To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, we asked you for nominations of female entrepreneurs or businesswomen whose work, projects, attitude or perseverance you admired. In part one of our story, we meet Nana Chan, a tea lover whose business in HK, Plantation, aims to introduce the pleasures of tea drinking to as many people as possible.
Where are you from and how long have you been in Hong Kong?
I am originally from Taiwan, but I’ve been living here since I was ten. So HK is really my home.
Tell us about Plantation HK.
I’ve always been into tea. My mother finds it odd where it comes from as my family only drinks “milk tea”. But it actually makes total sense because, growing up, the milk tea at home was a lot better than I tasted anywhere else. I later discovered it was due to my father’s dogged obsession with the kind of milk he used, the water temperature and the steeping time. From there grew my love for tea, and finding ways to perfect the brew brought me immense joy.
In 2012, I started Teakha (branded as “teakha”) in Sheung Wan as a way to recreate and share my love for afternoon tea with my beloved city. It was the first of its kind, pioneering a new wave of modern teashops in Hong Kong, and it helped boost the quiet Tai Ping Shan Street neighbourhood to a “hipster” destination.
The business ran for ten years, and I found myself more and more drawn towards the story of “tea” itself – the journey of the leaf from farm to cup. So, in 2018, I started the Plantation (plantation.hk) brand as a way of educating people in Hong Kong about what true tea is all about; first as an online business and then a brick-and-mortar shop selling premium-quality, single-origin teas sourced from the origin. Today, Plantation offers a wide array of services including wholesale, retail, workshops, gifting and, soon, a tea bar in Sai Ying Pun.
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
Turning novices and non-tea drinkers into tea lovers!
Any particular challenges you’ve faced being a businesswoman n HK?
To be honest, I found the F&B industry in Hong Kong to be a kind place. However, there were definitely people who didn’t take me seriously at the start because I was a woman – a woman with a silly idea to sell tea in a sea of coffee drinkers! That only drove me to try to prove myself and work harder.
What advice would you give other women keen to start a business here?
Follow your dreams, do what you love. These are all things that have been said over and over again but it is true! I know for a fact that you shine so much brighter when you’re working on something you love, and everything else in your life just naturally falls into place.
What are you excited about for 2023 and beyond?
Our new tea bar, of course! I don’t want to give away too much at this point, but this will be a brand new experience involving interesting new interpretations of tea.
We hope you enjoyed our International Women’s Day story. Read more in our Living in Hong Kong section.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.