When an inter-continental love story results in a small-town Canada niche tea company, you know there’s a great story behind it. The Canadian Barley Tea Company, also known as mo’mugi, is a Shuswap-based company created and managed by two sisters with a passion for bringing barley tea to the Canadian market, and sharing it not only with their local community, but with the world.
Janice and Cilla are the sisters behind mo’mugi, a company that uses locally grown, organic barley to create a delicious barley tea. Their tea is inspired by Japan’s wildly popular drink called mugicha; the primary beverage of choice in Japan for people of all ages, including babies. In fact, its history is so rich and long-standing that Samurais used to drink it up to 500 years ago! If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.
The sisters were initially introduced to the drink when Janice moved from Toronto to Japan in 1998 to pursue a career in teaching English to Japanese students. Upon her arrival, she quickly realized the popularity of mugicha, decided to try it, and was immediately hooked. With no calories, caffeine or sugar, and a delicious nutty flavour, how could she resist?
Shortly after moving to Japan and getting into the swing of her new life there, Janice met her future husband, Satoshi, and fell in love. Within a few years, Janice, her husband and their children travelled to Canada each summer to visit her Canadian family, always ensuring that they brought their beloved mugicha with them. Upon realizing that the barley used in the tea was actually Canadian-grown, Janice knew she had an amazing opportunity to introduce Canada to this incomparable beverage, and reached out to her sister, Cilla.
Fast forward to today, The Canadian Barley Tea Company is an established company selling mo’mugi barley tea across Canada, both in-store and online. Within two years, they aim to have a partnership with a food distribution company to make their products even more widely available, with the goal of having their tea in every British Columbian household, encouraging healthy drinks and an active lifestyle across the province.
Using organic barley of the utmost quality and grown locally in the Okanagan, Janice and Cilla have worked tirelessly to create the only roasted barley tea brand in Canada, and have the ultimate goal of sharing their unique blend with Canadians from coast to coast. Served hot or cold, mo’mugi tea is naturally caffeine- and sugar-free, an excellent source of antioxidants, and only composed of one ingredient: natural, organic British Columbian barley.
In addition to providing an exceptional (not to mention delectable) all-natural product, Janice and Cilla also endeavour to make their company’s environmental footprint as minimal as possible, ensuring that their pouch packaging is non-landfill recyclable so it can be recycled into fuel instead of sitting in a landfill for years to come.
“We’re most proud of winning the 2019 Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur Green Award because our tea bags are compostable via the new municipal waste pickup, we have a small carbon footprint, and our pouch packaging is recyclable,” Cilla stated proudly. “We are thrilled to also be supporting local organic farmers and businesses so the money stays in the community.
As a small-town business with big goals, Janice and Cilla understand the importance of giving back to their own community. Within the next five years, in addition to having their tea reach all corners of Canada, the sisters hope to be mentors at Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur and the Tsuts’weye Network, as well as be in a position to be able to give back even more to the community through donations to the Downtown Salmon Arm Farmers Market food box, the food bank, and other companies that support local residents.
With a dream that started in Japan and has led them back to running a successful business in Canada, Janice and Cilla are poised to [tea]ch Canadians what barley tea is all about.
To experience their incredible mo’mugi tea for yourself, it is available for purchase in your local grocery stores and can be ordered online, or visit www.canadianbarleytea.com for a detailed list of locations where you can shop in person.