Tania Lodi – From Struggles to Success, Tania’s Teahouse in Dubai

Meet Tania Lodi, the founder of Tania’s Teahousefounder. Tania was born in the United States and grew up in Dubai. She studied psychology at the University of Toronto. In this interview, Tania talks about her journey from dealing with an autoimmune disorder to opening a wellness café in Dubai. She was inspired by the health benefits of tea and her love for mindfulness. At the age of 23, she opened Tania’s Teahouse to create a place for people looking for healthy and holistic options. Tania explains how her own health struggles shaped the menu, her commitment to offering nutritious and inclusive choices, and how her brand has grown over time.

What motivated you to start Tania’s Teahouse? How has your own health journey shaped the menu?

I opened Tania’s Teahouse because I was struggling with a tough autoimmune disease. I looked into holistic health since I didn’t want to rely on a lot of medication. I found solace in teas and inclusive eating, especially in the case of dairy- and gluten-free products. Observing my food intake inspired me to open a café for those with dietary needs or health concerns, such as myself. My goal was to create a secure environment while entertainingly educating people about the health benefits of plants and herbs.

How has your purpose changed since Tania’s Teahouse first opened?

When I was perhaps 22 or 23 years old, I started this. It was my first work, and every day I continue to learn. It was challenging to address many health issues and adjust to various dietary needs, preferences, and tastes. I’ve enjoyed trying out new ingredients and flavors, keeping up with market trends, and being open to using ingredients that are good for health. We’re dedicated to making sure everyone can find something they like from what we offer.

How does the design of the new flagship location at Dubai Hills compare to the previous one?

I wanted to make a place that’s cozy but also stylish and more sophisticated than our previous location. Our old branch opened five years ago, and since then, my tastes have changed, and I’ve matured along with the brand. I aimed to create a comforting yet beautiful atmosphere. We used elements of Scandinavian design and added touches of soft colors while keeping it mostly neutral. We also included lots of comfy ceramics and mixed in some unique decor pieces.

Can you describe the specific improvements and unique features that set apart the new location from the old one?

Firstly, we have a restaurant license instead of a café license. Our space is now twice as big, and our kitchen is also twice as large, which is fantastic. We bake all our bread on-site now. We have three event areas: this tea room, two other event rooms, and a larger dining area. We can serve alcohol and have unique cocktails infused with tea. Our menu has been updated for both daytime and nighttime dining, and we stay open until late now.

What are the special health advantages of the ingredients in the updated drinks menu, especially the functional mushrooms?

We use a lot of functional mushrooms in our food. These mushrooms, known as adaptogens, help your body handle stress better, which is good for your overall well-being. For example, our chicken dish includes cordyceps mushrooms, which boosts energy and focus. Our passionfruit creme brûlée also has mushrooms that help you relax. We also offer mushroom lattes with different types of mushrooms, each offering health benefits.

Does Tania’s Teahouse being known as ‘the most Instagram-worthy cafe’ prevent its main mission from reaching people?

I enjoy creating spaces that look great on Instagram, but more importantly, I believe in using aesthetics to make a positive impact. Our interiors are designed to help you feel at ease, offering a sanctuary from daily stresses where you can feel safe and happy. Instagram plays a role in this by promoting well-being, rather than just being about looks. 

Not everyone will understand our approach, and that’s okay—you can’t please everyone. But our loyal customers appreciate that we’re more than just a pretty cafe; we focus on every detail to enhance their experience and promote a sense of well-being. It’s not just about how the place looks; it’s about the overall atmosphere and how our team interacts with customers. This connection goes beyond surface-level aesthetics.

How do you manage running Tania’s Teahouse while also taking care of your personal health and well-being?

Life can be overwhelming sometimes, but I’ve learned to use my personal health journey positively. Dealing with lupus, an autoimmune disease, brings daily pain and discomfort. Despite this challenge, I’m motivated to turn something difficult into something good. My business means a lot to me because it’s personal and keeps me going. We’re planning to expand and franchise, and I want to be involved in opening new branches and supporting the operations team. I aim to stay engaged but on a larger scale.

What role do you see Tania’s Teahouse playing in the community?

When I was in university, I enjoyed going to different cafes to study. When I opened Tania’s Teahouse, I noticed there weren’t many places where people could comfortably go alone with their laptops or books. I wanted my cafe to be welcoming for anyone who wanted to come by themselves and relax with a book. We’ve had customers come to sketch, listen to Zoom calls and more. That’s why we made sure to have lots of plug points, excellent Wi-Fi, and a cozy atmosphere where everyone can feel at home, just like in their own living room.

What important message do you want customers, fellow entrepreneurs, or people dealing with similar challenges to learn from Tania’s Teahouse?

Setting a healthy nervous system as a top priority is crucial for everyone. Our strategy centers on the sustainable use of plants, adaptogens, and herbs to promote well-being. Often, we get caught up in the fast pace of modern life and forget to listen to what our bodies really need. It’s crucial to start with a healthy nervous system as a foundation before considering other measures of success. This helps ensure that we can handle stress and challenges better, making it easier to achieve overall well-being.

Incorporating this can be tough, but it’s also why autoimmune diseases, anxiety, and depression are on the rise. I want to remind everyone that it’s possible and can last. Adding a bit of cordyceps mushroom powder to your coffee, where you won’t even taste it, can boost your focus for the day. Trying ashwagandha root or cutting down on gluten if it bothers you can also help. We aim to introduce this lifestyle in a way that’s not scary but easy to stick with for the long term.

Also, read: 𝗠𝗼𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗱 𝗔𝗹𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗶 – 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗠𝗢𝗗 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀

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