By Shannon Scales
A lifetime ago, it seems, I was a young music major at UPEI. Always one to need a part time job through my studies, I began my tea journey with Katherine and Lady Baker’s Tea in 2008. Not having a farmer’s market in my hometown of New Glasgow, I found the Charlottetown Farmers' Market unbelievably appealing and sweet. I loved the sense of community and the pride that comes from supporting local farmers and artisans. To be honest, I would have worked at any booth just to be a part of the energy and excitement that the Market brought me. Luckily for me, Katherine was just in the very early days of her ventures into the retail tea business and looking for an assistant. I happily took the job. I became affectionately known as her “tea girl”, which I loved. Being away from home and on my own, I’ve always felt that Katherine was family. Always there to support me, listen to my woes and excitements and call me out when I was being a selfish 20 something.
I took on any job Katherine needed of me. There was the market of course, but I also baked scones and cookies in the church basement, served tea and lunch at Avonlea Village and Founders hall, and packaged tea in numerous closet sized office spaces that we’ve called home over the years. I’d leave work to find chai spices in my ears and nose and almost always had that Blooming Blueberry tea smell. The smells of each always bring back fond memories in an instant. I always get a laugh when I think of where we’ve come as a company. Things are always growing, improving and leaving sweet memories along the way.
Working at the Farmer’s market with Katherine had its perks. I suddenly had endless cups of tea at hand! When I first began, my knowledge of tea was limited. I have never been a coffee drinker, but would occasionally drink a cup of english breakfast or earl grey (black, and with milk and sugar, respectively). I quickly soaked up all of the tea tips and trivia katherine gave me. How did I not know that tea was so cool? I quickly became an addict. My personal faves include, Cream Earl Grey, Lady Slipper Blend, Dutch Licorice Rooibos, Moonlong, and Island Strawberry Green. Haven’t tried ‘em? You have got to!
And that was just the beginning! The perks continued. Friendships had sprouted up over my time there, between vendors and market goers alike. So much of my life is connected to the market and I’m forever grateful for my time there. My most important friendship of all had it’s start at the market as well. The story of how I met my husband is quaint and sweet, just like my little market. I was finishing up my degree and thinking of taking off on a new adventure somewhere. Possibly back to my home of Nova Scotia, or maybe farther overseas? I wasn’t sure. But sometime around February of that year, a tall, handsome guy with the best smile and kind eyes started buying Tea from Lady Bakers. He would chat with Katherine and me (some debate was afoot as to who he was flirting with) while waiting for his tea. When he would leave, Katherine would say “oh, he’s such a sweet guy!” and give me a little knowing look that said that I might feel the same. I found out later that another Market Vendor, George, of Springwater Farms, had been putting in a good word for me with the gentlemen! Both Katherine and George like to say that they were playing matchmaker and I can’t say that it didn’t work! He made me laugh and I began looking forward to seeing him every Saturday. Finally, he asked me out for a cup of coffee (which I amended to tea, of course) and that was that! He still has the little slip of paper that I wrote my number on stored away for safekeeping. There just isn’t anything sweeter than that. Seven and a half years later and we are married with the sweetest little 2 year old boy.
We have returned to the Island after having been away for 4 years and I am happy to have found my way back to working with Katherine once more. Coming up with a title for my new position has been tricky. I was hired for what Katherine was calling “creative research and design” which turned into “Creative Engineer”. But that just didn’t have the right ring to it. So these days, I’m going by “Special Projects Coordinator”. Sounds spiffy, doesn’t it?
I have been loving this new collaboration with Lady Baker’s Tea. It couldn’t be a better fit for me or more fun! I have been working behind the scenes coming up with new products being featured on our brand new website: ladybakerstea.com. My biggest project (aka my tea baby), has been our new online subscription service.Three perfectly paired selections of Lady Baker’s Tea sent to your door, with special gifts and promotion to boot! Thinking back to my early days working for Lady Baker’s Tea as a university student, these tea care packages would have been perfection.
You will be seeing more of my handy work in the coming months as we prepare for the Holiday season! While summertime usually has you thinking of iced teas, beaches and sunshine, my thoughts were looking ahead to cozy fireside teas, nestling in with a good book and a cuppa, and sharing thoughtful gifts with friends and loved ones. Keep your eye out for our new Christmas tea line and tea gift sets coming soon. All of these new endeavours have been executed with great care, love and hard work from the whole Tea(m) and I have been so lucky to have been a part of it all.