Chi Fit teas and coffees: Rosalind Beere on brewing up the perfect business

Chi Fit teas sent as press sample for review

Starting a business has been compared to having a baby. Dr Rosalind Beere went one better and was giving birth to her business baby – Chi Fit teas and coffees – while actually giving birth to her third child.

Yup, she was in the labour ward and firing off emails. Now that’s an inspirational woman!

Christian – her real baby – is now one year old and enjoying life in Dublin with his big sister Catherine, seven, and six-year-old brother Senan. Oh, and daddy Cian, of course!

Chi Fit, meanwhile, is officially a month older and also going great guns.

Ros who has two Masters degrees and a PhD in strategy, which she gained by studying part-time, began her tea company after being badly injured in 2015.

Wanting to overhaul her health, the 42-year-old lecturer decided to quit her addictive fizzy drinks in favour of tea. However, she couldn’t find any she liked – and so she began experimenting in her kitchen.

The result was Chi Fit Original Tea Blend, a delicious mix of ten ingredients, including green tea, mint, rose-petal tea, pu’erh and oolong.

Ros sent me some to sample – I won’t put anything on 50Sense I don’t like – and it is gorgeous.

When I was a little girl, my family nickname was Teapot because all I ever wanted was “a tup of tea”. I still love tea, but herbals…? Hand on heart, I can’t get away with them. I buy them – mainly because I love the boxes and I know they’re “good” for you – and then they lie there, gathering dust. Mint does not make tea.

However, because Ros’s teas have proper tea in them, they were proper tea to drink. (Bit bad English there but you get my drift.) I drank them without milk and they tasted great. I found myself reaching for them over my usual PG Tips without even thinking about it.

However, the best seal of approval came from Mr 50Sense. He is weird and doesn’t like tea or coffee (I know! How did I marry him?), but because he suffers from stomach problems, he forces himself to drink herbal and fruit teas. But he loved Chi Fit. “It really helps when my stomach’s playing up,” he said.  

For the first time in 22 years, I found myself uttering those immortal words of love: “Do you want a cuppa tea?”

In addition, I tried the Sleep Tea Blend after a string of nights when the menopause was hitting hard and I was awake for several hours. It looks as lovely as it tastes, with ingredients including rose petals, chamomile, hibiscus, lavender, jasmine, valerian root and lily.

It had me feeling so chilled I read one paragraph of my book before falling asleep. And while I still woke up, I was much more relaxed. It was kinda like: “Yeah, I’m awake. Now I’m going to go back to sleep” and I did.

Chi Fit is also environmentally friendly and each bag can be used four to five times. I recommend four times, when I left it in around three minutes to get the full flavour.

Plus I love that there is an eating programme on the website for those people wanting to truly overhaul their lifestyle.

A quick disclaimer –  this isn’t some sort of “get thin fast by drinking 15 cups of tea each day” programme. Instead, Ros worked with a nutritionist to create a proper healthy eating plan, with real food. It gives around a good 1,450 calories a day, which is what I aim for when I want to lose weight. (This is my goal after working out my TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure. If you want to lose weight, believe me it is the best way to go.)

I’m not the only one who is impressed. From next month, Chi Fit will be available in Boots and Ros is also in talks with two UK distributors.

Here, Ros tells us more about the horrendous accident that made her want to overhaul her life, shares her top tips for starting a business and reveals how she was inspired by her little girl…

What is Chi Fit?

My Chi Fit journey began after a series of events events in my life rather than one big “eureka moment”.

Firstly, I was knocked down by a drink-driver in Donnybrook, close to Dublin city centre, in 2015 and I was lucky to come out of that alive.

Plus, after a 20-year addiction to highly caffeinated drinks and what turned out to be a bad back, four bulging discs and a bad left knee, I knew I needed to change my lifestyle and diet.

I’d heard lots of good things about green tea and pu’erh tea etc, but I hated them. However, I knew were good for me, so I started blending in my own kitchen.

My first blend was the Chi Fit Original Tea Blend, which has ten ingredients and eight teas. It has a lovely minty freshness and it gives you a great energy boost, plus so many other health and fitness benefits.

Once I had my business idea, I did a lot of research into the market and found there was a gap for an everyday tea that tasted delicious and was good for you

How did you come up with the name?

Finding a name took me a few goes. I knew I wanted something that connected the product to the ancient and authentic heritage of Chinese teas (not the negative connotations sometimes associated with “Made in China”). I also wanted a name people could identify with.

 So I thought of Tai Chi and how people understand it’s an ancient form of physical movement and fitness. This gave me the Chinese word “Chi”, meaning energy and balance, and the “Fit” was to emphasis the idea of health and wellbeing.

How did you find your suppliers?

After a number of months searching, I found an amazing organic producer in Yunnan, south-west China. Then it took more time to translate my blend ratio from my kitchen into the final product. It involved lots of samples and me tasting and tweaking until I got it exactly how I wanted it.

