A life-long love of tea has taken me to some of my favourite exotic landscapes: the Zomba plateau (Malawi); the lush interior hills of Sri Lanka (Ceylon); south India’s Western Ghats; and the misty Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling.
While it’s the exact same plant (Camellia sinensis) that blankets these and so many other hills from China to South America, each region boasts a distinctive flavour due only partly to differences in processing. Like fine wine, the subtle aroma and flavour of your favourite cuppa owes much to the “terroir” – the soil – from which it grows.
Very soon – Canada Day weekend, in fact – a brand new terroir will be introduced to the world of tea, and in a seemingly unlikely place: the Cowichan Valley.
Nestled in the lush, forested folds of Vancouver Island the Westholme Tea Farm will be debuting its first flush Spring harvest tea from bushes planted by proprietors Victor Vesely and Margit Nellemann in 2010. While waiting for those to mature they renovated a ramshackle barn into a tea room to sell organic teas brought in from around the world, as well as a studio and gallery space for Margit’s whimsical pottery art.
I have deliberately timed many trips up or down Island to put me just north of Duncan around tea time. It’s the perfect excuse (should you need one) to stop by the Tea Farm for a pot of tea chosen from the dozens available, a tea-inspired treat to go with it and to replenish my growing loose-tea collection at home.
A hot Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks back was the perfect backdrop for a White Blossom iced-tea and homemade rhubarb and jasmine tea sorbet. The combo might be a bit too floral for some, like consuming a bouquet, but I loved it!
This Canada Day weekend, Margit and Victor will be welcoming tea lovers from near and far to taste the first commercially grown organic tea in Canada! Reserve your spot, or just stop by any other Wednesday to Sunday to explore the world in a cup.