Lynda Budd is an avid traveler, with a taste for both tea and adventure. I first met the elegant and powerful owner of Toronto-based teALCHEMY, on a wintery evening during – appropriately enough – a tasting event downtown. After a year and a half of taking tea courses and attending tea seminars, along with visiting tea estates around the world, Lynda realized an untapped potential in the vast tea market. “I soon discovered that the more I learned about tea the more there was still to learn about tea. It was then when it became obvious to me I could turn tea into a business,” says Lynda.
“The thought of doing what you love and loving what you do charged me. I instantly fell in love with the people and could see that the business opportunities were endless. I just had to pick a direction.” And pick a direction she did. Lynda’s enthusiasm for tea eventually led her to bringing her global discoveries back to Canada where she opened her online tea shop teALCHEMY.ca, selling a collection of teas almost as diverse as the locales in which ingredients are grown, with names such as Jasmine Dragon Tears and Sweet Blossom Green, alongside traditional favourites such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
When asked about early challenges in starting teALCHEMY, Lynda has clearly applied her executive experience to becoming an entrepreneur: “Time is so precious and finding the balance of family, health, friends, and now a new business can be challenging. But,exciting too. I don’t really consider building teALCHEMY ‘work’ because I enjoy it so much.” Still, running a business is not all play – a certain business savvy is necessary. “Patience is key. Being required to identify the right market and demographic to appeal to, when I believe that tea can appeal to everyone has been part of the challenge but now also the solution. I wanted to express tea as being versatile. It has also been important for me to try and do everything myself first then consult with experts when acknowledging my own weaknesses.” Along with market knowledge and a keen self-awareness, Lynda emphasizes the need for a solid marketing strategy. “Branding is not only key, it takes time. Presenting tea the way I knew it should be presented needed to come through properly in our branding and marketing.”
With the success of teALCHEMY and the growing role tea is playing in our lifestyle, Lynda is set to publish Tea-Tails (PRODUCT Toronto INC. 2014) – a full-colour mixology book of tea-inspired cocktails. “When I discovered that there were specific methods for extracting flavours from tea such as heat and water, fats, or alcohol, I knew that teALCHEMY’s flavourful teas required the exotic pairing in the direction of alcohol,” says Lynda.
Poised to stage a beverage revolution, Lynda is taking tea out of the sitting room and into chic parties across the city and beyond. “Tea cocktails can be stylish, trendy, timeless, traditional, made for different occasions, different age groups or different time of the day or night. Tea-Tails aims to encourage a journey of variety, style, tradition, influence and experimenting like a true alchemist would.” Bring on the teavolution.
WORDS: MELISSA ALLEN
PHOTOS: TARA NOELLE
LOCATION: PARLOUR LOUNGE
MUA: CHERYL GUSHUE OF MARY TRIPI & SB890
HAIR: GINA MENDIOLA OF MARY TRIPI