by Zara Fischer-Harrison
Margit Nellemann and Victor Vesely have traveled the world. They love tea, and want to share their passion for those delicate leaves with Canada. Hailing from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island just outside of Duncan, the multi-talented couple has undertaken a major experiment. With a micro-climate similar to that of Northern Japan, they hope that they can grow Camellia sinensis on their 11 acre farm. With beautifully terraced plants, the journey has only begun, and the one-year-old tea shrubs are off to a great start. There are numerous challenges and risks associated with the venture, but Victor and Margit are hopeful for their burgeoning crop. Deer are a major roadblock, and are being fended off with bushy calendula flowers that line the hilly landscape. Frost has the potential to wipe out the entire project. It’s a rocky road, but Victor and Margit are determined to make it happen.
Along with growing tea plants, they have started a business of blending green, black, and herbal teas to sell in the cozy tea lounge on site, through local businesses and at farmers markets. With 24 varieties of loose leaf teas available, guests at Teafarm have the opportunity to relish in warm cuppas to their hearts’ delight. Teafarm customers also have the opportunity to find their Chinese Zodiac and match it to a custom blended tea. Each tea has a personality that corresponds to the trends in personality of each Zodiac sign. It’s the perfect gift for the warm and friendly Horse, or the adventurous and delightfully spicy Tiger. Finding your Zodiac sign is easy at the Teafarm.ca website.
Everything Teafarm offers is fair trade and organic. As the tea plants in the Cowichan Valley mature over the next three to four years to be ready for harvest, Margit and Victor will continue to nurture relationships with producers in other parts of the world, inviting them to visit the farm, and also traveling to experience tea farming in other places. In each sip you can taste the high quality of every ingredient including many flowers and herbs, like aromatic hops, lavender, and mint, which they grow in the gardens at Teafarm. And if that weren’t enough to make you book your flight already, Victor and Margit host tea-centric events like Moroccan tea ceremonies, dance performances and International Tea Day celebrations on the farm. Coming up soon is Tea and Tango on October 30th, and the annual open house will be the first weekend in December. Feast your eyes on Margit Nellemann’s intricately designed ceramic work in the tea lounge, and wrap your fingers around one of her mugs as you feast your other senses on your favourite blend of tea.
Zara Fischer-Harrison works and plays in various capacities in the good food movement. Read her blog at http://foodandpassion.wordpress.com/