Thursday thought…

“What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things.” 
– Anonymous. 

Inspiring People: Alison Dillon, Cup Above Tea

Did you know that the favours and aromas of tea are as complex as wine or coffee? It was this realisation that prompted Alison Dillon to create her company, Cup Above Tea. This is what she learned along the way…

1. Tell us your story:
I’m no different to most people who’ve upskilled, reskilled or done an about-face in their career and started their own business. While I love the corporate world and my global communication career, I felt like it was time to push further out of my comfort zone and finally start my own business – something I’ve always thought I’d do, but I just hadn’t always known what that business might be. Funnily enough it was my personal passion for champagne that actually sparked my tea journey, and ultimately, the launch of Cup Above Tea.

2. How did you identify the goals you wanted to achieve?
My weak spot for champagne coupled with a family connection to viticulture led me to learn more than my fair share about wine making. I came to understand how things like terroir, growing conditions, processing, innovation, tradition, skill and effort all combine to impact taste and quality. It was these concepts – provenance, craftsmanship and seasonality – that got me thinking about how this might apply to tea. I wanted to know why Darjeeling tasted and looked so different to English Breakfast. Why is black tea black and not green? What’s an oolong and why are there so many? How can some tea be worth upwards of $1000 for just a few grams? It was difficult to find answers. There were conflicting stories. Most tea merchants knew very little about what they were selling. So my curiosity got the better of me and I decided I would find out for myself.

3. How did you work towards achieving your goal?
I learned all I could on my own, but still had lots of unanswered questions, so I embarked on my ‘official’ tea training journey, completed my formal tea studies and headed abroad to more deeply immerse myself in processing, production and culture at tea gardens around the world. There is no better way to learn, than from the experts themselves and I was very fortunate to meet some wonderfully talented people who showed me so much and shared their time and expertise with me so generously. 

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered along the way?
The more I learned, the faster I realised our palates have been putting up with inferior, mass produced tea for far too long. In the liquid world, we readily appreciate and understand the vast quality spectrum that differentiates a cask wine and a vintage bottle of aged red, or instant coffee and single origin fresh-roasted beans. There’s a tea spectrum too. But most of us are languishing at the wrong end of it. I knew there was a better option out there than most people are aware of so the challenge was set to introduce tea drinkers to what they didn’t even know they had been missing out on!

5. What inspires you and keeps you going when you encounter obstacles?
I’m inspired by the craftspeople who have spent lifetimes, and even generations, perfecting their skills. It’s a good reality check to think that excellence is earned over time, not instantaneously, and that can put things into sharp perspective. 

6. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to achieve a goal?
Perseverance and discipline are key, but equally important is celebrating and recognising yourself for your achievements. 

7. What are the next goals you hope to achieve?
Exciting things are happening later this year for Cup Above Tea, I can’t give too much away but it involves a brand new part of our website, lots of fun for our customers, and plenty of customisation. You’ll have to stay tuned! 

Alison Dillon is among the first to become a Certified Tea Master in Australia. Basically, this means she knows much more than the average person about tea. With her skills, knowledge, passion and business expertise she is steadily changing the way that Australians make their tea choices. 

She founded Cup Above Tea to place a focus on exceptional tea with outstanding provenance and incredible craftsmanship. This sort of tea is not the kind you find on chain store shelves, rather it is accessed via carefully developed relationships with artisans who produce the very best single-batch teas from a special collection of small family gardens around the world. 

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Inspiring People: Ryan Hassan, the Melbourne Centre of Healing

Ryan Hassan has been in a dark place he hopes no one else has to experience. Ryan’s personal experience with drug addiction and being on the wrong side of the law is what inspired him to create the Melbourne Centre of Healing. Here’s how he got to where he is today…

1. Tell us your story:
My name is Ryan and I’m from Melbourne, Australia. Right now I’m running a Mental Health & Addiction clinic where our aim is to free as many people as possible from these issues. Less than a year ago I was a drug addict/dealer and found myself in trouble with the law. I was going through a really dark period in life, and after coming out the other end and being happier than ever, it’s my passion now to help people do the same.

2. How did you identify the goal/s you wanted to achieve?
My initial goal was just to get off drugs, then it became “How do I not only get off them but be happier in myself than ever?

Once that was achieved then it became “How do I create this for other people now?”

3. How did you work towards achieving your goal – did you have a plan and a deadline to achieve your goals? 
There was no real deadline on these goals. Once I found the treatment that freed me I knew I had found my purpose. I was told early on by someone “Don’t expect everyone to get the clean the same way that you did.”

This was profound for me so I became relentless in studying how all people who got clean did so, and what the commonalities were.

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered along the way?
The initial challenge was getting myself clean, from there I had legal issues that dragged on for months. Then there was starting a business from scratch with no money. It’s interesting though, once you find your purpose then any challenge that comes up doesn’t seem that great. It’s more seen as just part of the journey. And these challenges have been my greatest learning experiences.

