Picture this: you’re driving along the Trans-Canada Highway going south, and you decide to make a left onto Mt Sicker Road. You then make a right onto Westholme Road. It’s possibly unknown to you that you’re now driving through the little community of Westholme, between Chemainus and Duncan.
You’re enjoying the farms, the trees, the winding road, and the privacy of the drive. Then, you see on your left a sign that peaks your interest: “Westholme Tea Farm.” You turn left onto Richards Trail and continue driving through the trees and calmness of nature.
Without realizing it, you reach your destination: a hidden gem in the Cowichan Valley.
Canada’s First and Only Tea Farm
Westholme Tea Farm is Canada’s only tea plantation, defying the odds, naysayers, and even Agriculture Canada who believed that tea could not be grown in this country. Typically, tea is a product made commonly in the tropical and subtropical regions.
The husband-wife business team, Victor Vesley and Margit Nellemann, who believed in their experiment, had a strong feeling about the low-lying land they had acquired. They learned that the land had been cleared by Chinese migrant workers in the late 19th century. Since the Chinese grow and make their own tea, they believed it was possible the migrant workers may have done so on the same land.
Nestled in Nature, Making Connections
Victor and Margit made the decision to turn their passion into a business, to share their love of tea and art with others and help make connections with people and nature.
He is a trained tea master, living in Japan and traveling through China; and she is a ceramic artist, creating unique tea pots and cups. With her additional background as a chef who created original tea blends, the two make a perfect pairing.
Tea is holistic, and their goal is to use their handcrafted teas to connect mind, body, spirit, and nature.
With unique tea names like “Mysteaque”, “Gunpowder”, and “Mad Hatter”, it certainly has me excited!
If this tea farm peaks your interest, you can take one of their 30-45 minute tea tours. They run on Thursdays at 2pm and Sundays at 11am between May and October by reservation (cost is $10 per person).
Journey through the garden terraces where you will hear stories of tea traditions, tea harvests, their tea making journey, the history of the barn, the tea shop, the tea room, and the gallery.
Reserve the tea room before or after the tour for tea and sweets pairings.
Since you will be walking the slopes of the tea garden, be prepared for all weather conditions and uneven ground.
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Featured image credit: Angela Hovestad.