CREATED IN HONOUR of the late west coast herbalist Gayle Quin, this tea company has become the passion of the love of her life, Ted Smith. Using herbs hand picked in the wild and organically cultivated herbs, Gayle’s Tea blends provide unique flavours that truly make these medicines taste divine. Steep in Love: for everything about this company is about love for oneself, the planet and each other.
As a youth on Vancouver Island, B.C., Gayle found using herbs to deal with her health problems to be much more effective than pharmaceutical drugs, which often made her sick. She moved to Saltspring Island to raise her boys and grow her medicinal herbs, where word got around she was very knowledgeable about alternative healing practices. When people came to her with their health problems she would study her books and give them some instructions, which usually included a tea. She would give them the herbs she had available, tell them where to get the rest and how to use them.
One of the first herbs Gayle used was hash, a form of cannabis, to control her menstrual cramps. When she left Saltspring Island and moved to Victoria she soon joined the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, a medical dispensary founded by Ted in 1996. Soon after joining the VCBC in 2003, Gayle became an employee, helping develop several edible and topical cannabis products. By 2006, they were together, in a relationship that was the envy of everyone who witnessed their magic.
Once Ted became aware of the depth of her herbal knowledge, staff would refer new members to her for information about their health. She started to recommend so many tea recipes for the same problems, and she had some tried and true recipes she used herself, that she started her own company called Grandmother’s Tea. Though is was only sold in the VCBC, her teas were a popular item amongst those in the know and it gave her great pride to provide these complimentary medicines.
Unfortunately cancer took all that away. First losing her breast in 2011, the last 5 years of her life were full of fleeting moments of happiness surrounded by dark moments of suffering. Grandmother’s Tea was far from a priority, though even from her hospital bed at home at the Cobble Herb Retreat she helped instruct friends to mix tea to sell, as she knew other patients needed these medicines.
During the last 2 years of her life Gayle spent almost all of her time in a hospital bed at home while Ted focused on her care. During this time Ted, and the nurses, learned a great deal about some of the homemade medicines she knew how to make for herself and he gained a tremendous amount of respect for her knowledge. While he did not think about having a tea company at the time, during the 10 years they were together he learned many things about wildcrafting, drying, preparing and storing herbs.
A few months after Gayle passed away in 2016, Ted found it impossible to continue working as a cannabis activist without the partner that helped make him so successful. It did not take long for him to realize that by creating Gayle’s Tea he could make a living doing work that was less stressful and that would build a legacy for the love of his life. Even in her death Gayle is proving to be the perfect partner for Ted, as his business and networking skills balance the exceptional recipes she left behind. Recently Ted has returned to some of his activism but his focus remains with Gayle’s Tea.
With 31 herbal tea recipes using 60 different herbs and roots, there is a wide selection to choose from. About 25 of the herbs are collected in the wild by Ted and his friends, while the rest are cultivated on organic herb farms. Eventually Ted wants to build a demonstration garden with the 35 cultivated herbs so he can help source all of the medicine from Vancouver Island but he is just getting started.
Ted Smith, Owner and Operator of Gayle’s Tea