Christmas Shopping In Cowichan: TeaFarm

A Christmas shopping story…

One chilly Saturday in December, while living in London, England several years ago, my brother and I set out to do our Christmas shopping at Selfridges department store. We were going to blitz our Christmas list in one day. We divided the list between us. We would go in, buy the items on our list, and get out as quickly as possible so as not to lose our Christmas spirit in the mayhem.

We’d anticipated the store would be busy that Saturday, what with it being only weeks before the Big Day. What we didn’t expect was how busy; the place was heaving with overdressed wide-eyed shoppers hungry to spend. Our plan to divide and conquer was soon replaced with our new plan to stick close for protection. I linked arms with my brother and we ventured forth.

Our first stop was the watch counter. There were 50 people yapping like ravenous dogs at the lone salesperson. It was like a scene from the stock market floor. When it was finally our turn, we shouted our request so we could be heard above the mob. The salesperson picked out the watch, we gave him our card, he gave us the watch, we ran out of the store and headed straight to the pub for a pint of beer, Christmas shopping incomplete. Madness.

So when the Mister and I set off last Saturday to do our Christmas shopping, I assumed we’d get it all done in one day — this isn’t London after all. But like food and money, Christmas shopping Cowichan-Valley style is slow — and so much the better for it.

Our first stop that day was TeaFarm. Having read their monthly articles in the Valley Voice magazine, I knew they were doing some cool things, like growing their own Camellia tea plants, and partnering with a local chocolatier, Pearl Chocolates, to create a tea-infused chocolate.

What I didn’t expect was how Tea Farm would make me feel.

Victor Vesely, who owns TeaFarm with his wife and artist Margit Nellemann, greeted us with as much warmth as was pumping out of the wood stove, around which two smiling wiener dogs lay passed out. He was serving tea to two other visitors, so the Mister and I wandered around the studio taking in Margit’s unique pottery. Part of what sets Margit’s exquisite tea pots, cups, platters, bowls and lamps apart from other pottery is the detail she adds to the undersides of it, in the areas we look at least, like little surprises.

With the other visitors settled, Victor brewed us a pot of his finest blend, while bringing us tea samples to sniff, showing off all four of his tea plant’s flowers, and explaining how they source their teas (freshness is paramount). This guy knows, and is passionate about, his tea. He also explained the “mess” (there was no mess). They are renovating part of their studio to create a cozy chill out space for tea drinkers. They also have big plans to create an outdoor, Bedouin-style tent complete with lounging sofas and many, many cushions; a place where tea drinkers can take in the farm’s valley views.

It was then that we made our fatal Christmas shopping mistake: we sat down on the couch. What with the warm stove, aromatic tea, plenty of magazines to read (including a glowing review of TeaFarm in Vancouver’s EAT magazine), rich Pearl chocolates, and insightful conversation with Victor and Margit, it was two hours before we stood up. We left refreshed, calm, and inspired…just like their tea.

TeaFarm was our only stop that day. One item ticked off our Cowichan Valley Christmas list. As I said to the Mister while we drove back home along Richard’s Trail, if this is how all our Christmas shopping is going to be, I’m looking forward to every minute of it.

How to get there


  1. Glad you’ve found the best place on the island to get a cup of tea. I think that you’ve forgotten about two other inhabitants of the teafarm. Gus and Ziggy are always there to great you and will even let you pet them if you want some extra company.

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