A Big Year 1 for the Newfoundland Tea Company

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You know you’ve made it when Raymonds Restaurant serves your product on their renowned, carefully considered menu.

Based in Gander, Newfoundland Tea Co. launched last November, and its products are already available across the island, from Belbin’s or the Bees Knees in St. John’s, to Harbour Grounds in Corner Brook, the Dock Marina in Trinity, and beyond.

“I was looking into starting a coffee roasting company,” founder Nicole Keats says. “I went to a coffee/tea trade show in Toronto last September, and while there, I got chatting with a woman who owned a tea business in Ontario.”

During their conversation, it dawned on her that there wasn’t yet a tea company in Newfoundland. A strange thing, given we’re a province of devout tea drinkers. I’ve personally met locals who set a timer to assure the perfect steep … after measuring loose tea as if in a science lab, and an extra 1/16th of a teaspoon would ruin the day.

“I came home and began to research tea,” she says, “and started planning the business.”  That business now offers roughly 30 flavours, so you won’t run out of options once you’re a devoted fan.

And you will become a devotee if you give it a whirl. This is legit, properly made tea, devoid of all the flaws present in teas made using those big corporate, profit-driven shortcuts in commercial teas like our dearly beloved Tetleys, Red Roses, and King Coles. Yes, this is “craft” tea.

“It’s real tea,” Keats says. “The best organic tea leaves, herbs, and fruit you can find. No additives and no chemicals. Just pure tea goodness.”

Flavours include “Dulce de Leche,” “Orange Popsicle,” and, “Caramel Latte” alongside some more traditional teas. The Caramel Latte tea — which The Overcast included in its October Tilly Tally Box — has whole coffee beans in it: why chose between tea or coffee in the mornings if you can have your coffee and drink your tea too?

Keats adds that all but two of her tea blends are not only organic, but ethically grown and traded as per The Ethical Tea Partnership, which is a not for profit membership of tea farms and tea buyers and sellers who are committed to producing and distributing ethically grown, harvested, and processed tea.

Keats also owns Bistro on Roe in Gander. They serve a cocktail made of her blueberry tea. If you want to try the “Wild Blueberry Tea Martini” at home, it’s Newfoundland Tea Co. Wild Blueberry Tea, gin, Grand Marnier, simple syrup, lime, and a few blueberries.

Newfoundlanders are known as tea drinkers, so supporting our own tea maker ought to be an easy act of patriotism. You can find a list of the 25+ shops across the island who sell it by the bag on their Facebook page.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, Keats’ personal favourite is Scottish Caramel, whereas Strawberry Fields is proving to be Newfoundland Tea Co.’s best seller. The Caramel Latte was a real hit with Tilly Tally subscribers in October. Again: coffee and tea in the same cup. It’s as good as it sounds.

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Chad Pelley

Chad Pelley is an author, songwriter, and journalist who wrote for publications like the Globe & Mail and The Telegraph-Journal before founding The Overcast. Now he spends 25 hours a day keeping up with his email, and has no time to be his former self.

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