Tea is an essential part of Egyptian culture, with it being a staple of every family gathering, friends’ outing, or celebration. Egyptians drink tea in a variety of ways, but flavored and fruity tea is almost always imported from abroad, and homegrown loose leaf tea is almost nowhere to be found, unless you’ve stumbled upon Second Nature.
Second Nature is a small local tea brand founded by Victoria Kalinina, a Kazakh national that has been living in Egypt for the past seven years.
“I’ve been a tea lover for as long I can remember, I never enjoyed coffee and my morning always started with a nice cup of tea,” Kalinina told Egyptian Streets.
When she was living in London, her love for tea became stronger because of how great the tea-drinking culture there is.
“Whenever I traveled anywhere I had to bring different tea blends with me, but since I moved to Egypt I found out that there’s such a huge shortage in nice loose leaf tea options,” she added.
The only options she found were black or green tea, and tea bags with artificial flavorings and additives in them.
Despite that, Egypt spends about 3 billion pounds a year for the tea and consumes 100 tons of tea annually, and per capita consumption rate ranges between 3 and 5 cups per day, according to the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations database. With Egypt ranking fifth globally in consumption of tea, the tea industry could afford to expand its types and varieties.
Kalinina finally decided to take the step of making her own herbal tea brand when she was on a trip to Spain two years ago.
“I was in one of the tiny tea shops buying tea to take back with me to Cairo. I was checking out different blends, smelling them, asking about ingredients, and thinking that it would be great if I could change some ingredients. That moment, I thought, why don’t I make my own tea brand?” she shared.
The moment she came back to Cairo, she started working on the brand straight away, and she recalls it as a very fast journey, being only a month from the second she got the idea until the moment she started selling her first blends.
Kalinina spent day and night researching different herbs, their effects, and what they could be mixed with.
“I tried so many different mixes until I came up with the perfect ones that I was satisfied with,” she said.
After collaborating with a graphic designer to create the brand identity, which she wanted to look fresh and modern, different from the brands already out there, she created an Instagram and it took off straight away since then.
“I was really overwhelmed with the feedback I received and all the happy clients that loved tea like me and couldn’t believe there was finally something like this in Egypt,” Kalinina told Egyptian Streets.
She added that Second Nature’s handcrafted tea blends are made in small batches without any flavorings or additives, only natural herbs, flowers, spices, and dried fruits.
Now, herbal tea blends are no longer the only product Second Nature sells. Kalinina decided that she wanted to give her customers the whole experience, so she collaborated with a local pottery designer and created a unique design for their Athena mugs.
Later, she also introduced teapots and dried fruit, which can now be found at both online and in-person storefronts.
“My goal is to stay true and authentic to the brand, making unique blends in small batches to ensure freshness of the product,” she added.
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Creating Second Nature has been an amazing experience for Kalinina and while it is a small handcrafted product, she is learning something new every day.
“I’m constantly trying to perfect everything and thinking of new ideas and there are a few people helping me with that. I don’t really have thoughts about huge expansions and opening branches and things like that. I want to keep it more exclusive, on a smaller scale to ensure quality and freshness,” she said.
Some of the most popular blends she currently sells are the Wake Me Up blend with green tea, orange, raisins, apple, hibiscus, and violet, as wells as the Windflower blend with Green Tea, Rose Petals, Violet Flower, and Lavender.
Kalinina sells her blends, mugs, teapots, and dried fruit on Instagram @secondnature.eg. Their tea blends are known for their “Instagrammable” look and alleged healing properties.