TEA LEAVES is three things:
  • a local tea tasting bar
    and boutique
  • an online community and
    internet tea boutique
  • a tea sommelier
    consulting service
Tea Leaves is Canada’s leading purveyor of fine loose-leaf teas, and the creation of KAREN HARTWICK, Canada’s tea sommelier.

Tea has been a lifelong passion for Karen. “I grew up knowing that tea is so much more than a drink, thanks to the many hours I spent sharing a pot of tea with my grandmother,” says Karen. “She would prepare tea and I had my special teacup – those were nurturing times for me. Then there was the job I had as a teenager serving at a Swiss teahouse – I learned a lot there. And since I was always involved in my parents’ businesses, sharing my fascination with tea through a business of my own just seemed the natural way to go.”


Karen created Tea Leaves to make fine teas accessible by sourcing and sharing the finest loose-leaf teas from around the world. This led to the launch of TEA LEAVES TEA TASTING BAR in April, 2002, in Stratford, Ontario, the internationally renowned home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Mecca for lovers of theatre, fine food and shopping. The tea tasting bar offers a hundred teas and tea experiences for up to 12 people at a time, as well as a range of handpicked specialty items like cups, pots, trays and more.


Karen also brings the ancient ingredients and rituals of “the way of tea” into the digital age through her online shopping site and her online community of tea aficionados: the TEA LEAVES COMMUNITY, or Tea LC. Through her online boutique and free newsletter, Karen can keep hundreds of tea lovers and explorers on the forefront of knowledge and developments in this rich and varied field.


Along the way, Karen earned her accreditation as a CERTIFIED TEA SOMMELIER through the Specialty Tea Institute based in New York. She is now a consultant to the hospitality industry, designing custom tea menus, personal blends and private labels. She carefully matches tea selections to the food and ambience of restaurants, hotels, clubs and special events.