Christine Lilyholm, owner of Stonehouse Teas in Campbell River, loves coffee, tea, and being an entrepreneur. Her favourite parts of running her own company? Being able to employ awesome local people, collaborating with other businesses in the community, and creating “signature tea blends” for these businesses.
One of these blends is called Island Good Tea, and it contains our very own Gathering Place Rooibos and our BC Wildcrafted Kelp. Referred to as “Vancouver Island in a cup,” Christine put her heart into creating this specialty tea in partnership with the brand Island Good that is trademarked and licensed by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance.
Together, they formed a panel of eight business owners from all over the island, including our CEO Lovena Harvey. Christine interviewed each person individually to discover their answer to this question: “What would Vancouver Island taste like if it was put in a tea?”
“I thought for sure we’d end up with a caffeinated tea but that must have been my own bias,” laughs Christine. “When I interviewed people, the majority felt it should be caffeine-free because to them, the island is all about slowing down, relaxing, and being part of nature.”
Christine compiled all their responses, created four different blends and mailed them to each of the eight panelists. Then is was time for a Zoom tea tasting! This resulted in one more round of refinements, another mailing, and another online taste session.
“What we ended up with is a tea whose ingredients don’t necessarily go together, but is totally delicious and unique,” says Christine. “Kind of like the very different businesses that made up our panel. We don’t all work together, but this tea connects all of us.”
Elderberry, apple, Rooibos, black currant, rosehip, peppermint, ginger, nettle, spearmint, hibiscus, blueberry, sage, BC Bull Kelp, lavender, and corn flower make up this taste sensation that was launched last June. It’s been a big success since then with Stonehouse busily shipping it all over the island. Stonehouse has also created an Island Good soap, using all of the same ingredients.
It’s this creation process that invigorates Christine, who prior to becoming owner of Stonehouse Teas seven years ago, was a chef who loved coming up with new recipes. She worked in restaurants and resorts all over Vancouver Island and then started teaching in the Culinary Arts program at North Island College.
“You don’t drink tea because you’re thirsty. It’s the feeling and the emotion of what it does to you as you drink it. That’s the part of the business that I love the most,” she says. “Creating an emotional experience for our customers.”
Since taking over Stonehouse, the business, which contains a storefront café, an online store, and a wholesale component, has grown three-fold. “The thing that I’m most proud of is the fact that I’ve been able to increase the number of local people we employ from three to ten. I love helping build our community by offering meaningful employment.”
Building community, sharing knowledge, and collaborating with other small businesses are of the utmost importance to Christine. This has led to partnerships with a local yoga studio (soothing yoga tea, anyone?) and even the creation of a “beer tea” with a local brewery!
Gathering Place is honoured to be a part of Stonehouse Teas, supplying Rooibos, Chai Rooibos, BC Bull Kelp, Yerba Mate, Pumpkin Spice, and some of our other farmer-direct ingredients to Christine and her staff. And when we need to make a delivery, we literally walk it over. Stonehouse’s café has been in the same spot on 11th Avenue in downtown Campbell River for the last 16 years and is only one and a half blocks away from Gathering Place headquarters!
“There’s a beautiful synergy between Stonehouse and Gathering Place,” says Christine. “Our values align. I’ve been watching what Lovena has been doing for years. She’s really laid the groundwork for building a sense of community in our region and I want to continue to help grow that.”