The moment the door opens, rich aromas infuse the air, as a cheerful Alysia Lor-Knill greets her customers.
Teaessential is a new tea shop on 30th Avenue owned by Lor-Knill and her husband, Tyrone Knill.
Lor-Knill’s background is Persian and she grew up in China, so she has been steeped in the tea culture her entire life.
“I’ve always loved learning new things about tea and being able to share it with others,” she said.
There is no need to be in a hurry when picking out the perfect tea to complement your mood.
Samples of loose tea line the long wood counter that spans much of the length of the shop, for customers to smell before they make their choice.
With 130 teas to choose from, the task can be a bit forboding.
“I try to narrow it down for my customers because I know it can be overwhelming,” said Lor-Knill.
“I look at what they usually like and break it down into a smaller selection to pick from.”
All the teas have been sourced by Lor-Knill and she makes sure they are from reputable suppliers.
She then blends many of the teas herself and has done tasting and research to make sure that the teas they sell don’t have any artificial flavouring and are made with quality ingredients.
“We carry some unique Persian teas that I blend myself,” said Lor-Knill.
“With the help of my mom we came up with a few different recipes of traditional Persian teas mixed with either rose, cardamom or tangerine.”
She also does custom blends for her customers and loves trying and experimenting with new teas and enlists her husband as the guinea pig
“I like that people become very excited when they smell the different teas, especially when they smell the things that I blend and they say ‘oh my God, this smells so good’”.
Their location, most recently The Starting Block, was originally Nick’s Kandy Kitchen.
After hearing stories about the historic candy shop, they decided to put up photos and information they found at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, as an ode to the small business that meant so much to the community.
It took a few of months for the couple to transform the running store into the tranquil tea shop.
“Ty built all of our counters and shelving, so I handle the tea and customer service side of things and he handles the maintenance stuff,” said Lor-Knill.
The bright and homey space is decorated with tea pots and cups from throughout the world, as well as pottery that’s made locally.
Alysia and Tyrone have had lots of support from her family, who are literally a stone’s throw away.
Teaessential is located next to her parents’ shop Gold’N Time Jewellery, which they have owned for 14 years.
“The experiences they’ve shared with us about running a business in Vernon have been priceless,” said Lor-Knill.
She laughs about how perfect it is having her business so close to her family’s, as she explains that her mom is one of her best customers and brings in her lunch every day.