New business caters to chocolate and tea lovers
Chocolatier Cindy Walker, who co-owns Chocolatea at 38 King St. E. with her husband, Steve, holds some of the handmade chocolates she makes in front of the tea canisters in the store. JOHN TAPLEY/INGERSOLL TIMES/QMI AGENCY
Chocolate and tea are the specialties at a new Ingersoll business.
Professional chocolatier Cindy Walker and her husband, Steve, who are both graduates of the tea sommelier program at Fanshawe College and certified with the Tea Association of Canada, opened Chocolatea at 38 King St. E. Nov. 1.
“We see this as a great avenue to more effectively serve our existing customers and to build new ones,” said Cindy Walker.
The Walkers have been wholesaling and delivering handmade chocolates to customers for years, including at the Trail's End Farmers' Market in London, corporate clients, through the Internet at www.chocolatea.ca and from their home in Ingersoll.
“We've been blessed with the opportunity to meet a lot of great people within our community,” said Cindy Walker. “An important feature to our clients is the fact that all the chocolates are made fresh and with real ingredients.”
Completing eight courses over a two-year period, the Walkers were among the first students to graduate from Fanshawe's tea sommelier program, which was established in 2012.
With just over 100 tea sommeliers in Canada, sommelier programs were established with the assistance of tea associations.
“They knew that they needed to set a standard and a curriculum so people get the information correctly,” said Cindy Walker.
She said the program was “a rude awakening to how much history there is to tea and how much culture there is to tea.”
There are estimates that by 2020 tea drinkers will outnumber coffee drinkers in Canada, said Cindy Walker.
The Walkers plan to stock about 30 different types of teas, including varieties of white, green and black.
Like grapes used to make wine, soil and weather conditions influence tea flavours, making them unique.
Teas also offer healthy properties, including anti-oxidents, but to receive the full benefit, they must be consumed without adding anything to them.
“A good tea should stand alone. You shouldn't have anything in your teas,” said Cindy Walker. “Once you add milk, it prevents your body from absorbing (the benefits).”
Cindy Walker said assisting customers in exploring their tea tastes is breaking down what they like about tea and and what they don't like.
The Walkers are also offering a takeout “tea of the day,” rotating through their menu of teas to allow people to sample the varieties to see what they want to add to their tea collection.
The selection of chocolates and teas that Chocolatea has offered in the past will remain, but new ones will be added, including an ever-changing rotation of flavours seasonally. The Walkers also plan to sell fudge and other unique edible treats and even works by local artists.
In creating chocolate treats, Cindy Walker said she uses local produce, like strawberries, whenever possible and everything is hand cut.
“I don't tend to rely on a lot of molds,” she said.
Chocolatea is open Tuesday, Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The business can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A grand opening event is planned for Nov. 8.