We’ve always been a huge fan of tea, and the feeling that comes from pouring a cup and sitting down to savor it with a friend, ideally on a deep comfy couch. You naturally slow down, take a breath, you pull your legs underneath you, and you just, relax. This was where the name of our series Tea Time with… comes from (incase you were wondering). A few months ago, Shiva Rose told us about her tea practice, calling it a ceremony and inviting us into her custom tea house. Then we heard about a tea ceremony series happening in Venice, CA, and we realized this was a trend and we had to learn more. Turns out the series we had been hearing about is lead by tea creator, Hannah Mills. We were connected with Mills through our photographer friend Kristine Lo (who also took the gorgeous pictures below).
Mills radiates light, and she’s made it her mission to introduce the world to the power of healing teas. Her ethically crafted tea line, NEAKITA pinpoints everyday health and wellness concerns like menstrual cramps and stress, as well as introduces an element of spiritual cleansing. Through her tea practice and LA-based tea ceremonies, Mills provides nourishment for herself, her friends, and her family, she discovers her suppressed Native American ancestry, and gives back to the Earth in gratitude and an alliance with Trees for the Future. We loved sitting down with Hannah to learn about her journey and how she ended up finding her passion in tea ceremonies, so grab a cup and get inspired:
The Moment Hi Hannah! How are you and where are you? We picture you drinking tea 🙂
Mills: Hi! It’s finally feeling like fall here in Los Angeles so I am taking full advantage of the moment – I’m sitting on my living room floor with a warm pot of wisdom tea, candles lit, sweater on + finally connecting with my breath after a full day.
The Moment: Can you introduce us to NEAKITA?
Mills: NEAKITA is my healing offering to the world in the form of tea. It’s a conscious collection of ancient tea blends that are designed to bring the mind and body back to a state of balance. Through the ritual of sipping these teas, we slow down and restore our connection to the earth. This connection is a gentle reminder to pause and take care of ourselves. I hand blend each tea with love in Venice, California.
The Moment: Why tea? What inspired you to create a tea practice and where did you learn about tea?
Mills: My love for tea developed naturally along the various paths I’ve journeyed down. In my first career, I made wine and grew vines internationally for renowned wineries and vineyards. It was a beautiful way of life. When I went to New Zealand to work on a Biodynamic farm and vineyard, my whole world shifted in a way I didn’t anticipate. I think this is when I woke up spiritually and became curious about the deeper meaning of life. Every day we would eat food straight from the garden and farm and I started to become more interested in learning about food and health than I did about wine. At first, it was just an interest, and then it felt like an undeniable calling. Around the same time, I was offered two of the most desirable jobs, and I declined both to go back to school and study holistic nutrition, meditation, and metaphysics. After graduating, I co-founded a private health coaching practice which was rewarding, but it wasn’t fulfilling my deep-rooted passion for experimenting with flavors, balance, and structure. Blending is an art form I spent years refining and I was yearning for it again. Creating tea was a way for me to express my art, but this time in a way that I believed truly nourished people. 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.
The Moment: Where did the name NEAKITA come from and what does it mean?
Mills: I am a Cherokee-Choctaw Native American so using an ancestral name was important to me. A neakita is a Native American wild rose, white with five petals and a golden center. As legend goes, where a mother’s tear hits the earth, this wild rose will grow – a sign from The Great One to remind her of her strength and all of the beauty that is still left in the world. These are the ethos upon which I created NEAKITA. These teas are intended to bring us back home to ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s an invitation for us to slow down and remember that even on the most stressful of days, there is beauty all around us.
The Moment: What does a NEAKITA tea ceremony look like? What can one expect?
Mills: A NEAKITA tea ceremony is a time to slow down and receive. In a small and intimate group, we sit together in meditation, reconnect with our breath and receive the tea’s offering. As the herbs heal the body, the experience heals the mind and spirit. In our most recent ceremony, tears of joy rolled down a woman’s face, because she experienced a breakthrough in her relationship with her family and could finally forgive them. Another woman stated this was the most comfortable she had felt in a room full of people that should feel like strangers, and realized that she was much more supported in her life than she entered the room believing. So while most of the ceremony is silent, there is a lot happening and the experience is really personal. You feel the support of the earth and the sisters around you and you slow down long enough to finally hear yourself and reconnect with who you are and what you really want in life. Each time is a different experience, not because of what is happening on the outside, but because of what is occurring on the inside. It’s such a beautiful moment to be a part of. If you would like to attend one, I update the schedule here.
The Moment: Can you tell us about each of the teas you offer?
Freedom is our stress-relief tea with rose petals, lavender, chamomile, peppermint and oat straw. It soothes the central nervous system to evoke a calm sensation throughout the mind and body. Intended for when you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or feeling overwhelmed.
Wisdom is our brain tea with ginkgo, gotu kola, cardamom, ginger, licorice root, lemon verbena, and cinnamon. It assists with focus, clarity + memory enhancement. Intended for when you need a mental boost without caffeine.
Strength is our immunity tea with spicy ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, peppermint, and black pepper. It strengthens the body’s natural immune system by revving up your digestive and metabolic fire. This is the perfect tea to sip on when you feel run down or under the weather. If you feel something coming on, drink this throughout the day and it usually does the trick. It’s also a great post-meal digestive.
Purity is our detox tea with lemon peel, dandelion leaf, stinging nettle, lemongrass, ginger, and peppermint. This tea helps bring your body back into balance so you can glow from the inside out. Intended for when you are experiencing cravings, bloat, or a breakout.
