'You can't be everyone's cup of tea'
Tania Lodi on the diagnosis that led her to found Tania's Teahouse - and why the thing that consumes so much of her mind space is chai
Describe your work in a sentence.
I hustle hard, breathe deeply, and drink tea.
The biggest learning point or experience in your life.
During my last two years in university, I had persistent and agonising muscle and inflammation issues that led to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. I felt riddled and despaired by the constant pain and exhaustion of this autoimmune disorder, and found the only thing that made me feel better was my morning cup of tea. I soon researched teas with health benefits, began drinking more of them, and experimented with flavours and blends.
I began going to cafés to have me-time, and used to get lost in the aesthetic appeal and homey vibe of local tea/coffee houses in Toronto. This excited me, made me feel whole, and I decided I wanted to open my own café, so other people could escape their daily nuances, and whatever life challenges they were facing over good food and a cuppa.
I learned that passion can get you through anything, and can help you harness inner strength you didn't even know you had. I firmly believe there's no such thing as the light at the end of the tunnel - that light is you. We are capable of so much, once we gather the strength to carry ourselves through.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Being surrounded by endless streams of caffeine (just kidding!). Creating a space of positivity and seeing my dream being lived out. It's great to see people enjoy our teas, tell us how relaxed and at home they feel, chuckle at the puns on the menu and leave with a fuller happier stomach (and mood). I had a group of customers visit recently during the holidays, with their suitcases and they excitedly said they came straight from the airport!
What advice would you give your younger self, if you could?
You can't be everyone's cup of tea. A former people-pleaser, I later realised that you don't need validation to gain confidence and self-worth. Don't waste your time seeking approval from people who don't matter.
The number one item on your wish list.
If you could move to any place in the world, what place would that be and why?
Japan. I'd love to open an urban teahouse there, and learn more about matcha, and Japanese tea blends! The number of trendy cafés they have there is astonishing (for example, cat cafés, bookshelf cafés, etc).
Favourite fictional character of all time - and why.
Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. Sure, she was super strange, but she owned it and rocked it. She was smart as hell and comfortable in her own skin.
The best thing you've ever bought yourself and why?
My first cup of tea at Davids Tea (a tea place in Toronto with funky flavours, that opened up my eyes, and tastebuds, to the wide realm of teas!). For me, tea became happiness at a time when I was going through challenging health issues.
A superpower you wish you had?
Telekinesis - oh, the tasks I could carry out with my mind, without having to lift a finger! Let's just say my room and car would be spotless! And I could literally build the next branch of my café out of my mind!
If you were head of your country, what is the first thing you'd do?
Free tea for all! Soak up the health benefits (including: decreased anxiety/depressive symptoms, healthier heart, stomach, liver, lungs, respiratory system and cleaner teeth!). Necessary for a healthier, stronger community, I feel.
- Staff Reporter