Every year, I host an outdoor summer soiree for my close friends and my Tea Emporium team. And so, his past Saturday I hosted yet another summer garden party at my house and it was absolutely delightful. An evening of chatter and laughs ensued, accompanied by drinks, homemade food and special comedy performances by my amazing puppy, Oscar.

I have put out some appetizers to start – some olives, pita and hummus dip, a delicious batch of meatballs, sandwiches, fruit, scones and some lovely tiny tea pastries. I also made a cold, creamy, cucumber soup that was such a refreshing addition to the hot day and has remained a favorite of mine for the past few years! A few glasses of wine in and the dinner was served. I prepared salads, sauces and sides to go along with falafels, meat skewers and pitas. Each year, I make a buffet styled table and let the guests choose what they prefer and create their own dishes. Needless to say, the dinner was delicious! For desert, I served a nut and dates confection with some dried fruits and grapes to complement the taste.

Later in the evening, we moved inside to avoid mosquito biting and of course to cozy up and continue our chatter. The time flew by very quickly, I barely noticed the wine bottles slowly emptying and the folks slowly getting sleepy after a good meal. I love this occasion to get together because there is nothing better than being surrounded by family and friends. I love having company over, cooking for them and making them feel comfortable and relaxed. All of us rarely get any time to do this, to just enjoy food and drinks in a calm, relaxed environment and share a warm memory (until next year of course!) of this wonderful gathering.

Here are a few photos from the evening!

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I want to talk a little bit about my experience at the World Tea Expo that took place on June 7-9 in Las Vegas. And the reason for that is because this type of exhibition is very important for the development of the business and its approach to innovation when moving forward. My company is constantly growing and changing and so it is crucial to share new knowledge and new technology when it comes to moving forward. The World Tea Expo is first of all a trade show, which means that business owners can promote, share and exchange ideas regarding the betterment of the tea industry. Second of all, the Tea Expo is a conference that specializes in not only tea but also tea related products where industry professionals and tea enthusiasts can gain product knowledge and spend their time networking and building new acquaintances. At the Expo, I had the pleasure of hosting a focus testing – “Le Nez du The” (The Nose of Tea), where participants were guided using aroma vials, where they learned about the intricacies of the aromas of various teas. The purpose of the focus testing was show the participants that anyone can develop a skill of identifying teas by their aromas and that each tea is just as unique as different grapes used to make wine. The focus testing turned out to be fun and enlightening and I look forward to expanding the line up of teas for future events!

A side note on the actual Expo: while walking down the aisles and examining some of the exhibits, I have noticed a huge variety of tea products – anything from bubbly drinks with tea in them, to chocolates and confectioneries made with tea. It is too much to take in sometimes because of all the different approaches to incorporate this wonderful ingredient. Yet when it all came down to what I wanted to see in my stores, I decided to stay collected and even though my inner eager child was bursting with excitement, I came with a virtual check list, and had to stick with it. I have to admit, some of the technology that I have seen made me very curious. As the tea industry grows, so do the machines – presses, strainers, brewers, steepers, you name it, they had it! I would be lying if I said I didn’t want half of those items, but that is just the tea enthusiast in me. Overall I think it is a wonderful event and I strongly recommend any tea lovers to visit one of these just to get a sense of how big the tea industry has gotten and how many options and new ideas there are when it comes to future developments. I had a great time, I have met some amazing people and I will definitely keep coming back for more.

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This past Sunday, the Second Harvest delivered a phenomenal event – the Toronto Taste, and we made sure not to miss it! The Tea Emporium is so proud to have been a part of this amazing food and drink event at the ROM, featuring the finest chefs in the city and the most elaborate dishes. The Second Harvest’s Toronto Taste event gathers and unites people in order to support hunger relief in the community and to promote food rescue, and that is exactly why we were so thrilled in participating. We also strongly believe that supporting local communities is essential, and we continuously provide our support in order to create a better city and promote a harmonious environment.

The food was absolutely delicious, but to describe it all is close to impossible! Among stands and beautiful food displays, the mesmerizing martini bar and wine booths, we found some room to stand and enjoy some dishes, among them being handmade pasta, deep fried zucchini flowers, trout slices on cubes of watermelon, peach and blueberry parfaits, freshly bakes bread, exquisite wine and spicy martinis – our heads were spinning!

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The event was split into two programs – the first, where guests gathered outside for live music and a taste of freshly prepared food artistry – and second, an evening program which was inside the ROM building and featured elegant wines, some delicious pilsners and an array of iced teas (we decided to show off our Madame Butterfly and Black Currant teas as iced and Fujian White Rose and Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling as our hot alternatives). The evening program also featured a fine wine auction, including 2004 Domaine Chislaine Barthod Les Cras, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru; 1999 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac; 2001, Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin and a 1990 Chateau Margaux, all appraised by Robert Jull, owner of Vinifera. The great thing about this? All proceeds go to charity!

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I have very exciting news to share with you all! I have been nominated for the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 awards program, Canada’s women’s entrepreneurial achievement award. I am so happy to be a part of this program for many reasons. For starters, the PROFIT W100 celebrates women’s accomplishments and our business achievements. The program also offers practical advice and provides women with inspiration on how to achieve desired business goals and guarantee its growth (the winner is determined through a composite score that considers the size, profitability and growth rate of the company). I am so proud to be nominated, personally and professionally, it is such a great honor and an exciting opportunity!

But this isn’t all! I have been nominated for another award – The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards! This award provides a great recognition to women entrepreneurs that continuously contribute to the local, national and global economies. Both of these awards give an opportunity for the business to advance, and for the entrepreneur to network and create a crucial visibility system for their business. For me personally, it is imperative that my business is constantly participating in various industry associations, committees and boards because it is important to contribute ideas and set goals that are beneficial for the business and its loyal patrons.

I will also be speaking at the 3rd Annual CAWEE Afternoon Tea on July 19th! I will be giving a presentation on the history of tea and celebrating the successes of women executives and entrepreneurs. For more information on the event please visit http://cawee.net/shop/annual-high-tea-2013/ and look out for an upcoming Tea Emporium newsletter for further details.