Q & A with HannaH Mills, Owner of NEAKITA
Where do you call home?
I’m originally from Northern California, but today live in Southern California so I guess you could say I'm a California girl through and through. I’ve lived with the ocean for most of my life and I feel boundless amounts of gratitude for that.
What led you to pursue a career as a tea maker?
In my first career I was an international winemaker. I traveled all over the world making wine and growing vines for some of the most renowned wineries and vineyards. It was an incredible life. I thought I had found the winning lotto ticket when it came to career paths! There was so much to be grateful for at that time – I was succeeding in my dream career, I had a boyfriend I loved, I was traveling the world, but here’s the truth bomb: on the inside I was a total mess. I was suffering from depression, severe hormone imbalances and adrenal fatigue. I didn’t understand why all of this was happening, but looking back now, I see that it was simply the Universe sending me a message: “You’re not living your truth, darling. You need to slow down and reconnect, but since you’re not doing it I’m going to make you do it.” And as always, the Universe won! So I took a huge risk. Right when I was being offered two of the most epic jobs a girl could ask for, I decided to decline both to go back to school and study holistic nutrition, meditation, and metaphysics. It was time for a life reboot and my goodness did it happen! Nourishing my mind and body became my absolute priority and once I started I couldn’t get enough! Fast forward a few years later and BOOM – here I am living a life beyond my wildest dreams as the proud creator of NEAKITA. I count my blessings everyday.
Where did your passion for tea come from?
For as long as I can remember I drank tea, but it never lit me up. It was just a warm beverage to enjoy when I felt chilly. It wasn’t until I went to Peru that my curiosity and love affair truly began. Growing up I only knew about black tea, green tea – the basics. In Peru, I stayed with a friend who grew up on an organic farm in Lima and one day she had a stomach ache. Her mom put cinnamon sticks into boiling water to create a tonic remedy – it smelt divine so of course I had to try some. The purity, the richness – I was amazed. My body felt incredible and my senses were dancing – I was hooked! The next morning my friend steeped lemongrass by doing the same thing: she simply threw some fresh lemongrass into a pot of boiling water. It was a beautiful tisane – the aromatics were exploding out of my cup. I know this sounds like a common sense technique but it blew my mind! It had me begin to wonder what other age-old remedies there must be out there. I’ve been studying, steeping, sipping and experimenting ever since!
How did NEAKITA come to be?
When I first walked away from winemaking and into holistic health I completely turned my back on wine. Not only did I stop making wine, but I stopped drinking wine – in fact I stopped drinking alcohol completely. But one day I had an urge inside of me – I realized I still had a deep rooted passion for experimenting with flavors, balance and structure. Blending is an art form I spent years studying and I was yearning for it again. I began to play with kombucha brewing and I enjoyed it, but tea – there’s something special about tea! Maybe it’s all of the ancient wisdom instilled in it – I have Native American in my blood so the idea of bringing ancestral remedies to modern day go-getters excites me!
The first blend I made was for a dear friend of mine. She was struggling with anxiety attacks and I wanted to help calm her nervous system. She came back in awe of the effects the tea had on her and asked for more. That tea is now called Freedom. This same story kept happening where my loved ones would come to me with an ailment and leave with a curative tea. It filled my soul up to bring light into people’s darkness – it still does. I believe in listening to signs and this felt like my calling. It was the unique bridge between my two passions – creating intoxicating flavors and designing therapeutic remedies. One thing led to the next and NEAKITA was born!
How did you come up with the name NEAKITA?
I am a Cherokee-Choctaw Native American so using an ancestral name seemed fitting. A Neakita is a Native American wild rose, white with five petals and a golden center. Legend goes, where a mother’s tear hits the earth this wild rose will grow – a sign from The Great One to show her that there is still great beauty left in the world . Today, Neakitas grow wild on the Trail of Tears to serve as a reminder of the past and also serve as a symbol of hope for the future.
What is the most important component of creating your teas?
That it’s a complete sensorial experience! My intention is always to enchant both the mind and body. The tea must smell and taste incredible, but it also has to FEEL euphoric!
What is your perfect cup of tea?
That totally depends on the day! I believe our bodies know exactly what they need to nourish themselves and it’s up to us to listen and respond. So I let my nose decide what my perfect cup of tea will be. I usually smell a few teas and pick the one that stands out to me. But I must admit that lately I’ve been all about the Wisdom blend! It’s an organic brain tea with Ginkgo, Gotu Kola and Cinnamon. It’s heavenly with some pasture-raised butter and coconut oil stirred in. I swear this is the organic version of adderall! Crazy focus happens after that little ritual.
What is your ideal weekend?
I’m simple. I love a good lay-low weekend. A good book, coconut oil/lavender baths, journaling, beach walks with my puppy, soul sister chats, swims in the ocean, yoga and lots and lots of tea.