For over 20 years, we operated as the Algonquin Tea Company, making herbal teas from amazing plants that grow in one of the truly beautiful places of the world — known to paddlers, campers and nature lovers as Algonquin Park (pronounced al-gone-kwin). In 2021 we changed our name to Wild Canadian Tea, offering both herbal tea and caffeinated teas.
Our company began because of the wilderness that I consciously chose to live in. Let me tell you about Algonquin park because it will tell you a lot about our guiding principles as a company.
Imagine a park with over 2,300 lakes, 1.9 million acres, no electricity or wifi, just vast untamed spaciousness, abundance of wild plants and animals, moose and bears and wolves as neighbours. It’s a place that asks you to paddle hard in the wind, lets you float while watching eagles and dragonflies, fills your nostrils with pine and cedar oil, and opens your heart as the loons call from lake to lake.
Humbled in this presence you realize the wild part of you knows this place, and you carry it in your heart and long to return as soon as you leave. This area has inspired many artists, including the renowned Group of Seven.
It was the friendship of a painter and herbalist, Steven Martyn, that brought me to live on the edge of the park. I was a city gal, loaded with degrees, and working in advertising and running with a pack that liked late nights, good music and exploring the evolution of consciousness. All of it was wonderful, but my spirit called me to get out into the wild so that nature could take me deeper into the known and unknown.
The idea for the tea company began with sweet gale that grows along the riverbanks which Steven and I harvested by canoe. Harvesting and growing the original blends of Algonquin Tea has been a beautiful time of – acknowledging the majesty of the area as well as finding the connections between plants, healing and magic.
So magical in fact that I began a column in Vitality Magazine called Sacred Journeys, about living with nature, off the grid and without running water; having a pet porcupine, learning that we have instinctive ‘muscles’ that drag us around so that we will ‘remember’ what we already know, by connecting us to the intelligence that is nature. One of the most rewarding aspects of working with plants and nature is discovering that you are always in dialogue and all we have to do is listen, and be present.
Isn’t that what drinking tea is all about? Being present. Take a few minutes to stop time, and acknowledge the now moment, whatever it might be… Perhaps we are coming in from the cold and appreciating that feeling, or we’re visiting someone we really enjoy and we put the kettle on for a cup of tea. When I am alone, getting my tea in hand lets me do something for myself that marks the moment before I write, meditate or do yoga or curl up with a good read or a call to a friend. It lets me feel gathered in, so I can connect deeper.
The herbs we use are sung to, the water is given tobacco to bestow blessings, the sun and the earth are thanked. We ask that they offer each drinker their best and enjoy being transformed by their experience with us, for they are our teachers, just as we teach them.
The plants here have strong wild spirits and when you harvest them, they speak to you. Some are more chatty than others. Nature guided my first partner with stories and visions about which herbs to blend together. We put tobacco down to say thanks, in the way of the original peoples here, and will not harvest if the plants do not want it. When wild harvesting we only harvest one year’s growth and only two-fifths of that growth and do not return for two years.
We graze like deer when harvesting. Plants and this land have been sung to for generations by those who are from this land, and now each of us needs to learn again to sing songs of thanks, the way all our ancestors have done. It reconnects us like a tree spreading deep tap roots, and ‘turns on’ dormant knowing. It is a returning home, to sink your feet, hands and heart into the earth… and listen to a great telling of our own remembering.
While I no longer publish my blog, you can find my insights at vitalitymagazine.com. Steven and his family run a nature school, thesacredgardener.ca.
For years, many of our friends/customers asked for pairings of herbs with caffeinated teas and so, Wild Canadian Tea was born – with different lines – the Algonquin Collection, Wild@Heart and a stand-alone Pine Tea. Our teas are available loose and in tea bags, online here, or in wonderfully supportive stores around the world. I have created a company that has a consciously curated and close relationship with the land, the plants, and with you.
The best ingredients are the wild ones.
Green economics is a heart path where we can honour all our relations. All Blessings. All Love. All of Us.
— Kim Elkington – President and Founder
Sharing the Love for Clean Water
Algonquin Tea donates to Water First to help all indigenous communities have access to clean water
Wild@Heart donates to The Council of Canadians fighting for clean water
WildCanadian Pine Tea donates to Ottawa River Keeper