Toronto

A royal honour: Brampton couple to serve tea to Prince Charles and Camilla

The royal couple will be stopping in for a spot of tea at T by Daniel in Brampton, Ont.

'It's a fairytale,' said tea shop co-owner Daniel Lewis

Renata and Daniel Lewis, 29, met when they were just eight years old. (Jon Castell/CBC)

The moment you step inside T by Daniel, a cozy cafe at the corner of Queen and Main streets in downtown Brampton, Ont., you feel like royalty.

Behind the counter, husband and wife duo Daniel and Renata Lewis welcome all first-time visitors with a curtsy and twirl.

And their trademark greeting will face what may be its ultimate test Friday — when the pair serves tea to the Prince of Wales.

"Who greater could you possibly serve?" asks Renata.

It's something the couple has long dreamed about, but never believed would happen.

'We can inspire people, we can achieve things greater than we can imagine if we just take the time to care about people,' said Daniel. (Jon Castell/CBC)

"This is destiny," Daniel chimes in, laughing.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are in the midst of a three-day royal tour as part of Canada 150 festivities. They're visiting Nunavut, Prince Edward County, Ont., and Ottawa for Canada Day.

But it's a stop in Trenton, Ont., where the Lewises will present the prince with a special blend of tea crafted specially for him.

"We decided everything, even the aesthetic, how it looks, the aroma is really meaningful for the celebration of Canada and the visit from His Royal Highness," said Daniel.

A twist of fate

So how exactly did a little tea shop in Brampton get selected for a royal visit?

Daniel traces it back to 2009 when he was working at Domino's Pizza and making music, rather than tea.

He had been writing and performing as a hip-hop artist when he was almost killed. Some of the lyrics made him a target, he said, adding that he was stabbed four times. 

"It was life-changing for me," he said. "It helped me redirect my life, my goals, and I decided to start something."

That something became T by Daniel.

The couple opened up T By Daniel in 2013. (Jon Castell/CBC)

"The value, the service is all built around that incident and what we learned," Daniel said. "There are communities who touch the justice system like I did. Probably didn't finish high school like I didn't, and feel like there's no hope and there's nowhere to go.

"But there is hope."

Lewis eventually teamed up with the Prince's Charities Canada, an organization that encourages entrepreneurship, education, and mentoring young people and veterans.

So when Prince Charles's visit was announced, someone within the charity remembered Daniel's story and recommended him.

"It's a fairytale," Daniel said. 

A royal blend

The couple is working around the clock to get ready.

They'll be serving their famous Lion Chai, a customer favourite that's a concoction of spices and dairy-free coconut cream.

They're also crafting a special blend for Prince Charles to take home.

Alongside managing the tea shop, Renata and Daniel are also new parents. (Jon Castell/CBC)

And while they've served other big names, the pair admits this is a whole new level.

"This is proof that when you start something with a mission to inspire others, and the tea shop is a way for me to do that, great things can happen," said Daniel. "It's a dream and now its coming true."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shannon Martin

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Shannon is an award-winning reporter with CBC Toronto. She was part of the core team that launched "No Fixed Address", a hugely popular series on millenials renting and buying in Toronto. In 2016, Shannon hosted a special live broadcast on-air and on Facebook simultaneously from Toronto Pride, which won top honours in the Digital category at the RTDNA awards. Contact Shannon: shannon.martin@cbc.ca or find her on Instagram at @ShannonMartinTV.

now