As the desire for tea is growing — is the desire for better tea happening, too?
I’m a little surprised to see that the tea selection in the grocery stores in my hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan hasn’t changed that much over the years. Red Rose and Tetley still seem to occupy the most shelf space.
While spending some time with family and long-time friends, I decided to visit the senior community of Sherbrooke Community Centre during my stay in Saskatoon. I reached out to them prior to arriving and was invited to do a tea presentation for their residents. My first job as a teenager was at this same community. The street address is still the same but the changes that have taken place there are truly amazing.
For almost four years, I brought tea into senior communities in the San Diego area, and have kept my finger on the pulse of senior living ever since. I was thrilled to learn of the Eden Alternative Philosophy that’s been implemented at Sherbrooke. It addresses the three dreaded areas of concern in senior communities: loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. (You can learn more about this aging concept here: THE EDEN ALTERNATIVE.)
Of course, doing a tea presentation fits right in with this philosophy!
I also needed to find some tea to serve at my demonstration. In the spirit of what I’ve always “preached” in the tea industry about collaboration versus competition, I reached out to a Saskatoon tea company. In the true fortitude of Canadian hospitality, the owner of Tea Desire, Heidi Aupers, responded to me with warmth and kindness.
Tea Desire opened their first tea store in May 2005. Tony and Heidi Aupers, the founders of Tea Desire, are experienced entrepreneurs. They bring European and Canadian market experience to their tea stores where they stock the finest loose-leaf teas and teaware. (TEA DESIRE CANADA)
With two stores in British Columbia and one in Saskatchewan, I’m always more attracted to teaming up with smaller tea shop owners than going to the “big guys or girls” with my ideas.
The manager of the Saskatoon shop, Angella, and former customer Anna–now working in the teashop–were simply wonderful to meet and a delight to work with! So much so, that Angella volunteered to help me with the senior tea presentation.
These were the selections of tea we chose to serve: White Champagne Cassis, Green Strawberry Champagne, Oolong Raspberry, Rooibos Summertime (strawberry & rhubarb), and a Black Lychee. Yes, for my senior demonstrations, I have learned that the flavored teas are received quite positively over pure and “plain” teas. As predominately “prairie” seniors, I knew these flavors would be a hit. I chose the lychee-flavored black tea as something that would be new to them and sure to be a delight. The White Champagne Cassis was overwhelmingly the hit of the day!
I am most grateful that Angella was extremely efficient at preparing the teas we had selected for the seniors to taste because it was a challenge to keep up! The event was very well attended and tables were added throughout the presentation. We were also most appreciative of the four volunteers that assisted with the pouring of the teas.
Over 40 seniors sipped and socialized at our tea demonstration. Due to privacy restrictions with photos, I have only one photo to share of just a fraction of our attendees.
I am currently updating my tea slides to put together a fresh slideshow of my trips to the tea fields of Japan, China, and India to present next week in another tea-tasting event for these seniors using teas from Tea Desire.
Sherbrooke Community Centre refers to their community as a “village.” Thus, providing the feeling and experience of everyone living and thriving together as a village — which is what I definitely experienced with all the helpful hands that assisted me in bringing this tea event to their seniors.
Tea Desire responded to me in a manner most befitting of the village concept. As I have been stating for over a decade now, the tea industry needs all of us! When we implement the “village” concept as it applies to our mission, passion, or vision with tea — when we all come together, our individual power ten-folds. If we all applied this sentiment, we would quickly learn that the fearful concept of “competition” and rivaling each other with our tea businesses would no longer be necessary. That place of distrust, beating out one another, getting the jump, and basic survival tactics, is just not a good or healthy way to live. Life is about thriving — not just surviving.
Reach out to your community, as well. Many are still new to the world of tea and the experience of sipping good tea. If they are not coming to you — go to them! Collaborate; find ways to expose your product and to express yourself and your passion.
Images provided and copyright held by author