S05E06: Emilie Chung, Co-founder of Sinellia Tea, China

Something we are quite proud of is our tea business. So we are the proud co-founders of a little brand called Sinellia Tea and it’s really a passion project. It’s not something that pays the bills or anything at this point, to be honest. But it came from a passion that was also a very spontaneous thing. I remember when we started living in China, and we met in a bar with our thermos of tea!

Emilie chung

Today’s episode is about an entrepreneur who has been living in China for the past 12 years, Emilie Chung. I was introduced to Emilie by Daniel Yeo of Alive Consultancy (Singapore) so a big round of appreciation to Daniel for this connection. 

Emilie is more than just an entrepreneur. Like most women, she wears multiple hats and works in multiple roles. 

Emilie Chung is the co-founder of Sinellia Tea, a business she started with her Colombian husband whom she had met when they were both drinking tea in a bar in China!

She is also a business consultant with GNAK Consulting as its China office manager where services include company culture, executive governance, organizational structure, business model, and strategic planning. If that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also teaches international business as a university teacher in Guangdong, China. 

emilie chung sinellia tea guangdong china
Emilie says that “Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to it.”  

In this episode we spoke about how she started her tea business and why and the tea myths you should know about before you buy your next stash of Chinese tea, why China holds so much magic for her, becoming a mother at 41, making decisions, growth mindsets, expectations of women, self-development and happiness lessons. 

So we started making workshops for foreign friends in order for them to understand better what Chinese tea is. And then it became a whole thing where we would do, do it once a month or twice a month. And then we decided to create a brand around it. 

Emilie has a fascinating story of discovery and exploration. While her father is Chinese and she bears a Chinese surname, Chung, Emilie didn’t know much about China nor spoke Chinese when she was growing up in France.

She decided to visit China and when she arrived, she immediately felt at home. At 30, she decided she wanted to stay in China and learn about the homeland she didn’t know about and in the process, learnt to speak Mandarin, find joy in its culture and people and built not just a life but also fell in love and got married to a man who loved being in China as much as she did.

She also became a mother recently and she shares openly about the pressure for women to have children. 

For the past 12 years, Emilie started from scratch, building a life, career, business and family. She said that the decisions in her life were tough and confusing to make but helped her become who she is today – a business owner, mother, wife, teacher and coach. The small decisions paved way for bigger ones. She acknowledges that she has learnt to make better decisions and she shares her tips in this interview. 

She is always inspired by her family, friends and loved ones. She is also thankful for her students and clients. 

“People I meet randomly that shine a new light on something I didn’t know about. I love meeting people and learning something new from them, even when I’m supposed to be the teacher, the coach or the consultant,” says Emilie. 

Sometimes the things that you don’t plan are the things that you naturally tend towards, and those are the ones you should go for, you know, just seize the opportunities without trying to plan too far ahead and see where they take you. And that’s what I did. 

Oddly though she remarks she always blanks out totally when asked about her favourite books and music, despite loving books and music and movies so much.

She managed to list out a few of her favourites – “love magical realism in the vein of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Arundathi Roy, two very inspiring Indian authors.”

She gravitates toward French poetry such as Baudelaire, Verlaine and Apollinaire. 

“My mom gave me the love of British classics – Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (in general I love detective stories),” Emilie says. 

As for music, she enjoys classical music, rock classics and pop/folk or “very recent artists whom I discovered on Youtube.” 

When she is not reading, she can be found indulging in Korean movies such as The Handmaid Kingdom – “so beautifully crafted and with such good plot twists.”

She loves French cinema even though she admits not knowing the New Wave half as well as she should. “I loved some recent Wes Andersen movies: The French Dispatch, The Isle of Dogs and the earlier Fantastic Mr Fox. I love stop-motion animation like Wallace and Gromit or Svankmaier’s shorts.”

She’s most proud that she had the courage to move to China when she was 30. Other milestones in her life include “getting out of my comfort zone and deciding to have a baby at 41 years old.” She is proud she took it upon herself to become a certified coach with the ICF (International Coach Federation).

Connect with her:
https://sinelliatea.com (Tea website), @sinellia_tea (Tea business, Instagram),
https://www.gnak.fr (Consulting website) 

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