Sharon Toews is glad she took the chance and bought a small tea business in the Shuswap.
“When (the owner) wanted to sell I knew nothing about tea . . .” Toews reminisces. “Now it’s a family run business — it’s turning out to be the best thing I’ve ever done!”
Toews owns and operates Shuswap Infusion Teas out of Scotch Creek, B.C. She imports her bulk ingredients and blends them in her home to create the teas she’s becoming known for. One thing important to her process is ensuring she uses the best and healthiest ingredients.
“Everything is natural and has natural flavouring and I’m in the process of making some of the teas that are not organic, organic. And, any new blend I (create) is going to be organic,” Toews explains.
She explains that she tries to come up with “tasty blends” that are geared towards other health benefits in addition to tasting good — for instance she’s working on a nettle and licorice blend requested by one of her customers.
“(Also) I’m trying to source my herbs locally, and I’m trying to help people out and buy from locals, if I can, for the ingredients.”
Keeping with the locality of her product, Toews sells her product at seven different farmers’ markets in the area including Sun Peaks each Sunday. She already distributes through about 20 retail outlets and is working on a business plan with Save on Foods. Her teas will also be represented at the Women Only Weekend happening at Sun Peaks in mid-September.
What are Toews’ favourite teas? She tells SPIN for iced teas her Goddess and Tropical blends are a hit. As for hot teas Earl Grey and Blossom get rave reviews.
In addition to being a wealth of information on blending and tasting tips, Toews offers a little known trick to making any favourite tea decaffeinated. Steep your cup of tea by bringing the water to a rolling boil and pouring it over the tea as per normal. Let the tea steep for only 30 seconds before straining the water but retaining the leaves. Then add more water and steep again.
“The caffeine gets released in the first 30 seconds of steeping your tea. So you can actually make any tea decaffeinated,” explains Toews.
To see what Shuswap Infusions has to offer, visit Toews at the farmers’ markets.