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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!