Grace is our woman’s moon tea with kava kava, cramp bark, sarsaparilla, sassafras, and licorice root. Cramp bark and kava kava is an age-old Native American remedy that works well to soothe cramps and menstrual malaise. Intended to be had in place of an Advil or Midol for PMS cramps. It’s also a beautiful tea to unwind with before bed.
Rose [E] is our dream manifestation tea with earl grey tea, pink rose buds, red rose petals, lavender, and rose geranium essential oil. This is the first tea in our new Directions Collection which is based on the Native American Medicine Wheel. This beautiful floral tea represents the eastern pillar of the wheel. East is the direction from which the sun rises, spring blossoms + new days begin. Our rose tea is intended to be enjoyed as an offering to the eastern winds for the courage + guidance to cultivate your most meaningful dreams.
Mills: My current mission is to continue creating healing moments for people through the ritual of NEAKITA teas. As people receive the nourishment of the earth through their cup of tea, NEAKITA simultaneously replenishes the earth by planting trees. For every tea sold, a tree is planted through Trees for the Future. Trees for the Future travels to impoverished farming communities all over the world to provide four year programs for farmers to learn how to use sustainable farming practices. In many of these areas, the farmer’s main objective is survival and they often turn to the use of chemicals, because they think this is the only way to accomplish their goals. Trees for the Future rewrites this paradigm so they can get up to ten times more from the land while concurrently substituting their chemicals for sustainable farming methods.
My greatest dream is for NEAKITA to provide Native Americans with a platform to express their voices and share their stories and wisdom. I believe this is a positive way to reinstate the respect and honor that indigenous peoples deserve. We have much to learn from them and my goal is to create a respected platform for them to do so effectively while ensuring they are regarded with reverence. One of my first contributions to this cause is the recent launch of the Directions Collection which is based on the Native American Medicine Wheel. I recently released Rose, the first tea in this collection, and I will continue to release the others slowly over time. This is just the beginning of the conversation and education I hope to provide.
The Moment: When did you acquire this connection to Native American culture and what is the Native American Medicine Wheel?
Mills: Native American is in my blood. I am Choctaw and Cherokee. My mother grew up in Oklahoma near the Choctaw reservation. My grandfather was the generation of kids that were unwillingly sent to the American boarding school to forcefully strip the Native American culture out of them. Family was forbidden to visit him and unfortunately for us all, this was devastatingly effective. I grew up going to some pow wows, but for the most part, I have lived a life quite removed from my heritage. NEAKITA is, in part, a personal pilgrimage to rediscover this stolen piece of who I am.
The Medicine Wheel has been used by generations of Native Americans for health and healing. The pillars of the Medicine Wheel and the Circle of Life are the cardinal directions. It’s a complex topic to summarize, but the directions, most simply, correlate with east, south, west, north and the fifth direction is at the center. However, each direction represents much more than that: East is spiritual, south is emotional, west is physical, north is mental, and the fifth direction is the sacred space within. These directions create everything we are and everything we experience – Seasons, universal elements, the different parts of living beings, and every other part of life. Beginning in the east and flowing in the sun-wise direction, we establish balance by syncing with the rhythm of life.
The Moment: At The Moment, we believe that the three pillars of beauty are the products we use, the food we put in our body, and the way we treat ourselves through our wellness practices. How do these pillars define beauty for you and how do we see each of them in NEAKITA?
Mills: My primary wellness practice is to listen to my body. What I put on my skin varies depending on how it feels. Sometimes it needs a little extra love and sometimes it just needs to be left alone. I listen and adapt accordingly. Same for food. I’m a big believer in intuitive eating and intuitive living. Our bodies are perfectly designed to tell us exactly what they need and it’s up to us to listen and honor the requests. For example, when I am in the mood for tea, I smell each one and choose the one I am most drawn to. This allows me to intuitively decide which herbs my body needs in that moment. There’s a lot of information constantly being transmitted to us, we just have to slow down and listen.
As consumers, we have a lot of power. Every time we buy something, we vote with our dollar. Therefore the products we choose to use are far more significant than the impact they make for us personally. People spoke up about the importance of organic farming, and now massive corporations are transitioning over, not because they want to or it’s convenient, but because they have to in order to survive. Every time I have an opportunity to choose between organic and natural versus conventional and chemical, the choice is easy, because it’s way bigger than me. My highest priority is always quality. Every flower, leaf, and root used in NEAKITA teas are organic, fair trade, or ethically wild harvested. And for every tea sold, we have a tree planted through Trees for the Future. Sometimes I think we forget that the products we consume come from the earth and that we have to replenish what we take.
The Moment: What other practices and products help you facilitate your daily wellness rituals?
- Meditation. The goal is 20 minutes a day, but even if that doesn’t happen, I always connect with my breath at some point during the day.
- The Secret Language of Animals Oracle Deck. I pull a card most mornings and it’s seemingly always just what I need to be reminded of that day. I also carry it around with me in my bag in case I need some guidance throughout the day.
- Baths. When I’m having a run-down moment, a bath always seems to nurture me back.
- Tea and adaptogens. (No surprise there!)
- Hot yoga.
- Friends and family. No matter what’s going on or how busy I get, I always make time for friends and family. I think loving connection is the most important aspect of wellness.
The Moment: How do you stay in the moment?
Mills: By connecting with my breath.
Special thanks to Hannah Mills!
Photo by Kristine Lo