When I think of a company making tea fun and likeable to many, I think of T By Daniel in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. This successful Canadian brand is lead by Daniel Lewis and his wife. If you have attended festivals they have participated in or even just follow Daniel on social media, then you’re probably aware of his joyful, upbeat personality and love for bowties. His infectious passion and energy has provided him with many inspiring tea moments. At the tea table, Daniel Lewis chats about finding his tea love at DAVIDsTea and Teaopia before opening his own tea shop which eventually lead him to serving tea to His Royal Highness this year. Yes, you read that right! Get yourself a cup of tea and continue reading to learn more about his journey to tea and his Royal experience.
The kettle is on and I can hear it about to sing. What tea are you going to steep for us today?
I am steeping a delicious and aromatic Cream of Earl Grey, Canadian Eh? as we call it at T By Daniel! This is definitely among my top 5 teas. It has delicious maple and vanilla notes alongside a medium bodied earl grey black tea! Mmmmmmm *drooling*
Such a suitable name for that blend! How did your love for tea begin and eventually evolve into T By Daniel?
I always resorted to tea from my childhood especially when I was feeling under the weather but it wasn’t until 2010 when DAVIDsTEA and Teaopia opened up shop that I was reintroduced to tea in a completely new light! So many different types and blends and flavours. Once I began to explore these many variations of loose leaf teas, I was absolutely taken away into a delightful bliss. One of the first teas I remember trying was from DAVIDsTEA called Bear Paw (if I remember correctly) it was so new and so refreshing. I also fell deeply in love with a cactus herbal tisane from Teaopia… I can’t quite remember the name. This obsession with tea eventually lead me into my own adventure which is now know as T By Daniel. I wanted to share the same excitement and passion that I stumbled upon with others.
This year you had the incredible opportunity to serve tea to His Royal Highness during his Canada 150 Royal Tour. Can you share details about that experience and the tea blend you created in his honour?
If I said it was a dream come true, I would be lying… I never even dreamed that this would ever happen. On Friday, June 30, 2017 My wife and I were endowed with the great honour of serving tea to the future king of England- His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles). WHAT!?
Anyone that knows me, would tell you Daniel is NEVER nervous; maybe it’s tied to the fact that I’m always prancing around the city in some crazy costume or making the creepiest Instagram dance videos. Whatever it is, being nervous is just not my thing. On the other hand, (literally) my palms were drenched in sweat as The Prince began to walk in my direction. I began to be tormented by the thought of the tea being cold, or bitter or maybe I would spill it on him or worst, what if he didn’t even want tea! Anyways, long fairytale short, none of the mentioned above scenarios happened. In fact, HRH (His Royal Highness) actually loved the tea and said it was absolutely brilliant! After about a 2 minute conversation with Prince Charles, he proceeded to the next group of individuals to strike up another casual conversation.
That’s when things really got faint-worthy… in the middle of his conversation, I looked on as he took his last sip of tea (The Famous Lion Chai From T By Daniel) and then motioned something about the tea to his assistant and pointed in my direction…
What did I do? Maybe he didn’t like it? A tall British man dressed in a 2 piece suit came towards my wife and I, holding the Prince’s empty tea cup in his hands. He said, “it seems HRH really enjoyed his tea… It’s all done.” Seconds later one of the ladies who The Prince was speaking with last, ran over to me with the biggest expression of amazement and said, “OMG! The Prince loved your tea! He actually interrupted our conversation to express how much he was really enjoying his tea and he went on to say that it was the best tea he has ever had!”
Ok I didn’t, but seriously I was light headed at this moment. This is a tea company’s highest achievement, to serve tea to anyone from The Royal Family… and on top of all that, he claims it’s the best tea he has ever had! Finally HRH exited the hangar at the army base in Trenton, ON – where he made his appearance, and then came the cherry on top… The Prince’s official representative and president of The Prince’s Charities of Canada came over to my wife and I and said, “The Prince absolutely loved his tea and claimed it was the best tea he has ever had.” He sent her to get the recipe and inquire how we made it, as he would like to bring it back home with him to share with his family.
I fainted for real.
Okay I didn’t but honestly, I should have. Well.. this was obviously nothing short of the most amazing moment of my entire life. To further celebrate the occasion I was also privileged to be able to personally create a tea blend for HRH. The tea was named POLO WITH THE PRINCE which is named after HRH’s love for the sport. The blend is a delicious Orange Pekoe English Breakfast with subtle notes of lemon and strawberry. It is adorned in red cornflowers to represent Canada’s 150th, purple mallow flowers to represent HRH royalty and yellow calendula sunflower petals to represent the warmth and happiness of this amazing occasion.
Congrats on such a positive experience! You’re about to sit down for a solo tea session. Describe how that would look for you.
The first thing I would do to prepare my tea session is carefully select which tea blend I would like to try first, based on my mood and based on which tea really intrigues me. After I’ve selected the tea, I would get my favourite green cast iron tea pot and scoop my tea in. After I’ve added the water and my tea is steeping, I would usually go for my glass tea cup as I have always been so amazed at watching the different tea liquors once I pour my steeped tea. I’m certainly okay with silence when I’m relaxing but if I decided to play music.. I am a avid listener of classic music (96.3) Sip. Enjoy. and DREAM!
What’s one big thing you’ve learned that has helped you immensely in the world of tea?
I have learned to always stay true to who I am and why I fell in love with tea. Tea has a very deep rooted culture and along with that comes heavily practiced traditions. Although I respect that aspect of tea…that is not what I fell in love with. Tea to me is the funky, cool beverage that accompanies me on all my adventures. I like to present it that way, because it’s real to me.
Black, Green, Yellow, White, Oolong or Puerh?
Hot, Iced or Cold?
Teapot, Infuser or Gaiwan?
Straight, Sweetened or Latte?
Cheese or Chocolate pairing?
Tough one….. probably chocolate.
You’re stranded on a desert island and you could only bring 3 tea related items. What did you bring?
A huge glass tumbler, a delicious milk oolong, and a strainer. Given the scorching heat from the sun in the desert, I should be able to continually sun steep my tea using the glass tumbler. Whooohooooo!
Find Daniel Lewis & T By Daniel:
ABOUT THIS SERIES: Tea tells stories and when connected with humans, more are created. That’s where the idea for this blog series, At the Tea Table, originated. With this series, The Cup of Life asks tea lovers around the world to take us inside their tea lives to share their favourite steeps, spaces, routines and more. Meet some of your fellow tea drinkers here.