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The incredible power of herbs: an interview with Pukka's herbsmith, Sebastian Pole

23rd maj 2014

Look at any supermarket tea aisle and one thing’s clear: herbal tea is here to stay. The shelves are literally crammed with different varieties, from all sorts of brands; some you’ve heard of, others you haven’t.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. Growing up in the 80s, as I did, there was very little choice. If you wanted a herbal drink you had to put up with it looking and smelling good, but not delivering on flavour – to put it mildly. 

Pukka was created to change that. Tim and I set out to brew herbal tea that tasted amazing by using the very best quality herbs possible, which meant high-grade or medicinal quality herbs only. Or to put it another way, we only used herbs that herbal practitioners would use to treat people. 

Today, our teas still only contain the same high-grade herbs as our herbal supplements; they are the best herbs they can possibly be. Because of this commitment to herb quality, our teas taste amazing and that’s why people love them. But I don’t think it’s the only reason Pukka teas are growing in popularity.

Herbs make people feel alive

Tea drinkers in China and India have long understood the health benefits of herbal tea, and slowly the west is catching-up as more and more people move away from black tea and coffee, aware of the negative effects regular caffeine hits can have on their health.

The herbs we use are full of beneficial properties. They’ve been grown organically to retain their natural potency, and their essential oil content has been analysed in the Pukka lab to ensure it matches the quality standards we look for.

What’s more, they’ve been expertly blended using the wisdom of India’s ancient health system, Ayurveda. This means that every Pukka herbal blend is created with its associated health benefits in mind. Our teas aren’t simply about flavour – they’re about helping people feel alive every time they drink a cup.

Herbs can change lives

In addition to health, herbs have the power to transform the livelihoods of those who grow them – many of whom live in the developing world.

This is of paramount importance to us, which is why we work closely with our growers to help them grow herbs sustainably, so that they protect the environment and their livelihoods; and we trade with them using fair principles wherever possible, to ensure they’re justly rewarded for their efforts.

Over the years, we’ve had the great privilege of watching herbs change the lives of many Pukka growers, and we’ve seen sustainable herb practices help endangered plant species begin to flourish again.

The power of the right quality herbs is, as you can see, huge: not only can they turn a dull tea into an incredible tea, but they can also benefit our health and help underpin the livelihoods of thousands of farmers all over the globe.

Perhaps it’s these three components that is making Pukka teas one of the most popular choices on supermarket shelves. All we know for sure is we’re just happy to be there.

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Sebastian Pole, Sebastian Pole, Co-founder and Master Herbsmith

Hello There. I’m a Co-founder and the Master Herbsmith at Pukka Herbs. As well as having the most amazing job of formulating all our organic teas and supplements I am a passionate environmentalist – that’s why we are 100% organic, pioneers in sustainably sourcing herbs with FairWild, and we give 1% of our turnover for rejuvenating the Planet. I also run my own herbal practice in Bath which I’ve done since 1998. I practise an eclectic blend of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western Herbal Medicine and am a registered member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. I love using the principles of Ayurveda (aka the ancient art of living wisely) – coupled with insights of traditional healing and modern science - to help create the best of health. Inspired by my time in India, I love cooking a vegetarian feast and rely on regular yoga practice with lots of herbal teas and tonics to keep me well. I am passionate about running a business that inspires positive change and brings the benefit of the incredible power of plants to everyone we connect with – from our farmers, collectors, Pukka team to you. I live on a two acre garden-farm in Somerset where I grow a rainbow spectrum of medicinal and nourishing plants for my bees and family to thrive on.