In an Oak Bay kitchen “tasteless ice cubes” of frozen tea gave way, with much sweat equity, to tasty organic frozen tea treats.
The tea creation came to fruition after a moment in the Baker family kitchen just over two years ago.
Brothers David, then 8, made tea while Josh, then 10, made traditional frozen pops. A conversation ensued that left mom, Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker, wondering ‘what if?’
David, hadn’t eaten refined sugar since he was three, Laslo-Baker explains, preferring and thriving on a “from the earth” diet. She envisioned her younger child enjoying a healthy pop on a hot summer day. Backed, and encouraged, by her PhD focused on maternal-fetal toxicology she started by learning more about the science behind tea.
“I was shocked to find health benefits head to toe,” Laslo-Baker says. “I was blown away. We started drinking way more tea. There’s a real science here.”
Within two months DeeBees Organics was formal and the long road toward production that now stocks grocers freezers across the region, and nation as far as Quebec, contain five different flavours of the TeaPops.
The entrepreneur figures they’re hitting a niche, and it’s well-timed with people looking for desert options that check a list of health musts.
Certified organic, kosher, non-GMO, nut free and naturally gluten-free and vegan, they’re produced with fresh brewed Fair Trade tea (in most cases a naturally non caffeinated variety) and organic fruit.
Those ingredients backstop the first of three pillars of the business – pureness.
Second is philanthropy. The business donates partial proceeds to Power to Be, One Per Cent for the Planet, Non-GMO project and Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. That’s where she and her surgeon husband both trained, which leads to the third pillar – opportunity.
With Laslo-Baker, who has completed years of in-depth studies on the effect of chemicals on fetal development and her husband Dr. Stephen Baker, as heads of the company there’s an opportunity to share peer-reviewed scientific research into the health benefits of the products they use. “I can use this as a stage to give voice to science,” she says. Educate on organics, and what GMO is. “I want to give that voice, show the research.” Informative shows like Dr. Oz are a top of her list.
While they contract a plant (out East) that can produce 80 to 100,000 pops a day, the small, original Oak Bay plant can still produce 5,000 a day. It’s also where the magic continues with research and development. There the mint gets more minty and coconut more creamy. With five flavours of TeaPops on the shelves, more treats are to come.
“We’re always improving the taste, when you go from tiny to big, something changes,” she says. These days famed Victoria dessert chef, D’Arcy Ladret is tweaking and improving recipes. Laslo-Baker is pleased with the rapid growth of the business that still yields quality product.
“I made them good enough that I could feel good about David eating them,” she says. “They didn’t taste good initially. We’d have big parties, invite tons of kids over and watch which ones they’d chuck.”
Find out more about TeaPops online at deebeesorganics.com.