Chi San Wan. Aside from having a beautiful name, she also has a beautiful face, a beautiful sense of style, a beautiful personality, a beautiful energy, a beautiful outlook on life, a beautiful almond milk company, a beautiful business partner and - I recently discovered - an exceptionally beautiful morning routine. Initially, learning of her regimes made me wish my mornings were longer. But then it occurred to me that they could be. All it takes is waking up a little earlier in order to start they day with ease and openness, instead of haste and hurriedness. The morning can be such a special time of day if we learn how to use the time, instead of being hostile toward the struggles we create for ourselves.
Many of us operate on autopilot once our alarm goes off. We rarely wake up naturally anymore, but are disturbed, and so, unsurprisingly, our bodies aren’t generally happy about it. Changing the way you sleep, the way you wake and the way your ease yourself into each day will ultimately make the idea of the rest of your day seem more exciting and less of an effort. The time you have in the mornings is your time. You set your alarm. You set yourself a time to leave the house. And you have control over everything that happens in between. Once you begin your journey to work, other people may irritate you, trains may be delayed. At work, other people may irritate you, deadlines may be missed, bosses may be unfair. But the time you create for yourself in the mornings is something you have total control over, so don’t let anything, not even the temptation of having longer in bed, take that away from you.
Now, back to Chi. Chi is one half of The Pressery – a small, local Almond Milk company, specializing in super natural cold-pressed ‘milks’. The duo ‘started up’ in 2014, operating from a small basement in East London, sourcing the best almonds in the world and bottling supernaturalgoodness with not much more than their four bare hands. I first met the girls at the launch party of Qnola. We initially connected via Instagram and decided our ethos and products made a lot of sense together. After exchanging samples, we discovered we’d created a breakfast masterpiece. We had subconsciously played cupid to two of the most nourishing, new breakfast goods on the market, and bringing them together was certainly a beautiful (and delicious) moment. The best part about this marriage was not only the people and the products, but also the timing. The three of us met when we were in the thick of start up stresses. We bonded over the struggles of packaging by hand, being up before and after the rest of the city to soak almonds or to pop quinoa, and laughed about things that were only funny now that they were in the past. One of the best and most encouraging parts of setting up a business, for me, was being surrounded by women like them. Two focused, determined, energetic, real and supportive lady bosses doing their own thing, and doing it well. Here I explore what morning practices helped Chi San get up at 5am to milk almonds, and what regimes she prioritizes now in order to wake up well and seize every day. (Natali's feature to follow).
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“The first thing I do every morning is oil pull with cold-pressed sesame oil whilst I prepare a cup of hot water and lemon, along with my breakfast. I’ll hop in the shower and once I’m done my drink will have cooled to the perfect temperature, my body will have woken up a little and my metabolism will be ready for some fuel.
Breakfast usually consists of The Pressery Almond Milk, Mushroom Powders, and if it’s not too chilly outside, a salad of some sort. I prioritise space in my kitchen for lemons, avocadoes, chilli, The Pressery Almond Milk, and an adaptogen powder or two. I don’t use these ingredients together, but each of them makes up an important part of my morning routine. If I have some Qnola on hand, it’ll be the Cacao & Cashew blend, which I love it with our Original Almond milk. Reminds me of coco pops!
My healthiest kind of breakfast would consist of hot water and lemon (if I could give just one piece of morning advice, this would be it) followed by a small glass of green juice, The Pressery Almond Milk warmed up with a little mushroom powder and some honey. (At Qnola, we’re big fans of easing the body into dealing with food in the morning. After fasting, our bodies aren’t always ready for a solid meal as soon as we wake).
I’d then follow on with a fresh and simple salad of avocado, tomato, cucumber, fresh herbs and a handful of mixed seeds, tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, chilli flakes, sea salt and black pepper and topped with a soft boiled egg.
In order to wake up well, I keep my sleep regime as natural as possible too, just like my eating habits. I try to go to sleep at a decent time, aiming for at least 8 hours sleep in total. I’ve recently rediscovered the SleepCycle app I used to use, which tracks your sleeping patterns and wakes you up at the most appropriate time. Instead of disrupting you in your deepest moment of sleep, the app works to wake you up gently and more naturally, as you drift through stages of consciousness. The more naturally you wake up, the less shocked your body will be, and the more readily it will awaken.
One thing I need to do more of in the morning is to remember to take more time to stretch. It is such an easy yet incredibly energizing activity.
One thing I need to do less of is rush. Rushing disrupts the more important factors of my morning regime and makes the whole day feel hurried and out of sync.
The earliest I’ve ever woken up - aside from getting up to catch a plane in the middle of the night - was probably about 3am for a photo shoot when I worked as a stylist. We wanted to shoot in a maze, and had to capture in the daylight as soon as the sun rose to ensure no tourists would be in shot.
The latest I’ve ever woken up is around 10am, after a long night of either working, partying or being ill. Unless I am down with the flu, I can’t stand lying around in bed all morning.
That being said, the greatest place I have ever woken up is in my own bed (always). On Christmas morning last year it was just my boyfriend and I in our flat in Hackney - the first Christmas without any rush or fuss - and it was perfect.
Aside from last Christmas’s dreamy awakening, my ideal kind of morning usually involves waking up naturally with the sun, doing some light stretching as I get out of bed, oil pulling and prepping my hot water and lemon, meditating, enjoying a green juice and then exercising lightly (either yoga, running or Tempo Pilates). Then I’d shower without much reason to hurry and walk to catch up with loved ones over a long brunch – followed by an even longer walk, post feast.
My most indulgent breakfast - and one that would absolutely feature in my ideal morning - is anything involving sweet corn fritters, salsa, avocado, thick cut smoked salmon and an Earl Grey Tea.
This morning I managed to fit in some meditation, which is helping me deal with the constant ‘waves of life’.
As it’s a Saturday, tomorrow morning will involve a brisk walk to my yoga class (that’s the plan anyway!) before grabbing some breakfast with the boy and heading home to organize my weekend."
Follow @thepressery to keep up to date with their Almond Milk endeavors as they launch their first range of long life product, containing 7% organic Spanish almonds, filtered water, and nothing else. For every 1L carton sold they will donate 5p to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The money will go towards their work supporting the conservation, raising awareness and increasing education about bumblebees and the benefits they provide.
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. Our favourite Qnola x The Pressery combinations are Beetroot Qnola with their Original Almond Milk, or Cacao Qnola with their Cacao Almond Milk .