I wanted the loose-leaf tea to be in teabags for convenience, so you can use them four to six times each and they still retain their taste and benefits. The teabags themselves are made from biodegradable Zein fibre, which was important to me – it’s convenience, but not at a cost to the environment.

It’s been the same process of development for every product in the range. I start with the product idea and blend it in my kitchen with the ingredients I choose. So say my Chi Fit Sleep Tea Blend – I didn’t like the taste of chamomile, so I blended 11 ingredients to get it to a lovely mint/rose flavour, but with body and a calming soothing effect.

It was the same with the Turmeric latte. I started with high-grade turmeric powder and blended it with non-dairy creamer and eight extracts, such as lotus leaf, cactus plant etc. So it has a lovely soft vanilla-like taste – nothing like turmeric – but it has all of turmeric’s benefits.

Why did you add a healthy eating plan?

I decided to get this developed so customers could also look at ways to improve other aspects of their life, such as health and fitness. I developed it with a nutritionist and it also contains 14 delicious recipes

In the testimonials on our website, customers say the Original Tea Blend helps reduce hunger, sugar cravings and aids digestion. It gives a great natural energy boost, which allows you to be more active in your everyday life. So if you drink the tea and follow our healthy eating plan, your overall health and fitness will improve and this will help you with your individual goals of being your best self.

But you can just drink it as a normal tea, too!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

I think initially, it was developing something that I needed myself. And then, as friends and family tried my blend, they loved the taste and noticed the health and fitness benefits. Some were even able to reduce eight cups of regular tea or coffee down to more moderate one or two. That’s a huge improvement.

I even have a Chi Fit coffee, so it’s not that I’m against anything. It’s more helping people to make small changes in their lives, like I did; to help them become healthier. If I can help even one person to feel more energised or sleep better – well then, I go to bed thinking: “I’ve done something good today,” and it’s incredibly satisfying.

What inspires you?

People. I love people and I love helping people.

I’ve always wanted to own my own business, ever since I was a child really, and I’ve had a few successes and false starts. But I’ve learnt something from each one.

Also, now I’m focused on my family and I’d like to have more of a balance in my own life.

I think I’ve found my passion in Chi Fit and I have so many ideas around new products for the future. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time.

I do have to sometimes listen to advice when given advice and try to slow down a bit and do one thing at a time!

What has been the hardest part about setting up your own business?

The hardest thing? Well, it’s time. It’s finite and if you want to make a business work, you’ve got to go full speed ahead and that may mean some sacrifice, meetings or tastings at the weekend, which take away from family time and time with friends.

But I always say to my children: “I’m sorry. I’ll be gone this Saturday, but you know I’m working on my tea and I’m doing my best for us all.” I think they get it and they love popping along to a tasting event and seeing mummy there with her stand!

I think if I’m written about online or in a magazine, then they will be really proud! (Kids, be proud!!!! – 50Sense.)

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of showing my children that you can do what you love and if you work hard – whether that was my job or my PhD – and do your best, it pays off.

Nothing comes easy so you’ve got to put everything you have into what you want to achieve, no matter how big or small.

I’d been doing a tasting event one Saturday and I came home and my daughter had set up a little shop outside our house! Everything was €1/£1 and she had put signs up and was selling little things she had made herself.

She was shy, so she left an honesty box and passers-by left money for her. But she was overjoyed that she had made some money and it was wonderful that complete strangers had bought things.

That was one of my “wow” moments; of: “Maybe she was inspired a little by me.”  And in return, I was so inspired by her.

As well as that, one of my proudest moments was seeing my product on the shelf of my first retailer in Dublin and getting 200 online orders after an influencer posted that she loved the tea. That was February 2018 and I’d only launched the business a month before. And then I had my third baby a couple of weeks later.

It was crazy, but amazing. I thought: “I’m on to something.”

And finally, what advice would you give to women wanting to start their own business?

Go for it!!! Figure out what you’re passionate about, research the market, ask people what they think and then start to work away on developing your concept.

I’ve always worked full-time so whether doing my PhD part-time or developing a business, it was always in the evening or at weekends, in my own time. So make the time and just get started.

Stay committed. Don’t give up at the first hurdle or think: “Oh, this won’t work.” Keep going and believe in yourself.

It’s critical to have confidence in yourself. And if you can find a product or service you believe in, that you’re passionate about, that will shine through. People buy from people so if you aren’t passionate about it, how will anyone else be?

My first business idea was making and selling candles at 16 in local markets to family and friends – and given how popular candles are now, I probably should have skipped the 14 years in college and stuck with them!

But seriously, I believe things happen for a reason and I’m ready to run and grow Chi Fit more than I’ve ever been before.

And I’m a little older and wiser – I hope –  and maybe a little more confident and don’t care as much about what people think of me.

You’ve one life so live it to the full. Do what you love and you will never work another day in your life – that’s my new motto.

What do you think of Ros’s story? Isn’t she great! Leave her a “hello” in the comments below.

Additional photo: Jill O’Meara Photography

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