Story By Betty Carpick

For artist Eleanor Albanese, tea is not only a venerable and romantic liquid infusion, but a catalyst. Her hand-crafted premium tea blends contribute to her inspired exploration of beauty, family, storytelling, history and connections to good food, and community.

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, the multi-talented maker and creator is a generous member of the community known for her love of sharing a cup of tea and recognizable by her evolving fashion style. Compassionate, inquisitive, and environmental, her independent and collaborative arts practice engages people of all ages and abilities by bringing stories to life through theatre, writing, art making, and other possibilities.

In 2015, Albanese founded Tea of Fortunata in honour of her Italian grandmother, who would read the leaves from chamomile and mint grown in the backyard garden. Fortunata Albanese’s pleasure in living life at a conscious pace as an integral part of nature inspires her granddaughter. “It’s hard to separate food and family and culture and art making,” Albanese says. “They’re all one and the same.”

Tea of Fortunata—or Eleanor’s Teas, as they’re affectionately known—are an inspired local aromatic blend of garden and craft. They are, in essence, an elixir for the imagination. Plants and berries harvested from family gardens and the boreal forest are combined with ethically sourced organic ingredients for black, green, white teas and herbal tisanes. In true poetic form, each carefully curated blend has its own personality and evokes its name through its flavours and beautifully composed hand-painted labels made by Albanese. She provides old fashioned delivery of her teas and quietly continues Fortunata’s practice of reading tea leaves.

“The whole process is an evocative sensory experience. Tea provides an inspiration to connect.” Albanese says. “Tea is intimate, personal—a ceremony of slowness.”

Each Tea of Fortuna’s over 20 blends has at least one garden ingredient such as bergamot, clover, pansies, sunflower, black currants, raspberry—reminders of where we live. Earl of Poesy, Nonna’s Notte, Crimson Forest, The Novena Sisters, Pearl Moon, and others stimulate the heart in ways too subtle to be replicated by monolithic monoculture, providing a teaspoon of encouragement to be mindful and take pleasure in sharing and conviviality.

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