A cup of wellbeing: how THEENK TEA is driving positive change
They say that where there’s tea, there’s hope – and for Karolina Ba, founder of the award-winning herbal program THEENK TEA, this saying rings true on both a personal and business level.
Karolina launched her brand with the support of Virgin StartUp in 2019, after a battle with depression and anxiety in her early twenties led her to search for proactive ways of managing her mental health. It was a journey that would take her from an 'entrepreneurial itch' during her university years to a thriving full-time business.
THEENK TEA – a play on its potential to reinvigorate the mind and help you think – is now supplied by Selfridges and Virgin Experience Days; and it’s also available to buy with 7,000 Virgin Points via Virgin Red. The unique, 21-day program comprised of three distinct herbal tea blends for different stages of the day, along with a ‘brain-boosting eating plan’ and tips for everyday wellness.
Karolina designed the programme in collaboration with a nutritionist and a herbalist. The 29-year-old Londoner was also inspired by her own childhood in her native Poland.
“In Poland where I grew up, our family had a close relationship to natural and herbal remedies,” Karolina told Virgin Red. “There would always be herbal teas in my house, and my grandma would make her own varieties as well. We also used to use herbal leaves as a cure; for example, to heal a cut. So natural ingredients were always a first choice for us, before seeking medical help, or going to a pharmacy or anything.”
It’s this sense of preventative self-help that led Karolina to create THEENK TEA in the first place. Her own grapple with depression taught her that – rather than simply responding when a crisis hits – we need better ways to safeguard our mental health.
“We take care of our bodies, we exercise, we take supplements, we diet – we do so many different things when it comes to our physical health,” Karolina explained. “But when it comes to our mind, which is equally important, I would say we don't really do much to proactively support it. We don't really care for the mind every day, in a way that prevents issues in the future.”
Karolina believes that we can take better care of our mental health by developing simple, everyday habits that help our minds to be both soothed and stimulated.
“When I was studying at university, I noticed that lots of students had issues with performance; there was this huge pressure to get good grades and to finish with a first-class degree,” she says. “That’s when it clicked for me that we need options to improve performance and focus; as well as being able to relax and ward off anxiety.”
Spotting a gap in the market for better self-care routines, Karolina’s experience (and those of the people around her) inspired her to develop THEENK’s 21-day program.
“The idea was to create something that is very holistic, and that takes care of the many means of mental wellbeing,” says Karolina. “It's designed around 21 days because research shows that's how long it takes for most people to start developing a habit. So, THEENK TEA is all about developing healthy habits that promote mental wellbeing in lots of small, incremental ways.”
Supporting healthy mind habits
The THEENK TEA program includes three functional tea blends – Morning Glory, Afternoon Madness and Evening Delight – that contain nootropics and adaptogens. “Nootropics are a type of supplement that helps improve cognitive functions (such as focus and creativity), while adaptogens are natural substances that help the mind to adapt to stress over time,” says Karolina.
“Each of the three tea blends have different benefits, too. So the morning one is designed to boost energy levels and improve mood. And then the afternoon one is more to help people for that energy slump around 3pm; but without any caffeine, so it doesn't disrupt sleep later on. And the evening blend is restorative; it encourages relaxation which helps you to sleep better.”
The program also features a 21-day “mind-balancing eating plan” developed by a nutritionist, as well as daily nuggets of guidance on “nutrition, physical activity and mind exercises” that stimulate the brain.
THEENK TEAs are now also available in single blend varieties, with wellbeing tips for certain times of the day. For example, the evening blend might have advice on turning off your devices one hour before bedtime, in order to unwind before going to sleep.
Karolina has also collaborated with like-minded brands on a special edition THEENK TEA deluxe wellness gift box (available on Virgin Red and Virgin Experience Days) that contains treats from other small like-minded brands – including Bee Like a Bee wellness pralines, and a UK-made scented aromatherapy candle.
A holistic approach
THEENK TEA’s 21-day program can work on a short-term basis to bring about positive change; but its broader purpose is to coax people into building a chain reaction of positive mental health habits.
“We’re not just telling people, ‘drink the tea and that's it; you don't need to do anything else,’” says Karolina. “I know from my own experience that better mental health – including less stress and more energy – is never down to one thing. You need lots of different little habits that you build up daily, and that work individually for you. For example, every day when I wake up, I do 20 minutes’ yoga, then I meditate and go for a walk; and that’s all before I actually start doing any work. I just know myself, and I know that routine is what I have to do to feel good.”
Everyone will have their own mental wellbeing “recipe” in this regard, but THEENK TEA can help begin that journey with their daily structure of teas, nutrition plans and healthy lifestyle tips.
“A lot of the ideas I came up with are inspired by the biohacking community that I’m part of,” Karolina explains. “With the mind and the brain, I always think that it’s the simplest hacks that work the best, and that are proven to be the most effective. If we do small things every day – just taking it one day at a time (rather than thinking ahead at the bigger task) – it really does help.”
The 21-day program creates a start on this habit-stacking process, as you “find the right balance of things”, one cuppa at a time.
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