People have been spending less on merchandise since COVID started 19 months ago. I was somewhat surprised due the huge number of Amazon deliveries that arrive at our condo each week. I am on speed dial with several of my neighbours so we can bring our purchases to safety when we’re not home to accept deliveries. The online shopper is alive and well. However, excursions to the mall and to window shop on Fourth Avenue or Robson Street are down. Purchases are more deliberate, to the benefit of places with a committed following like Vancouver Kidsbooks, Mountain Equipment Coop and grocery stores.
I find joy in the perfect cup of tea on a daily basis. When my husband and I were visiting my daughter in Taiwan, we had the luck and the good timing to do a tasting at a working tea plantation not targeting tourists. As with everything, background knowledge matters. Quality products are produced when background knowledge goes hand in hand with someone with a pride in what they do and the means to distribute their product.
My very favourite place to buy tea is Silk Road Tea, especially since I bonded with the owner on a red eye flight from Toronto. Yes, of course. Talking about tea. One of the books that I’m working on right now is about tea. Why we drink it. How it is made. What determines quality. I am hoping to include interesting information and the stories. Generally, something is lost with large scale production. That’s why you find earl grey tea without a smell or the signature taste on the shelves of chain grocery stores. The bergamot oil does in fact matter. A detail that eludes some. High quality tea purchased by someone with enough background knowledge to make wise purchases and nice venues with “all things tea”, in Victoria and Vancouver, make Silk Road Tea two tea shops I want to succeed.
During COVID, I made another tea discovery, initially through Amazon. JusTea. Fair Trade tea. Non GMO verified. Vancouver company. High quality product with a picture and a short MEET YOUR FARMER bio. I love that JusTea has managed to distribute high quality product while supporting Fair Trade practices.
My Peppermint Detox tea – Made by Isabella – “On her small-scale “shamba”, Isabella grows her own organic lemongrass and sells it to the Women’s Co-op.”
My Purple Jasmine – Made by Christine – “Christine, called Chepkimi, is a single mother of two energetic children. She is pleased to have a steady job.”
My Purple Mint – Made by Emmanuel – “Emmanuel is one of the youngest tea processing masters in Kenya. He is extremely passionate to create the best cup of tea for you!”
My cousin introduced me to another venture that has helped me to put a face on what I am consuming. Skipper Otto. The Skipper Otto Community started supporting the Fishery (CSF) in 2008 to reconnect fishing families directly to consumers. My particularly exquisite Chinook salmon meal last week came to me from Williard and Natasha Marshall. They are the Tseshaht fishers who caught my dinner on their skiff in Alberni Inlet in August 2021. I made my Skipper Otto order online on a Monday and picked up my flash frozen and canned order on the Thursday at the Granville Island Wharf, one of the pick up locations. I know where it came from. I know that it’s fresh. I know that Williard and Natasha and other members of the collective are benefitting from the fruits of their labour. I know the pricing is good. My initial commitment in this venture was $200.00 for 2021. Now that I know the quality of the product and trust the company will deliver, I’ll be able to enjoy a lot more seafood in 2022.
Putting a name to the product goes a long way to ensuring that small businesses are able to succeed and we that we trust we are getting value for our dollar. We know from experience that multi-national corporations are more interested in profit line for shareholders than supporting those people able to bring quality and value to consumers. It is a pleasure to support the individuals who care about delivering their best to me personally and reap the benefits from doing so. I now have a personally invested interest in them doing well.