5. What inspires you and keeps you going when you encounter obstacles?Human potential is what inspires me the most. When I see someone who’s had a breakthrough then all the obstacles, no matter how big, shrink to nothing. 

6. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to achieve a goal?
Are you hungry? When you’ve got the goal in mind, does it stir something inside you?
That’s the fuel that’s required. Whether it’s moving away from pain or towards pleasure, that emotional drive is what will make you endure the roller coaster ride ahead. Imagine yourself having achieved the goal, see it and feel it in your mind every day.

7. What are the next goals you hope to achieve?
Next goals are expansion for the business so we can reach more people. A lot of exciting things coming out online too. Raising EI (Emotional Intelligence) in society is key to tackling addiction and mental health issues.

Also shaking up the current system. Right now drug rehab programs are roughly a 10% success rate which is simply not good enough, the current system has proven itself to be ineffective.

Ryan Hassan believes “It’s time to stop looking at the addiction and start looking at the person”. Learn more about Ryan’s journey and business here:

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Why I do what I do: Annaliese Allen, Honeybell Waterwear

Last month, Annaliese Allen shared some gorgeous advice that her dad gave her for our Father’s Day blog series. We were intrigued to learn more about Annaliese and her business, Honeybell Waterwear, so this month she very kindly shared her story of “Why I do what I do”…

1.Tell us a bit about your job and how you got to where you are now?
I am the founder of Honeybell Waterwear, an Australian boutique sun protection clothing label for women. All Honeybell Waterwear garments are made in breathable fabric that is certified as providing UPF 50+ protection, the highest possible rating available, blocking 98% of the sun’s damaging UVA/UVB rays.

I have the type of skin that burns, so I was always pretty good at practicing the Cancer Council’s the Slip! Slop! Slap! message. A key component of this message is “slip on clothing”, and I thought that wearing a t-shirt was enough. But when I started looking into it and learned that the average white cotton t-shirt only has a SPF 5, it motivated me to buy a ‘rashie’ for myself. But finding a rashie that fitted me properly was not as easy as I thought – they were terribly unflattering and unfashionable.

The experience got me thinking; if wearing a rashie is making me feel body and fashion conscious, then other women are probably feeling that way too. So I decided to design rashies I wanted to wear. 

Other than providing a high level of sun protection, in fact the highest possible level, the end result is a looooong way from the regular rashie!

2. What do you love most about your job?
I love that it doesn’t feel like a job!  
When I was in the corporate world there was this constant struggle to maintain a work/life balance. Then, when I had kids, my outside life became more of a priority and I was never able to get that balance back (if I ever did have it in the first place!).

When I became my own boss, there was no longer a need to balance my time. Time working on the business is enjoyable, I look forward to it and it gives me energy, rather than draining me! Yes, I’m probably working more hours running my own business, but it sure doesn’t feel like it!

3. What’s your life mantra?
Stress is good.
Embrace your crazy, busy, stressful life and enjoy! A stress-free life does not provide happiness. High levels of stress come along with the things we want: purpose, meaning, community, love. 
Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk on stress, titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend” was a life changing 14 minutes for me!

4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I’d be dressed up in a suit managing a strategy project for a corporate client. I am an accountant by trade and have always enjoyed numbers and problem solving. This type of work just doesn’t fit into my life right now.

5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

The best gifts I’ve received are always ordinary items that I would have never bought for myself. Like so many other women, I am great at buying nice things for my partner and children, but never splash out on myself – so it is amazing when I receive something special just for me.  

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone?
Post-Poo Drops. A life changer for the recipient and their partner! Just a couple of drops after activity has occurred in the bathroom to neutralise disagreeable smells. The first time I bought this as a little bit of a joke, but they actually work and I’m now giving these to everyone who has to share a bathroom! 

Annaliese Allen, founder of Honeybell Waterwear

Want more? You can learn more about Annaliese and how she is redefining the rashie with Honeybell Waterwear.

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Thursday thought…

“All men dream: but not equally. 
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, 
for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” 
– T.E Lawrence

Inspiring People: Dundee Kim, founder of Dundee’s Boxing and Fitness Gym

Apart from the benefits of physical fitness boxing also promotes other skills, such as discipline that you can apply to other areas of your life. Dundee Kim shares how he used some of the skills he acquired from boxing to achieve his goals. 

1. Tell us your story:
My name is Dundee Kim. I am an ex-amateur boxing champion from South Korea, and I now run a boxing gym and online sports store in Brisbane, Australia. I have also lived, studied and worked in China and Japan. 

2. How did you identify the goal/s you wanted to achieve?
Your goals become clearer with time when you’re working hard and putting your best into everything you do; you might not exactly know what you’re working towards at first. In my case, the reason I started boxing was so I could protect myself against school bullies.

But I found that I loved boxing, and eventually I became a two-time amateur champion. Then after a while, I realised how important study was if I wanted to further progress in life. So I studied in Beijing and moved to Australia soon after, where I obtained my Diploma of Ministry in 2000 and Master of Business Administration in 2003. 

