Last week, I had the honour of meeting up with Toronto’s very own Dan Johanis, the owner of Herbal Infusions Tea Co. to chat about his wonderful boutique establishment opened half a year ago.
When I first stepped into the shop, I thought small. But then, once the conversation started, once I settled in, I realized how much this little boutique had to offer. Flavours are bursting off the walls, the accessories are unique but limitless, and the conversation was incredible. This is the place where you not only fill your cuppa every morning, but you come into Herbal Infusions to have conversation and build relationships. After the first few seconds of formality, Dan immediately transformed into a gracious host, steeping me samples and conversation just flowed.
There is a simple yet incredible story to this little establishment. Born out of the need to refuel with something other than RedBull or Gatorade after a long hard Day of training and teaching martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jistu, Dan went and discovered the power of matcha. A good cup blended correctly will wake up your senses and leave your body feeling great without that sugar and chemical buzz feeling. Combined with his extensive background in corporate finance and web design, in 2005, Dan had started up the online website for Herbal Infusions. Through many different suppliers from around the world, most interestingly Germany where the tea industry is thriving, Johanis was able to build his little establishment online and making a name for Herbal Infusions and tea all around North America. Now six years later, his work with tea is on display at a little store on Adelaide and Spadina.
Dan Johanis is a tea enthusiast through and through, and is apparent from how he talks about the weeks he would spend on a new blend creation, to how his store started up, to even his adventures in the community and around the world. Herbal Infusions is more than just a tea boutique. It is a partner for many businesses and it is a place of comfort for all who love the conversation and tea. By supporting and partnering with various boutique hotels and yoga studios, Herbal Infusions is doing something not many grassroot stores are aware with. The local is where you build relationships to keep your business going. Dan Johanis is at the store for half the time, and the other time, he is out in the community teaching people about tea and creating strong bonds with them. This kind of work is not easy and only found with people who believe in their product and passions 200%.
To me, what is most incredible, is how adventurous Dan’s blends are. The tea could simply be steeped, drank with a bit of nectar, or made into a tea frappuccino or even used as a meat rub! He introduced me to almond milk and how it can be blended into tea for a wonderful light tea blend, perfect for those looking for an alternative to milk or soy. There is pineapple in his infamous Mad Hatter tea (on hiatus) which was a huge hit with all Alice lovers and he has created the best Key Lime Coconut tea I have ever smelled, twelve weeks in the making. With his creativeness and adventurous side, there is bound to be something that everyone can choose from to satisfy their tastes.
Herbal Infusions is in a busy part of town surrounded by DavidsTea, Teopia, Starbucks, Second Cup and various other coffee shops, yet Dan Johanis makes sure to great everyone around his shop. One of his goals is to implement a tea culture. Much needed in my opinion. Starting off the day with tea eases you into the morning and allows you start with a right mind, where as other sugar loaded blended drinks will shock you into the day and most likely the sugar crash will be soon to follow. Dan loves what he does here at Herbal Infsuions and finds that “everything is fun and different everyday.”
Best of luck to Dan and Herbal Infusions. I would love to see this closer to the downtown campus where students who are hooked on coffee can have an easy access to a quick, cheap and great alternative drink to start the morning right for class. Go visit his store at 404 Adelaide Street whenever you feel like a good conversation with an awesome person and a great cuppa. He will also be at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas at the end of the month. If you’re stopping by, go check him out! Also check out their website at http://www.herbalinfusions.ca/