by Heather Larson | Photo © Teafarm
The sign next to the driveway says “Enjoy Slowing Down,” setting the pace for your visit to the Teafarm in the Cowichan Valley. Once you walk through the door of the renovated dairy barn, calmness envelops you. Serenity emanates from the fragrant blends of tea, the visual beauty of the artwork and the personal touch given by proprietors Victor Vesely and Margit Nelleman. You’re bound to slow down and enjoy yourself.
Linger over an exceptional cup of tea and a sweet treat. The hot brews here taste like no other because flowers and plants grown on this 11-acre farm have been intermingled with organic loose leaf teas from select estates around the world. Vesely and Nelleman have even created blends to match each of the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs. “Snake” is white tea spiced with purple tulsi (holy basil), while “Rabbit” offers a tranquil mix of chamomile, tila (linden flowers), hops, lemon balm and rose petals.
Tea farming is a relatively new venture on Vancouver Island and Teafarm is Canada’s first. The Cowichan Valley soil and climate is proving to be well suited to it. In 2013, the third year for the crop, 200 Camellia Sinensis plants (where all tea comes from) thrived. Although still a work in progress, eventually, at least some of the tea served here will be grown on site, making the locale a genuine tea farm.
“We’re on a beautiful, lovely path with the tea plants,” says Vesely. “Yet it will be at least two more years until they mature, so we continue to plant and learn.”
Tea leaves grown at the farm have been infused into the cakes and cookies you can order to go with your preferred drink. And the ceramic tea pots and cups were handcrafted by Nelleman.
Besides the food and drink on the menu and the art that fills the shop, the Teafarm also hosts numerous events throughout the year that combine tea and culture. A Japanese Tea Ceremony is slated for 2014 as is a Mad Hatter Tea Party straight from Alice in Wonderland, complete with crazy hats. Check the website for event dates.
At this northernmost small-scale tea growing and blending establishment, Nelleman and Vesely like to say, “Tea brings people together.” To learn more about Teafarm or to order tea online, go to teafarm.ca. For information about visiting Cowichan Valley, about an hour from Victoria, go to hellobc.com/vancouver-island.aspx.