Growing up in Antigua and Barbuda, many would be familiar to the fragrance of a selection of bush teas that would be brewed, served with a bowl of porridge. The aromatic flavours of the tea would swirl around your mouth giving you the energy to start your day.
Bush teas are exactly what the name implies, teas brewed from local bushes/plants found in the garden. These teas can comprise of herbs, flower petals, fruits, tree bark, weeds and/or leaves, with many being used for medicinal teas that are promoted as a “cure all” for anything from the common cold to insomnia.
Speaking with Carla Gonsalves-Barriero, the Manager of Paddling Duck Herbal Teas, she explained how back to her roots has started a trend for the tea drinkers on island. Paddling Duck is currently the leading local tea blend company on the island with 8 blends, all with different qualities and all caffeine free. Some examples are the popular “Wellness blend” which is good for flu, fevers and exhaustion and mood-boosting “Turmeric Coconut Latte” which also aids prostate health in men and slows the aging process.
Who or what inspired you to be a tea blender?
CGB – I was inspired by my Grandmother Ioni E James with her teas, she always had interesting blends of bush teas (at that time I didn’t know it was blends!) But I was pushed when I was made redundant, I needed to do something to balance work and time with my son (at that time my son needed lots of my time being a single mother). I basically used my skills as a wine specialist combined with my love for teas. Then one day a deep conversation around a table with two fantastic ladies (self makers, creators and entrepreneurs) over wine and coffee, and boom a push with a deadline to start.... Paddling Duck was created.
You mentioned being a wine specialist and qualified Sommelier, are there any similarities in tea blends and wine tasting?
Yes, we use our high senses for both wine tasting and tea blending to be able to blend, and taste for quality, that is eyes, nose, tongue, (see, swirl, smell, taste, swallow).
What is your daily well-being regime? Does it start with a cup one of your teas?
CGB - My daily routine is to pray, exercise, do positive affirmations, drink water, water my plants, shower, drink a cup of tea and starting my day checking emails etc. The tea I usually start with is my wellness blend; it awakens me with the natural energy I need to start my day. The aromas in Wellness Blend with its caffeine like effect gives the correct amount of vigour to get up and go!
Where do you currently distribute to and how can people learn more about your teas?
CGB - Paddling Duck distributes to small boutique hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, online channels such as Instagram, Facebook and now our website https://thepaddlingduck.com/ which launched on 30th January 2022.
Through businesses like The Paddling Duck, an ancestral practice of drinking herbal teas to aid health has been revived and has been made accessible to Antiguans and Barbudans local and abroad. It has also given people from other cultures the opportunity to taste local blends whilst vacationing and take them home to enjoy and share with others. Antiguans and Barbudans have long known the benefits of their beloved bush tea and it is great to see that this legacy is being continued through Carla Gonsalves-Barriero and her business Paddling Duck Herbal Teas.