BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND
Nobelia DaSilva never would have guessed that one newspaper article would change her life.
Soon after becoming pregnant, DaSilva decided to quit her career as a successful real estate manager. She had struggled to conceive for 10 years, and didn’t want the stress of work to affect her chances of carrying to full-term.
While on maternity leave, DaSilva began volunteering at Rogers TV, where she was eventually hired. During this time, she gave birth to her second child. But when her mother became ill and was unable to look after the children, DaSilva left her job. She also began volunteering again, but this time it would take her down a path she never expected.
“You never know where destiny will take you,” she said.
After reading an article about tea in the Waterloo Region Record, DaSilva, who was a board member at the Cambridge Fire Hall Museum, decided that the shirtless fireman calendar was getting old. Instead, she put on a very successful tea party fundraiser.
To prepare for the event, DaSilva went to a tea shop in Waterloo where she was given different teas to sample.
“Is this what tea really tastes like?” she thought.
Like many people in the corporate world, DaSilva was a coffee lover, and the only tea she had really known was the store-bought, bagged tea.
But after this day, tea became more than just a beverage. It became a way to reconnect with her children at the table every day after school. And it became her passion.
Every two weeks she would go back to the tea shop in Waterloo to try more tea and learn more about it.
DaSilva, who was on the board of directors at the Cambridge Farmer’s Market, set up a stall where she began by selling 20 tea blends.
Today, not only does DaSilva still have her stall at the market, but she is the owner of the Red Teapot, a family-run tea studio on King Street in Cambridge.
“We pride ourselves on trying new blends all the time,” said DaSilva, who creates her own teas, along with help from other local blenders.
Currently, the Red Teapot has about 140 different teas, many of which are blended for specific health issues such as stomach problems, sleep problems, stress, cold and flu and anxiety.
“We blend from a health perspective, but our focus is making sure our teas taste good.”
DaSilva also custom blends teas for her customers, who she often gets ideas from.
“I think that is what makes us unique from the bigger chains that are pre-blended,” she said.
And from her customers, DaSilva has learned not to make assumptions about who tea drinkers are.
“We have customers as young as 10,” she said.
But no matter the age, DaSilva loves to educate people about tea.
“She is very knowledgeable,” said new customer and first-time tea drinker, Steve Hahn.
DaSilva began by taking courses in the U.S. She is also a member of the Specialty Tea Institute as well as the Tea Masters Association, where, by continuing to educate herself about loose-leaf teas, she is working toward becoming a tea master.
“I want people to think of us for quality and education, as well as for being fresh and local,” DaSilva said.
“I love supporting local businesses,” she added.
The Red Teapot has teamed up with Barrie’s Asparagus Farm and Country Market to create a dehydrated asparagus tea, for example.
Next up, DaSilva, dreams of travelling to China to expand her knowledge of tea, so she can better educate her loyal customers who inspire her to constantly try new blends.
DaSilva never expected such a following, or that her business would take off like it has.
“If somebody was to tell me I’d end up here, I wouldn’t have believed them in a million years,” she said.