In Bed With... Daphne of Three Gems Tea

Moonlit's In Bed With... Series is a collection of intimate interviews with tastemakers, core-shakers, and the people we love. We explore what keeps them up at night, in addition to their sleep secrets.

Woman weating a yellow fress sitting in front if a mustard background

Name: Daphne Wu
Location: Oakland, CA
Sum up the mission of Three Gems Tea: We believe in the everyday magic of a shared tea break. More than just sharing a sip, it’s a chance to kick back and catch up! Our first collection focuses on the communal tea culture of Chaozhou gong fu tea.
IG handle / website: @threegemstea /
One word that best describes how you work: collaboratively

Your Kickstarter campaign was such a big success, raising over 150% of the initial goal. That’s no small feat! Can you share with us your insights about your decision to launch a KS campaign and what was one key method that helped make it so successful?

Thanks! Yeah we all felt like a Kickstarter campaign would be the best way to raise funds, launch our brand, and more importantly get the word out about this relatively unknown tea culture. Test the waters a bit if you will. Kickstarter would also give us a chance to share our story visually. Huge thanks to all of the talented folks who helped us make everything look great—I think that contributed a lot to our success.

Three Gems Tea tea set

Tell us how you came up with the name “Three Gems Tea”?

We started out knowing we wanted the number three as that happens to be a magic number of sorts in Chaozhou gong fu tea culture. There they believe tea is best enjoyed with three people because the word for “taste” looks like three mouths. Plus there happened to be the three of us. Then we discovered that across quite a few cultures and faiths, the concept of three gems or three jewels is a way to sum up and share what’s most important in life. That really clicked with us and helped shape our three gems for drinking tea: Sip the good stuff. Enjoy with company. Take your sweet time.

Three women raising their tea cups in cheers

How were you three connected? Tell us about how you divvy up roles/tasks?

I had mulled over this idea to start a tea company after traveling the Silk Road a few years back. In just about every country I ventured through, I experienced tea as communal hospitality and really wanted to bring that spirit into American tea culture. After I returned, I actually bought Diana’s cookbook Jia! The Food of Swatow and the Teochew Diaspora seeking to learn more about my Teochew/Chaozhou heritage and met her on her book tour. We instantly connected over wanting to share the communal and casual Teochew gong fu tea culture. For Ayumi, I was seeking a designer who could translate across cultures, and found one of her beautiful illustrations in a magazine. When I reached out to both of them, it was clear we all felt really passionate about connecting people through cultural experiences. And serendipitously we all joined forces within about one week of meeting each other!

We’re still such a new and small team that we all have a hand in just about every aspect of the business. However we do try and focus on what we’re passionate about. Ayumi, as a very talented artist, makes everything look as beautiful as it does. Diana focuses on community building and partnerships, and I tackle marketing and business planning.

Display of Three Gems Tea

You guys are the tea gals so we’re going to lay down some tea questions! How much caffeine is too much? Do you have a time in the day where you stop drinking caffeinated tea?

Definitely stop when caffeine is negatively affecting your health! I actually had to stop drinking coffee about 10 years ago because my body slowly stopped being able to handle the acidity, and I got mad coffee jitters. That’s when I turned to drinking more tea. Tea actually contains l-theanine which is an amino acid that slows the absorption of caffeine and often provides a calming effect. I usually try to stop drinking tea by early afternoon, but some tea sessions can go all night long, and maybe it’s the l-theanine or because I’m having such a good time, but I’m able to sleep just fine.

If you drink too much coffee or caffeinated tea, is there an effective way to offset the jitters? Asking for a friend...

Getting some exercise in typically helps. If you can’t do a heavy workout, then calm your nerves by doing some yin yoga and meditation. If you really need a shortcut then pop a melatonin.

As a small business owner, what's the best advice you've received?

Another small business owner I looked up to told me, “You’re going to have to be everyone’s friend and start being known as the “tea” lady.”

What’s a big misconception about running a small business?

I think often times people don’t fully respect the amount of work and resources that go into keeping a small business afloat and the sheer amount of decision making that comes with it. I certainly didn’t fully get it until I started working with small business owners on previous projects, and now that I am one, I’m fully in that zone. Part of me wants to keep it behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz, while the other part of me wants to expose all the challenges so people empathize and understand. I’m really grateful that communities now exist to connect and support fellow female entrepreneurs. It feels good knowing others are in the same boat and can offer advice.

What part of the process was surprisingly easy?

It was pretty weird finding my business partners within one week. The stars just aligned, and that’s when I knew I was doing the right thing with my life.

What do you wish you knew before embarking on this journey?

The precursor to my Silk Road trip and dreaming up a tea business came from getting burned out in my past job. I thought I had healed from that and would know exactly how to take care of myself, but now that I’m in this entrepreneur life, it’s still a challenge to take care of myself and set those much needed boundaries.

How do you wind down for the night, especially after a hectic day?

Yoga, qi gong, and some late night comedy.

Where are your favorite chill-out places in your area?

Oakland’s beautiful Lake Merritt is the place to go if you want to chill or have a great time. I also love hiking the many nearby trails.

What’s in store for 2020 with 3GT?

2020 is all about getting word out about Three Gems Tea and our mission.


My ideal # of hours of sleep is: 8
Sleep season for me is: all the time! I need my beauty sleep
How many pillows: 2
AM or PM?: PM
Nightcap?: lavender tea
Bad sleep habit: not having a consistent bed time
Good sleep habit: consistently getting 8 hours of shuteye regardless of when I hit the sack
Side/back/stomach sleeper: side
A book you can read over and over:
In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney
Fav podcast: The TryPod with the Try Guys. Not super into podcasts, so I only want to listen to silly podcasts.