The study helped me to combine my fighting spirit and interpersonal skills and start a career in marketing. I worked hard and it paid off because I eventually became Regional Director of International Relations at James Cook University.

Only after I made all this progress did I realise my dream of opening a boxing gym, where I could train people in the skills that led me to my success in the first place. I attribute so much of my success to the discipline and strength it’s given me, so I can’t help but try and pass its benefits on to others.

3. How did you work towards achieving your goal – did you have a plan and a deadline to achieve your goals? 
I didn’t exactly have a deadline, but I knew I wanted to establish myself in Australia very quickly. I suppose I took a fairly traditional route via study, but I worked extremely hard and developed as many new skills as I could until I got where I wanted to be. There were years and years of hard work, but I just stayed strong and stayed dedicated to my goals.

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered along the way?
Well, when I first arrived in Australia, I couldn’t speak a word of English. That was tough. But I’ve been interested in learning languages all my life, and they’re like any other skill – difficult to learn, and difficult to keep up. I just had to work through the difficulty and not get too overwhelmed with the challenges it posed. 

5. What inspires you and keeps you going when you encounter obstacles?
I firmly believe in the power of physical training – it’s a life force. It’s not just about fitness and staying in shape – it gives you the skills, the discipline and resolves to propel you forward through pretty much any of life’s real challenges. When things are tough, I draw on the wealth of knowledge that my life in boxing has granted me.

6. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to achieve a goal?
Set your goals out clearly and do your best to achieve them, but never be afraid to ask for help when things are hard. As a trainer, my primary role is as a helper. People forget that even the best athletes in the world need help, from trainers and coaches and mentors. So when in doubt, just ask! You’ll learn more and you’ll achieve more.

7. What are the next goals you hope to achieve?
I recently developed a boxing program that Fitness Australia have endorsed for personal trainers, so I’d like to continue with that kind of work into the future. I also train top amateur boxing champion Jeff Horn and I’d like to continue to work with him.

Mainly, I just want to maintain my business and continue to help people. That’s what gives me the most fulfillment.

Learn more about Dundee Kim at

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Father’s Day Recipe: Tagliatelle Marinara with light cream sauce & chives

This is a beautiful, luxurious and delicate pasta dish that won’t leave you feeling over-full. It’s also surprisingly easy to make and presents very impressively. 

It’s important to keep the sauce of this recipe light and creamy in texture, so that it doesn’t overwhelm the wine. The tagliatelle is effective at holding the sauce and wrapping it around the seafood as you eat and spaghetti is an excellent alternative. Many fish shops sell a pre-prepared marinara mix. For freshness of flavour the fish should be bought the same day as you intend to cook.

Suggested match NV New World sparkling, ideally a fresh young wine.

A fresh, citric New World sparkling wine (i.e. from Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and the US) will meld beautifully with the pasta flavours. The chives and spring onion create the link between the pasta and the wine, adding a fresh touch to the creaminess of the dish. 

Tagliatelle Marinara with light cream sauce & chives from 
PAIRED: Champagne & Sparkling Wines

Prep: 15 min
Cook: 10 min

Serves 4

  • 1 packet fresh tagliatelle pasta
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of butter 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125ml/4fl oz) dry white wine
  • 200ml (7fl oz) cream
  • 125g (4.5oz) double cream brie, chopped
  • 1½ heaped tablespoons seeded mustard
  • 400g (14oz) seafood marinara mix
  • bunch fresh chives, chopped


1. Boil the tagliatelle as per packet’s instructions and set to one side.

2. Over a high heat melt the butter and add the garlic. Once it starts to sizzle add the spring onions. Reduce heat slightly and stir regularly for about a minute. Add wine and allow to simmer for about 3–4 minutes until the liquid reduces by about a third. Add cream, brie and mustard. Continue to simmer and stir until all the cheese is dissolved. 

3. Introduce the seafood and cook for a further 3–5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the seafood is ready to serve. Taste test to check that the seafood is tender.
4. Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle liberally with fresh chives. In a colander, refresh the tagliatelle by pouring some hot water over it and shake out any excess water. Plate the tagliatelle and use a ladle to spoon the seafood and sauce on top. Garnish with a final sprinkle of chives.

This recipe was kindly shared with us by David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn, authors of PAIRED: Champagne & Sparkling Wines. 

PAIRED is is an easy-to-follow recipe book that can teach everyone how to match food and wine for themselves. This grounding breaking, award-winning book is written by husband-and-wife team — wine expert David Stevens-Castro (from Chile) and photographer/designer Fran Flynn (from Ireland) — who are based on the Gold Coast of Australia. Delicious recipes — which have been designed with the home cook who enjoys entertaining in mind — are inspired by flavours from the authors’ home countries and international travels. Overall the language is simple & accessible, the pages are beautifully illustrated and the concept is new and inviting. 
Mr Gift will soon be a proud stockist of this book, which will be available to purchase on soon. 

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