Silk Road Celebrates Victoria’s 150th With Locally Grown Tea

left: Locally-grown tea leaves right: Silk Road Tea Company's Victoria Tribute Blend. Photos by Deanna Ladret

I think we can all agree that our sweet little Victoria, on the cusp of its 150th birthday, is really starting to blossom. Culture, infrastructure, music, food, wine and community seem stronger than ever in this city. Now, thanks to Silk Road Tea Company‘s Daniela Cubelic and associates, we have something new to brag about: we grow tea here!


Locally grown tea, you ask? Yes. But isn’t tea supposed to be a sub-tropical plant? One look out the window on a chilly June afternoon confirms that we are definitely nowhere near India. Well, as it turns out—and as proved by our island’s rapidly growing wine industry—it is possible to cultivate warmer-climate plants here, but it’s not exactly easy. Enter Cubelic and several unnamed co-conspirators, who have been busily working away for the past three years, growing tea plants in an undisclosed location within the city and most recently, harvesting the leaves for production. This month marks the launch of Silk Road Tea Company’s Victoria Tribute Blend, a limited edition homage to the city’s 150th anniversary.


While developing the Victoria Tribute Blend, Cubelic explains she “tried to create something that reminded me of Victoria; its gardens and plantings”. The result is a “sweet, mild” black tea, featuring locally harvested lavender and rose petals and a blend of black teas from around the world, including the debut batch from her local experiment. Her recommendation: drink Victoria clear, or with local honey, or add a shot of Victoria Gin with a teaspoon of blackberry jam.


I probed a little more about the mysterious tea growing production, but Cubelic is tight-lipped about the project. She has been working with tea scientists “from overseas”, as well as a private gardener under top-secret conditions but will confirm that the tea plants are being grown in the Greater Victoria area. She explains that growing and producing tea plants requires expertise and experimentation to find the optimum combination of cultivar, temperature and soil conditions (see Creating a Tea Masterpiece (May/June 2011) . Some challenges they’ve faced so far include our climate’s lack of sustained bouts of hot weather (no kidding) which affects antioxidant levels and taste, our varied ‘terroir’ compared to soils in the traditional tea regions of the world, and of course, our damp/cool winter temperatures. Despite the odds, the team has succeeded, and now we all get to have a taste.


As the project is still in its infancy and harvest limited, the Victoria Tribute Tea is only available while supplies last. But Daniela plans to work towards turning the experiment into something bigger––one that would no doubt give Victoria a special spot on the global tea map. “Victoria has a unique position in Canada because of our tea culture, history, and food community,” says Cubelic. “I would really love to see a viable industry of tea production here”.



Silk Road Tea Company

1624 Government Street

Victoria, BC

(250) 704-2688


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