The Story of Lemon Lily Tea & Dessert by Deb
Have you ever wondered how Dessert by Deb's teas were first created and how the working relationship between Dessert by Deb and Lemon Lily was born? How did I come to start working for and with Lemon Lily, and how did all of this even come about? This is the story of how a love of tea in Toronto grew into something magical!
The story began in 2015. I first discovered Lemon Lily at the Toronto Tea Festival but it technically wasn't until 2016 that a seemingly random visit to their tea shop, located in Yorkville at the time, changed my life forever. In the spring of 2016, I had just recovered and come out of a lengthy battle with depression in 2014 and 2015. In an effort to start over and regain control of my life, I began a new tea blog, called The Sugared Teacup, solely devoted to tea in Toronto.
I had wanted to visit Lemon Lily's tea shop in Yorkville for awhile and thought it was the perfect time to finally do it. I was blogging again, I wanted to take photos and write about them, and of course, I wanted to buy new tea! So in May of 2016, I made my first visit to the shop and met Jason, Lemon Lily's owner. And I can honestly say that that day was one of the happiest in my life. I learned so much about their company from Jason (he spent nearly an hour just talking to me!), what being certified organic meant, and just oohing and ahhing over the tea blends and goodies. It was a beautiful spring day and I just remember feeling happy to be writing and blogging again, and so hopeful about life and happier than I'd been in a long, long time. Oh, and I walked away with my first pouch of Lemon Lily tea, Maritime Maple, which to this day remains one of my very favourites.
Is it any surprise that tea did that for me? From that point forward I became a "superfan" of Lemon Lily. Apple Pie Chai, Apple Crisp (now discontinued but one of my loves!), and others soon joined Maritime Maple in my tea stash, and later on that year, I ventured into entrepreneur and business ownership for the first time, starting my first business, The Sugared Teacup Tea Boxes and Tea Subscription in November 2016, which Lemon Lily became a vital part of during its run.
When it came time for me to make the hard decision to put The Sugared Teacup to bed by the end of 2018 in lieu of pursuing Dessert by Deb as a new business venture, I approached Lemon Lily for help. I asked Jason if he would keep me in mind should a part-time position open up after the new year, and also if he and the company would be interested in spearheading my very own line of dessert inspired loose leaf teas!
But why Lemon Lily and not another tea company? I drink many teas and am fans of many tea shops and companies. So why Lemon Lily? Personal superfandom and friendship aside, from a business perspective, scale and breadth of selection. Jason has been able to craft many, many certified organic tea blends during Lemon Lily's 7 years in business so I knew the company had the capability of handling the growth I envisioned for my own company and the selection and ingredients to help me concoct all my wild and crazy dessert ideas, not to mention the packaging, style, and aesthetic worked for me.
The idea of crafting dessert teas entirely out of certified organic ingredients posed a unique challenge for me, one that I was more than happy and willing to take on. This wasn't about dumping things together and calling it tea. Anyone can do that. There are many, many things that are not organic and that are not accessible to our company either because of astronomical pricing and/or availability. I had no issue working under those parameters; I like a challenge. (But, you know, in the words of Lisa Simpson, "duh, a challenge I could do!").
Times were very hard for me in the new year. I was facing a lot of uncertainty as I worked on creating my new business and I was worried about life and finances and everything in between. And then somehow...the stars aligned and as luck would have it, a part-time job opened up and I began working at Lemon Lily in February 2019 and soon after, I started work on my very first 6 dessert tea blends for Dessert by Deb's launch, and here we are, about to launch another monster of a collection this August!
It has been a whirlwind. To go from a superfan customer to a business client to an employee and collaborative partner of a company I was a superfan of all in a matter of a handful of years has been nothing short of fantastical for me. I have learned so much about ingredients, tea blending, product development, wholesale, business, and the industry in general and I continue to learn every day. There couldn't have been a better education for me. Parts of my life are always going to be hard; there's no getting around that. But my goodness do I ever feel grateful and lucky to be doing what I'm doing. Lemon Lily and Dessert by Deb have become my safe havens and I truly hope that this journey never has an ending.