TORONTO — For years, Daniel Lewis has been crafting teas that draw scores of customers with witty names like Usain Jolt, Matcha Made in Heaven, and Nutflix and Tea, but weeks ago it was his wife Renata that stumbled across her own crowning glory.
He had been toying with a special blend of Ceylon orange pekoe, dried strawberries, safflowers and chocolate, when his wife suggested naming it When Harry Met Meghan — an homage to Britain’s Prince Harry and his future wife Meghan Markle. The flavours are said to symbolize love, while the final mix also features silver sugar pieces called dragees and purple sprinkles to represent royalty.
The sparkly blend, which sells in loose leaf form for $8.56 per 50 grams or by the cup at their shop, places their Brampton, Ont.-based business in a growing group of Canadian companies hoping to cash in on the royal couple’s wedding.
Ahead of the big day on May 19, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta stores selling imported British treats have made sure they’ve got plenty of Jaffa Cakes, Flake chocolate bars, clotted cream, scones and mince pies to sell to customers throwing royal wedding-themed parties. Many are also stocking tea sets, mugs, T-shirts and flags emblazoned with photos of the couple.
Others are taking their link to the royal wedding one step further, creating products specifically for the event, like the When Harry Met Meghan tea the Lewises said is already a hit online and at their shop called T by Daniel.
“People from all over have been driving in, online orders skyrocketed over the last week and we are still trying to fulfill those orders,” Lewis said, noting many of the requests for the product have come from the U.S. ”It is just crazy.”
It is the second tea they’ve made with royal connotations. The first came last year when Prince Charles toured Canada for the country’s 150th birthday and the Lewises were invited to an army base in Trenton, Ont., to serve him their Lion Chai tea.
The prince quickly became a fan, soon after placing an order of the Lion Chai, a tea they’ve only ever sold by the cup at their shop.
“We did break the code,” said Lewis, who added that he sent the tea along with another brew called Polo with the Prince, a traditional English breakfast tea with two flavours that he heard the prince enjoys: lemon and strawberry.
His teas aren’t as wacky as the wares some overseas companies are flogging ahead of the wedding. Already, condoms, colouring books, socks, earrings, bowties and even a cereal called Harry and Meghan’s Wedding Rings are available online and in U.K. stores.
Andy Bradshaw, the owner of Sherlock’s The British Store locations in Surrey and Maple Ridge, B.C., isn’t stocking anything zany for the wedding, but will sell cups and saucers with the couple’s faces on them and Union Jack-emblazoned napkins and flags for those hosting parties for the nuptials.
Bradshaw pre-sold a lot of the wedding-specific products, mostly to Americans, shortly after ordering them months ago.
So far, he is seeing interest from Canadian shoppers in the royal wedding, but “it is not the same hype” he saw when Prince Harry’s brother, who is second in line for the British throne, wed Kate Middleton in 2011.
“William and Kate was really, really big for us mainly because of their situation,” he said. “I think Harry and Meghan are bigger in the U.S.”
He expects more products to flood the market once Markle steps out in her wedding dress and manufacturers race to create commemorative items with photos from the day, but isn’t sure how many Canadians will clamour for royal merchandise after the nuptials.
Those tempered expectations haven’t put a damper on royal wedding plans from Toronto-based charity Action Against Hunger Canada, an international organization that aims to address food scarcity and malnutrition. In exchange for a donation to their organization that can be made through a virtual garden they’ve set up online, the charity is offering to send personalized well wishes to the royal couple on behalf of donors.
“The royals have been great about always trying to draw attention to charity and we are putting our hand up,” said executive director Danny Glenwright, noting the lack of funding for non-profits and the increased competition for donations in the sector. ”We think a lot of Canadians that do follow the royal family might want to do something to mark that occasion.”