Shuswap barley tea company featured on upcoming episode of Dragons' Den
A Shuswap barley tea company will be featured in an upcoming episode of the CBC's TV show Dragons’ Den and is expanding its reach around B.C.
The Canadian Barley Tea Company recently began selling mo'mugi, a barley tea with roots in Japan’s mugicha, at Mission Hill Winery’s boutique and at Wedge Cheesery in Vernon, among other places in B.C. and was founded by sisters Cilla Watkins and Janice Ishizaka
The company has been operating out of Salmon Arm for the last year and a half and will be featured on Season 15 of the Dragons’ Den. Aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts and products on the show to a panel of Canadian business experts who have the cash and the know-how to make it happen.
Watkins said the barley is grown in Armstrong and can be served hot or cold. “It’s always very smooth… and I came to love that,” she said. It tastes like puffed wheat and doesn’t have that bitterness that tea can taste like when steeped too long.
Watkins and Ishizaka started the company after Ishizaka got the idea while living in Tokyo. Still there to this day, Ishizaka discovered the 500-year-old tea she commonly drank overseas was made with Canadian barley, so the sisters decided to bring it to Canada.
They sold the tea at farmer’s markets, craft shows and festivals, before growing to work with the online store Tea Desire, which is based out of Sicamous.
“People were very excited about it (at the farmer’s markets),” Watkins said.
The team initially would go through a single 20-kilogram bag of barley every two months, but now the Armstrong barley company delivers about seven to eight times as much, Watkins said.
They hope to also expand flavours and will be experimenting with a mint tea flavour next, but their dreams are bigger than that.
“What we would really love is for everyone to enjoy this as an everyday staple, like when you go grocery shopping, it’s in your cart,” Watkins said, adding they’d like to be in every grocery store where people can easily access it.
Watkins can’t unveil what being on Dragons’ Den was like, as the episode hasn’t yet aired.
To find out more about mo'mugi and to find out where it can be found in-stores, visit the company’s website.
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