Kathy YL Chan

We can't rave about Kathy YL Chan enough. She's effortless and impressive at the same time, and has what we think is an ideal freelance life -- she writes about tea, hotels, and desserts for various publications, consults for culinary brands, and she is an expert on all things tea. From top quality matcha to the best afternoon tea services all over the world, Kathy never leads us astray. We're lucky to call her a friend, and even luckier that she is the main source for all our tea needs. We recently spent an afternoon with Kathy while she brewed (and casually taught us all about) three kinds of tea, and treated us to sweets from Lady M, one of the brands she consults for. 

How did you get into tea in the first place? 
Tea has always been a big part of my daily life, so what I do today (consulting with brands on tea-related projects, writing about, teaching, and sourcing tea), feels very natural. The work opportunities I've been lucky to receive come from a fortunate mixture of hard work and chance encounters.

What is your ideal dessert? 
Madeleines, straight from the oven and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Name your favorite travel destination, and some noteworthy places there.
Honolulu. It's where I was born and raised, but also my favorite place to travel. Honolulu is the perfect balance of city and country with a vibrant sense of place. I live for the abundance of fresh seafood and local specialities like ahi poke, laulau, and lomilomi salmon...all with a side of rice. I love eating at the bar of Izakaya Gaku and Sushi ii, sipping sunset cocktails at House Without a Key, and having afternoon tea at Orchids and Moana Surfrider.

And since you travel so much, what are some of your favorite hotels you've stayed in? 
There are many fabulous hotels in the world, but I love Hôtel de Paris in Monaco for the glamour, Mandarin Oriental New York for the energy, Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes for the beauty, and Halekulani in Honolulu...because, how could you not love the Halekulani?

Cakes from Lady M, one of the culinary brands Kathy consults for. 

What do you never travel without -- the objects, products, and rituals that make your travel experiences more enjoyable.
A good book (which I always leave behind in a hotel bar, hoping that the next reader will enjoy it just as much). My little black planner which never leaves my side. A bottle of sparkling water. 

What are your favorite beauty products, and the extra steps (if any) that make you feel especially polished?
Facial mist -- Evian and/or AmorePacific.

What are your wardrobe staples? Your treasured pieces?
Three items, all in black:
 - A jumpsuit made of wool, form fitting but not tight
 - A silk dress that hits at the knee
 - A crepe robe that can be worn indoors and out

What are the extra fancy things you splurge on?
Hotel bathrobes

What's your favorite way to entertain?
Simple is best. Just close friends, champagne, and a few favorite savory foods -- uni, boquerones, and my own tea-cured salmon. 

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? 
So many things! A few off the top of my head: 
 - Creating tea and afternoon tea programs for hotels and lifestyle brands
 - Making sure those who are passionate about tea have access to the most interesting and beautiful teas and teaware in the world
 - Celebrating life ^-^