Written by Chantel DaCosta

From Hobby to Business: Iyashi Herbs


Meet Jamaica’s tea lady, Nadya Forbes. After a stint in Japan as an English language teaching assistant, Nadya fell in love with tea-making. Today she shares her journey from being a lover of tea and brewing blends at home, to being the owner of Iyashi Herbs.

What sparked your interest in herbalism and tea making? Are you self-taught?

While living in Japan for four years, I developed an interest in the art of tea making and a love for different types of herbal teas. I have been actively researching and learning about teas and herbs ever since.

What made you take mixology and making teas more seriously and make a career out of it?

After years of purchasing packaged tea bags, then being introduced to the culture of loose leaf teas in Japan, I decided that I wanted to add my own flavours and style to the teas I drank daily. I started by creating different herbal tea blends for myself and my loved ones. This then developed into a desire to share my concoctions with the rest of the world. Iyashi Herbs was birthed in 2013 from a fusion of Japanese and Jamaican tea culture.

What is the meaning behind the name Iyashi?

Iyashi is a Japanese word which means to heal, treat, remove pain, or quench one’s thirst.  It is suggestive of a place of warm solace and restoration, where one comes to find peace, balance and harmony.

What were your biggest challenges to date, and how have you addressed them?

My biggest challenge since starting my business has been juggling working full-time and dedicating the time necessary to nurture and grow a small business. The first few years were a struggle, but I learnt many valuable lessons along the way and now that I am able to focus solely on the growth and development of my business I have no doubts that things will only get better from here on out.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

I am currently fascinated by the interest in herbal teas and products, as well as holistic wellness that is taking place in Jamaica. This awareness and importance of self-care and self-healing that is spreading around the island plays a crucial role in how Iyashi Herbs will be able to position itself in the near future.

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?

Patience is a virtue. No matter how hard things may seem and how long it may take to achieve your goals, never give up. Be patient and work diligently. Your time will come when the time is right.

Do you have a specific research process when you start creating a new blend?

I work primarily with intuition. This may spark from a personal need for healing or from a request from a client. Other factors like the time of the year or month and the availability of herbs.

What advice would you give to other hobbyists who want to transition into a business?

Take your time and do as much research as you can in the beginning stages, and, you won’t regret it. Seek out mentors who can help to motivate and encourage you along the way.

To date, what has been the most memorable Iyashi Herbs experience?

So far, I would have to say my most memorable Iyashi Herbs experience was in February 2014 when I got the opportunity to officially launch my business on TVJ’s Smile Jamaica Morning Show. That moment solidified for me that you can turn your dream into reality. 

Where do you get your materials/supplies?

I try to source local materials and supplies as often as possible by working with local farmers, growing my own herbs.

Where do you see the business in five years?

In five years, I see Iyashi Herbs providing its products and services across the island in the form of customized herbal tea blends, regular tea service at tea ceremonies and wellness events.  


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