TV’s Rhoda tunes into Tiree Tea

Rhoda Meek brews up a new tea business on Tiree with her faithful sheepdog Gunna by her side.

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Finding time for a cup of tea is no mean feat when you are juggling croft life on Tiree with a day job in IT, but beverage entrepreneur Rhoda Meek has just made it her business to do all of that.

Rhoda, who moved to the island several years ago, is one of the characters whose daily lives are being followed in an observational documentary on BBC ALBA.

Na Tiristich – From Tiree with Love still has two more episodes to run on a Tuesday at 8pm and the programmes will be available on BBC  iPlayer for 30 days after they air so there is time to catch up with the series.

In the show, made over six months between June to December  last year, Rhoda hinted at brewing up a new venture which post-filming has turned into Tiree Tea.

Rhoda, 37, whose dad came from Tiree, had no crofting experience when she moved to the old family plot on the island, where she also keeps Hebridean sheep and has a collie dog she trained herself called Gunna.

When a big software contract ended, Rhoda looked for a new opportunity.

Still freelancing for software companies and starting Isle20.com, a new directory linking up almost 450 businesses across the islands and an online marketplace selling more than 1,000 island-made products,  Rhoda has also now launched  Tiree Tea.

‘I’d been growing veg and selling it locally for beer money but I’d always fancied having a go at making tea because of all the nettles and mint that grow here. As yet none of the ingredients come from Tiree, that is something else for the future, but the blend is unique to my specification and is owned by me. It’s made specially by a tea maker in Kent,’ she said.

During the Covid crisis, Rhoda had kept the online shop open (www.tireetea.co.uk), dispatching orders with her weekly essential shopping trip, and despite lockdown her tea has made it as far as America.

Inspired by life on Tiree, the plastic-free teabags come in four varieties – the Crofter Breakfast Tea has a picture on its box of the little grey Fergie tractor bought by her grandfather in 1947, and the  mint and nettle herbal infusion is fondly called Tilley after the turbine that powers community programmes on the island.

Back to the small screen, programme three of Na Tiristich – From Tiree with Love will see Rhoda taking her lambs to a sale and will have more from Tiree Music Festival.  Gordon Connell, who has been teaching accordion on the island for 50  years, features along with Stewart Maclennan and Skerryvore’s Daniel Gillespie, and there will be a meeting with Tiree musicians and entrepreneurs Ian Smith and Alain Campbell from Trail West who have set up Tyree Gin.

The Tiree Wave Classic features in episode four and a visit to the island of Lunga with Frazer and Donnie Macinnes from Tiree Sea Tours also plays  a part in the final instalment.