Turning a new leaf

December 6, 2012 -

Shabnam Weber is president and CEO of the Tea Emporium.

by Marcy Cornblum, QMI Agency

She first fell in love with specialty tea shops while living in Germany. Weber and her now ex-husband owned and operated Bankers Restaurant in Cologne, Germany.

“We would take weekend trips to Brussels and Paris.” Being an astute observant of culture, Weber couldn’t understand “why nobody had done for tea what specialty coffee companies had done for coffee.

Just four months after the couple had arrived back in Canada, the Webers opened the first Tea Emporium in Toronto in 2001.

Currently, there are four retail locations, an online store (www.theteaemporium.com) and plans to expand. Weber is also head instructor for the Tea Association of Canada and a widely sought-after speaker.

According to Weber, the trend of the moment is “tea and health. Health is a big part of what tea is. I’m selling a lifestyle.” Weber’s satisfaction comes from “seeing the smiling faces of her clients drinking tea. Sometimes it’s as if they are drinking tea for the first time.

Weber recently invited Celebrity Spaces into her home.

Q: How would you describe your home in two words?
A: Warm and comfortable.

Q: Tell us about your home.
A: I live in a semi-detached, 1,800-square-foot home in the Beaches. I have lived here for 11 years. The house has been completely renovated and an addition put on. I truly adore my garden. It’s low maintenance and I love the trickle of the water feature. It’s my place to relax and feel safe.

Q: What attracted to you to this space?
A: There is a close-knit neighbourhood feel to the area and yet I can be downtown in only five minutes.

Q: Who shares this home?
A: I live with my 14-year-old cat Lotus and my one-year-old puppy Oscar Wilde. We all live here on Lotus’ terms; of course. Oscar is a love sponge.

Q: What is your favourite room and why?
A: My sitting area at the front — there’s just an oversized chair and ottoman. I spend hours in here, working, reading or napping. I also enjoy spending time in my kitchen. I love to cook.

Q: How would you describe your decorating style?
A: Comfortable — with a mix of modern and traditional. My colours are mostly neutral. The front room and sitting area are taupe. There is an exposed brick wall at the entrance of the house. My bedroom is grey/blue with a cherry blossom branch stenciled on one wall. I had an enormous mirror made for the room. The ceiling fan is made using woven wicker. There is a tapestry I inherited from my grandmother draped over the corner of the headboard with some Tibetan prayer beads. There are no cupboards in this bedroom through choice. I converted one of the other two bedrooms into a walk-in closet. My kitchen has a practical and functional style. One wall is painted red and covered with mason jars full of spices, pasta and rice. It is my pantry and a wall sculpture. Then of course there is the tea cupboard!

Q: What is your fondest memory in this home?
A: My last birthday. It was a big one for me and my friends and family threw me a surprise party. I was surrounded by love and knew that I would never be alone.

Q: What’s the one item in this house you can’t live without?
A: We learn over time that you can truly live without your physical belongings. I can’t live without a home. I need my nest.

Q: Weekends at home, what are we most likely to find you doing?
A: Reading, entertaining friends.

Q: If your walls could talk, what would they say?
A: “This home has seen much happiness and some pain and it still provides a peaceful sense of home.”

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