When Julie Andrews sang of her favourite things all those years ago, it was as if she had given us all permission to do the same.  Suddenly we felt empowered to define ourselves not by quoting what we exceeded at or aspired to be, but by those things that inspired and delighted us and compelled us to go and find our own examples of joy in everyday life.  When Mr. Toad and I were invited to visit a quaint little tea shop in the heart of our beloved town of Duncan, we had not expected to find so many new items to add to our lists.

Chari-Teas - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Chari-Teas – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

One of my very favourite things, especially on a grey west-coast afternoon, is a steaming mug of delicious tea.  My tea pots are well-loved and are usually found not far from my reach as I go through my day.  Sweet and warm, the dampness just seems to disappear as the cup warms my hands and the aroma swirls around me.  Add a good book and a couple of cats curled up on my lap and the recipe for a perfect afternoon is complete!

Chari-Teas - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Chari-Teas – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

So naturally, it was for me like walking into a candy store for grown-ups.  Shelves filled with every conceivable flavour and type of tea bearing names like “Coconut Bliss”, “Mayan Chocolate”, “Ice Wine”, and “Dreamsville” make it nearly impossible to decide which ones to bring home first.

Chari-Teas - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Chari-Teas – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Treats and bric-a-brac fill the tables and shelves, offering an endless variety of tea cups and pots from modern and playful to fancy and elegant.  There is something for everyone to add to their lists, including tiny tea sets for wee ones who wish to entertain their teddy bears in style.

Chari-Teas - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Chari-Teas – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

But the very best part of Chari-Teas is really captured in a few photographs of smiling faces hanging proudly on the wall.  Shop owners Karen and Yolanda work tirelessly with the help of Karen’s children to bring love and hope to places far away from the safety and comfort of our pleasant rural town.  They have a foundation in one of the poorest provinces in Columbia that supports families dealing with the devastation of AIDS including a family of four children who lost their parents and are being raised by their grandmother.  Another family has been supported by them for the past three years, helping a mother who has no means to feed her three sick children.  Other success stories include providing formula and food to several children battling cancer and their families, helping four widows to set up their own businesses who would have had no choice but to turn to prostitution after losing their husbands, and purchasing a new wheelchair for a sixteen year old boy who is enduring multiple surgeries.  Nothing flashy or fancy, just simply people helping people in the truest definition of community.  Yet Yolanda and Karen take no credit for any of it, instead insisting that it is their customers who make it all possible.

Chari-Teas - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Chari-Teas – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

As completely as the scrumptious tea warms my tummy, the genuine love and caring warms my heart and soul.  Tasty tea, pretty dishes, chocolate, and helping to make the world just a little bit kinder…this truly special place is definitely at the very top of my list of favourite things!

Thank you ever so much for joining us today over a lovely cup of sweet tea, and as always, please feel free to share your thoughts and comments as we truly love to hear from you.  And if you are lucky enough to be close by, do drop in to Chari-Teas and say hi to Karen and Yolanda who will happily help you to find some new favourite things to add to your own lists!

Until next time!

Warmly,

Mrs. Toad




  1. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Absolutely dreamy post and images Mrs. Toad! I love tea and the warmth that it brings! I think I could spend a very long time in there! 🙂

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you so much Rachel! I think there are a few of us here who would enjoy a visit over a lovely cup of tea…wouldn’t that be great!

  2. avatar jmcastner says:

    the part about good books and cats curled up on ones lap immediately got my attention — such a cozy comfort. i grew up w. felines, mine was named ming-mao. i’m not into tea much, but have found a few which i enjoy.
    /// i sure enjoyed the ambiance u provided with ur descriptive sharing of the tea house. it sounds like a wonderful place! and the opportunities of helping others, such an encouraging word. and those pictures mrs. toad — wonderful!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Always a pleasure to meet another “cat” person, thank you so much for your wonderful comments! There are so many wonderful flavours to explore at this charming shop that I’m sure we could make a tea lover out of you in no time:) I will pass your kind kudos on the images to Mr. Toad, he is the magic behind the lens. Thanks for your visit today!

  3. O my! The Toads have been up to their amazing talents again. What a wonderfully written post and beautiful photographs, all to honour a small local business that is doing such good in this big world of ours. Thank you for warming my heart and the hearts of others and for showing off one of the many cozy little emporiums in our unique corner of the world in downtown Duncan, on Vancouver Island, BC.
    I will share this far and wide. But first… a cup of tea.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Patricia! It is our absolute pleasure to highlight the wonderful work that is being done by these kind folks, and as for the tea, well let’s just say that my tea pots are getting very little rest these days! It’s always such a pleasure to see you here at the Hollow, thanks for your visit and your friendship and support.

  4. avatar Bev Oliver says:

    Thank you so much, for taking us into the heart of this exquisite little shop! We’ve past it by, in a hurry, on many occasions, but never made the time to go in. And of course, we had no idea that the store name held such rich meaning! We’ll surely visit there soon; you’ve made this interior appear so very inviting!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Bev! It’s so nice to see you here today! Thank you for your wonderful comments, we are looking forward to hearing about your visit to Chari-Teas…be prepared to spend some time trying to decide which ones to try first, there are so many fantastic flavours! What a great way to do some good in the world, it just doesn’t get any better! Cheers!

  5. Just as I am thinking I know it all I realize there is a tea shop I know nothing about. The interesting and inviting write up and the photography compel me now to go and check it out anon.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Joseph! I am so happy to hear that you will be checking it out now, with all of this rain and fog I can think of no better time for a warm cup of tea! Thank you kindly for your visit today, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

  6. avatar PatG says:

    Wonderful shop. So many wonderful tea shops in the lower mainland. Love the photos and the commentary; warmth, steam, all good. The only thing missing is a photo of a cup steaming! Love my tea! Note to self – Must stop collecting teas and tea pots. So many varieties of tea. So little time to sit, think, dream and sip.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Pat, thank you so much for your visit today! I love the idea of sipping tea and taking time to dream, something that is often missing from our busy and hectic days. And one can never have too many tea pots and cups, keep collecting and keep dreaming!

  7. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Oh I love a good tea shop, in fact I’m sitting here reading this sipping a nice cup of oolong tea. Looks like an awesome tea shop. Thanks for sharing!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Rick, thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing your kind words! I think you would very much enjoy this shop, another item to add to your list when you visit us here at the Hollow? 🙂

  8. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Mrs. Toad your post wants to make me put my coar on, leave work and head home and make myself a coup of tea and curl up on the coach. Fantastic post and the images are beautiful.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Edith, it’s always a good time to leave work and curl up on the couch with a cup of tea! I say go for it! Thank you for your kind comments, and for your dear friendship and support. Good tea is meant to be shared with good friends!

  9. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    I am getting hungry just looking at these images Mrs Toad. Your description of this quaint place just adds more interest especially on a cold day in New England.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Len, thanks so much for your comments today! I have been to New England many, many times and would have to agree that a cup of this wonderful tea is exactly what you need at this pretty but rather chilly part of the year! Cheers!