merely as a beverage but as a common foundation through which the essence of life flowed. From the age of 9, she served tea to the many guests who visited their bustling social home.
During one of these frequent large gatherings, her uncle lovingly nick-named her the ‘Tea-maker of Leicester’. Little did she know that this seemingly small duty would someday evolve to become a central part of her life.
For many years her life took a very different path; a Mathematics degree, over a decade in finance, then a Masters at Harvard. She had a constant desire for more and the feeling of not enough! She struggled to find the quiet satisfaction she so craved. Upon realizing that the insatiable thirst for achievements and goals would never truly be quenched, she began the pursuit of more profound, more enriched living.
She first discovered Pink Tea on a trip to the Himalayas. Surrounded by enchanting mountains, moved by the simplicity of the local way of life and stimulated by the fresh fragrant air, “I sipped on this sweet yet delicate, blush coloured liquid. Upon my return to London and corporate life, I was struck by the contrast and couldn’t help but reflect on that moment. I set about searching for Pink Tea in London, but it was nowhere to be found, and so I knew I needed to bring it here myself.”
Pink Tea Café began to emerge: to bring joy, inspiration and a moment of magic.
“It took some time (years) for me to let go of the corporate world, but amid the pandemic, the moment finally came when I let go of my fears and my attachment to the status and glamour of a career in high finance. In the great adventure of life, such a drastic change matters little, and I realize that it’s all about the journey after all.“
What does your business do?
Pink Tea Café brings joy, inspiration and a moment of magic, celebrating the authentic chai culture of South Asia in the heart of London. We are open every day in Mayfair, North Audley Street.
The signature drink, Pink Tea (also known as Kashmiri Chai), is rarely found because of the skill and time it takes to cook. Organic green tea leaves undergo a unique two hour brewing process which I describe as both ‘a science and art’ to achieve the velvet consistency and naturally pink colour. Also on the menu is an array of fresh artisan parathas, and homemade classic cakes with a sophisticated twist – they are for more than just a selfie! Fancy a cardamom scones with clotted cream?
What’s your advice to other people who have business ideas?
Think deeply about the reality of this life. You have probably at most another 90 years to live (unless your less than 10 and reading this, you could live more!). Will your fears hold any weight then? Does it bring in some perspective? In 90 years you can imagine how many fears will seem so insignificant. You might ridicule this fear in even a few years from now, so go and at least try and give it a go. Because the pain of regretting not trying will be worse than the fear you have now. Life is finite.
How has PBC helped you?
PBC has been an incredible support, particularly through a very lonely time in the pandemic and generally as an entrepreneur. The beautiful nature of everyone at PBC gives a welcoming and inclusive feeling to businesses. This meant that at many roadblocks and struggles, I would immediately think of them, reach out and get the direction and advice I needed. I am so grateful for PBC!
Would you recommend PBC?
Of course! I already have told so many people about PBC, and have made people in other boroughs jealous!