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How the Founder of This Tea Brand Turned Her Challenges Into Triumph

Cup of te products

In many cultures around the world, a cup of tea represents so much more than just a warm beverage—it’s a chance to commune with others, perform a sacred ritual, and show respect. For Taylor Lindsay-Noel, the CEO and founder of Cup of Té, chatting with loved ones over a hot pot of tea was one of her favourite ways to catch up with friends and family and bond over shared experiences while growing up.

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“Cup of Té is something that has always been brewing in my life—no pun intended,” Lindsay-Noel says. “I grew up drinking tea, and I always had the best conversations in my life around our kitchen island at home, sipping on a cup.”

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Cup of Té founder and CEO Taylor Lindsay-Noel

As a child, Lindsay-Noel spent hours in the gym as an aspiring Olympic gymnast, and she also had dreams of one day becoming a sports doctor. However, all of that changed one day in 2008 when she suffered a devastating accident while training that left her paralyzed for life.

In an instant, the path she had been charting for herself shifted dramatically. She continued pursuing her studies while learning to live with a disability, later attending Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) for their Radio and Television Arts program with the goal of becoming an entertainment reporter.

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Inspired by the wonderful, tea-fuelled conversations of her childhood, Lindsay-Noel launched a podcast called Teatime with Tay, where she discussed everything from embracing spirituality to promoting Black-owned businesses. As the podcast grew, she began approaching tea brands in the hope of landing a partnership, but none of the companies she reached out to seemed interested.

So, Lindsay-Noel did what any bold, resilient and determined entrepreneur would do in the face of adversity: she decided to launch a brand of her own.

“That was the birth of Cup of Té,” she says. “It quickly took over my life.”

Cup of Te boxes

Cup of Te

When she first launched the company back in 2018, Lindsay-Noel knew she wanted the brand to feel luxurious, upscale and beautiful, while still being accessible to the average tea drinker (and maybe even some die-hard coffee drinkers). She wanted to help her customers create an exceptional sensory experience every time they sat down for their daily cup, which is why the company offers a selection of premium, loose leaf teas specially made from organic ingredients and a range of chic teaware.

“Having a cup of tea is that part of your day when you can take a moment to really treat yourself,” she says. “Personally, I live for those little moments in my life, so I’m always figuring out ways to make every single unboxing feel like a treat—from the beautiful black box and silver foil it comes in, to the tea itself.”

With quality being a high priority for Lindsay-Noel, she makes a point of sourcing only the best ingredients from wholesalers all over the world. From finding the best farm in Kyoto, Japan to source matcha to batching and blending the perfect flavours, the team goes to great lengths to ensure the products are absolutely superb.

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Cup of Te matcha

Cup of Té

Some of Lindsay-Noel’s favourites right now include the Noms Berry Delight, a tantalizing blend of organic rosehips, green rooibos, hibiscus, raspberry bits and organic stevia leaf, as well as the best-selling Cream of Earl Grey, which is delicately blended with fragrant oil of bergamot and a touch of French vanilla.

Taking the time to ensure all the products the brand offers are top-notch has evidently paid off. Not only does Lindsay-Noel say that the community feedback has been incredible, but Cup of Té also had the chance to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime milestone when they made Oprah’s famous Favorite Things List in 2020.

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“It was absolutely insane being featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things List,” Lindsay-Noel says. “I honestly still can’t believe it sometimes because it just seems like such a dream. For us to be a Canadian small business and for her team to recognize that we were worthy of such a coveted spot was very validating and life changing. It completely changed the course of the business—Oprah’s golden stamp of approval just holds so much weight to it.”

Having seen so much success so early in the brand’s trajectory, Lindsay-Noel knew she wanted to give back to the community in a way that felt special and meaningful to her. Given that one of the greatest challenges she had faced since her accident besides the physical had been the mental aspects of having to adjust to life with a disability, she decided to support mental health awareness by donating $1 from each starter kit to the cause.

Cup of Té

“When I started the business, I knew that I wanted to have some kind of charitable component that was very authentic to me and integrated into the fabric of the business,” Lindsay-Noel explains. “The obvious choice would have been spinal cord injury research, but I knew I wanted to reach a wider audience and the biggest challenge of my accident besides the physical was mental, and not knowing how to talk about it. So, when I had my own business, I wanted to break that stigma and spark a greater conversation surrounding mental health because I know it affects so many people.”

In the future, Lindsay-Noel and the team at Cup of Té hope to continue building the brand so they can uplift even more people through their creations. They’re currently in the process of opening their first in-person store coming to Toronto’s Dufferin and Lawrence area this fall, while continuing to expand their line of products.

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“Right now, we are in the construction process of opening up my first in-person store, so that’s going to be really great,” she says. “Beyond that, we’re always looking for different ways to collaborate with other businesses and continue to expand our line. We’re introducing six new tea bag teas and we have a couple of really fun collaborations coming up. The sky is really the limit.”

Read more: This Black-Led Initiative Breaks Down Barriers for BIPOC Food Entrepreneurs