Gourmet

Published on May 27th, 2015 | by Susanne Mikler

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It Fits to a Tea

When passion and destiny meet there may be a pause to ponder: how did your career path lead you here? That was my question for Raelene Gannon, Tea Sommelier and Author.

Raelene is a Business Degree graduate from the University of Regina; her focus on marketing, branding and packaging led her to a career in retail where she rose quickly through the ranks of Suzy Shier among other well-known retail giants such as Crabtree and Evelyn, and Laura Secord. Raelene also took her passion for retail and opened her own store – As You Like It Fine Food and Gifts where she combined her love of retail marketing with a flair for the finer things in life including food and specialty gift items (Raelene is a selfproclaimed “foodie”).

However it was a 2009 trip to China for business that was the flashpoint in her discovery of tea (and all its splendour). In China, Raelene was feeling under the weather and a caring, elderly local provided her with a soothing cup of jasmine tea. The tea had a healing effect that was a game changer: Raelene, a confirmed coffee enthusiast, was smitten by tea. Fitting that Raelene would discover tea in China where tea has been speculated to have actually been discovered 5,000 years ago by Emperor Shen Nung!

When she returned home to Canada, Raelene went in search of the tea which had such a profound effect on her abroad. In order to purchase the teas she created a company so that wholesale tea purchases could give her the selection and quality she craved. And then it clicked. Tea became her obsession and her focus. Experimenting with blends, consulting and researching, networking and sharing – all key ingredients to her rising success in the niche world of tea.

It was a Tea Sommelier program offered at George Brown College that took her passion to a new level and after completing the program in 2010, Raelene began consulting with chefs and restaurants on menu pairing with tea. Raelene immersed herself in everything tea 24/7 and became one of Canada’s first 15 Tea Sommeliers.

tea-displayAnd then “Tea and All Its Splendour” was created. While Raelene knew that a long name may be cumbersome in web applications and such, it was a name that popped out at her and it stuck. Her trendy logo and colour scheme combine fresh greens and earth tones giving customers the comforting feel of Mother Nature and things that are good for you. Specialized tea blends and unique varieties are packaged in exclusive tins that were meticulously chosen to look great on a kitchen counter – especially one with natural stone counter tops and stainless appliances. The flair for making things look inviting and visualizing the finished product is a finely honed skill that Raelene has imported from her days in retail.

In addition to her very busy wholesale tea business, Raelene is also very active in the communities where she works and plays. She is often in stores and events talking about tea and all its splendour to eager audiences who are engaged in the trend of tea and its healing and medicinal properties and how you can include tea in your everyday cooking. In 2014 Readers Digest named tea (not just in a cup) as #7 out of 11 in new trends to watch and featured cupcakes infused with Winter Oolong Tea. Who knew? Raelene did. This year she added author to her list of tea accolades and published her new book: Tea from Cup to Plate where she features recipes using tea in a variety of applications and embodies her passion for tea and all its splendour.

Susanne MiklerI asked Raelene for her advice to those seeking careers and career advice. Her words are sage: Find your niche, really search for it, and focus on becoming the expert. Well said, Raelene; your joy of tea and all its splendour is contagious.

Susanne Mikler

Co-founder Liaison College

www.liaisoncollege.com


About the Author

Susanne Mikler

a cook with a passion for food, was nominated for 2006 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.Her special interests include Cuisine Canada Culinary, Canadian Chef Educators Association, and Women in Food Industry Management.
Susanne is the current president of WFIM: Women in Food Management.She is committed to improving the culinary arts in Canada and passionate about her role mentoring chefs and chefs-in-training.



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