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Genuine Tea: this tea truly fills your cup

Genuine Tea: steeped in a sense of adventure  

You couldn’t write a better movie plot if you tried: a brave Canuck and a charming Brit meet, fall in love and set off on a multi-year adventure in search of the world’s finest loose-leaf teas.  

Onlythat’s actually how Toronto, Ontario-based was born.  

Genuine Tea co-founders, Sarah Wilcox and David O’Connor, took up residence in Taiwan for five years, where they steeped in the local tea scene, learned Mandarin and traveled through 20 different countries around Asia to source their handcrafted, artisan teas.  

The tea-loving twosome started out small, selling their teas at local farmer’s markets and through independent Toronto-area coffee shops. But then, in 2019, Genuine Tea appeared on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, partnered with investor and businesswoman Arlene Dickinson and saw their sales triple.  

“That whole Dragon’s Den experience is what really propelled us to the next level,” says David.  

But what the tea leaves couldn’t tell them was that a global pandemic would bring their business to a crashing halt.  

“A lot of our café partners ended up having to close their doors, so we really had to figure out how to navigate that challenge and shift our business,” says Sarah.  

A collection of genuine tea's products on a wooden table

Genuine Tea goes digital in a big way…and chooses .CA  

For Genuine Tea, that meant shifting their business online. And they not only survived the pandemicbut thrived. To David, creating a strong online presence was a must-have to showcase and sell products, and build a more direct line of communication with their customers.  

“Owning that customer relationship is more important than it ever has been in the past,” he says. “With a good, polished website, you can communicate your values and tell your customers who you are, and then they can tell you how much they love your products.”  

What’s morehaving a .CA domain is something the pair see as an important differentiator in a crowded, competitive tea space.  

“The tea industry is dominated by large multi-nationals and publicly traded companies. So, with a .CA, we’re saying we’re proudly local, you’re supporting a mom n’ pop business and we’re able to give back to our community through your support of us,” says David. 

Taking a stand for mental health and wellness  

The pair have also used their website as a place to promote mental health and wellness, donating one per cent of all their proceeds to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).   

“During COVID we realized a lot of people were really struggling,” says David. “Now, more than ever, people need to learn the tools and learn to communicate how they feeland we think tea is a great vehicle to do that.”  

“Our motto at Genuine Tea is ‘drink well, live well,’” says Sarah. “We believe that, through tea, you can live healthier lifestylesboth mentally and physically. It just gives you that time to yourself to slow down.” 

Sarah and Dave, co-founders of Genuine tea smiling

Reading the tea leaves  

As far as what’s on the horizon, Genuine Tea has expanded further into the health space, partnering with a nutritionist to develop a new line of adaptogenic wellness teas that boost immunity, help with sleep, deliver calm and improve digestion.  

“We think the future is great, it’s really bright,” says David. “We’ve realized that we have a really high customer return ratecustomers really love us. We’re up 40 per cent year over year.  Because we’re online and because of our .CA, we’re able to see that. And we’re able to have these growing relationships with our customers.” 

“We’re confident that now, more than ever, the sky’s the limit for Genuine Tea.”  

You can follow Genuine Tea on Instagram, and check out their blog for tea tips, recipes and more!  

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