by Ann Thurlow
You get the feeling that, in about five years, Brìgh Music and Tea is going to be legendary. It’s already pretty marvelous—a small shop full of instruments, books, CDs, anything related to Celtic music. The handmade guitars and the thumb pianos are interesting. But we’re headed for the back, where shop owner Mary MacGillivray is going to make us a cup of tea.
“I really think music and tea go together, don’t you?” she says. MacGillivray grew up in a musical family and she says two things were always on the go at their place: the music and the tea pot. So it seemed natural that, when she and partner Cian O Morain decided to open a music shop, there would be tea as well.
But not just any tea. In her former life MacGillivray was a nutritionist. She’s sold on the benefits of, not only tea, but tea from healthy sources. When she was putting together the collection of teas for her shop, she actually consulted a tea sommelier, who is also her friend. Her eyes light up when she says that; you can tell she wants to do that, too.
The teas at Brìgh are a combination of what we know as tea (camellia sinensis, if you want to be precise) and tisanes, which are made from herbs and fruits. In what she calls phase two of her shop, she wants to source more of her tisanes locally. But for now, she puts down a compostable cup and a compostable lid and begins offering her wares. Here is a Scottish pu erh or fermented tea with caramel or a cream Earl Gray (which tastes like velvet). Since I have a cold, she suggests an organic peppermint, which is bright and soothing at the same time. Or if you absolutely have your heart set on Irish tea, she can pull out an Irish Breakfast Tea or a special stash of an Irish Tea called Barry’s. Kids love orange hibiscus ice tea, she says.
It’s not a tea shop per se. You can buy packages of tea so you can make your own at home. You can get a cup of tea to go or you can try to find a seat in the store and chat to Mary. She can talk to you all day about tea or about Celtic culture. If you are completely lucky, she’ll sing you a song.
Brìgh Music and Tea, 93 Water Street, Charlottetown.