In The News

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy success story: Tea Horse

“I’ve accessed several federally funded programs for women entrepreneurs—programs that allowed me to incorporate, to scale up the capacity to roast my wild rice, and to get intellectual property protection. The advice I would give women entrepreneurs is to reach out to these women’s business organizations. They’re there to help you. They have the resources, they have the answers; if they don’t have the answers, they’ll connect you with those who do.”

Manoomin Maple

Re-introducing Manoomin Maple, a give-back tea that supports Indigenous communities through the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Hand-in-hand with Tea Horse, a woman-led, Indigenous-owned tea company, we bring you Manoomin Maple, a unique black tea blend featuring manoomin (meaning wild rice in Ojibwe) that’s harvested in the lakes of Northern Canada.

Tea Horse was founded in 2017 by Denise Atkinson, who is Anishinaabe ikwe (meaning Ojibwe woman), and her partner, Marc Bohémier. Located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Peoples in Northwestern Ontario, Tea Horse focuses on bringing people together through high-quality teas featuring roasted manoomin.

“throughout our collaboration with davidstea, all of our interactions with the dt team have been based on a reciprocal sharing of knowledge and ideas. from flavour direction and tastings to naming and marketing, it has been an authentic partnership.”

steeping together podcast  season 2 | ep. 5
wild rice: an indigenous tradition

Today we’re sitting down with Tea Horse, a woman-led, Indigenous-owned tea company, to help us get a better understanding of wild rice. Tea Horse was founded by Denise Atkinson, who is Anishinaabe ikwe (meaning Ojibwe woman) and her partner Marc Bohémier. Located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Peoples in Northwestern Ontario, Tea Horse focuses on bringing people together through high-quality teas featuring roasted manoomin (wild rice in Ojibwe). So, who better to teach us about this truly unique ancestral grain?

For our first ever collaboration with another tea company, Tea Horse and DAVIDsTEA came together to create Manoomin Maple. We’re proud to say that proceeds from this new blend directly support the David Suzuki Institute’s Reconciling Ways of Knowing program.

Tea Horse: Reviving Indigenous Culture Through Artisanal Tea

Tea Horse is an Indigenous-owned artisanal tea company located in Northwestern Ontario that offers a unique selection of custom-roasted wild rice and tea blends. Founded in 2017 by Denise Atkinson, an Ojibwe woman, and her partner Marc H. Bohémier, Tea Horse is more than just a tea company; it is a way to revive and celebrate Indigenous culture.

Tea Horse has revolutionized the market with its unique roasting technique and innovative mixes that use real, native ingredients. ManoominChaTM, ManoominChaTM Dark, and ManoominaaboTM Tisane are Tea Horse’s three trademark blends, each with its own distinct flavour profile and perfect for any tea connoisseur. But Tea Horse is more than just a high-quality beverage. It’s a chance to learn about indigenous peoples, aid local economies, and spread awareness about organic agricultural methods.

Tea Horse Brews Success With New Focus on Business-to-Business Model  

Tea Horse is an indigenous woman-owned tea company located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg Peoples in Northwestern Ontario. Denise Atkinson runs the company alongside her partner, Marc H. Bohémier. Their innovative tea blends are the only ones in the world that feature wild rice, a nutritious grain that is native to North America.

In her entrepreneurial journey thus far, Atkinson had faced challenges accessing grant money.  “I am a member of a First Nation, but I don’t live on the First Nation. […] So I can’t access most of the big opportunities as an individual entrepreneur who is not being funded by a particular First Nation,” says Atkinson. When she heard about the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Entrepreneurs (RAISE) program she jumped at the opportunity. RAISE is a provincially-funded, comprehensive grant initiative that supports Indigenous, Black, and other racialized entrepreneurs in Ontario who are on the road to starting or scaling their businesses. In addition to grant funding, the program provides entrepreneurs with access to business development training, business coaching, and culturally responsive support services through the Parkdale Centre for Innovation’s Early Stage Entrepreneur program.


Tea Horse was founded by Denise Atkinson and Marc H. Bohémier and is a Certified Aboriginal Business with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. Our focus is on health and wellness and the restorative properties contained in tea, herbal infusions and wild craft foods like wild rice, North America’s original “superfood”. Since our inception, we have been engaging with Indigenous Elders and harvesters of traditional plants for guidance on how to proceed with creating non-timber forest resource initiatives that will support and empower Indigenous Peoples and communities. At present, we source our tea and herbal infusions from Canadian tea experts who travel to the tea growing regions of the world and buy directly from the farmer or small producer. In October 2019, we attended the World Indigenous Business Forum in Vancouver, BC, where we formed partnerships that will allow us to transition to direct-sourcing from Indigenous Tea Peoples in Taiwan, Japan, Nepal, Australia and New Zealand. Our authentic, traditionally harvested wild rice is direct sourced from Indigenous harvesters from the pristine lakes of Northwestern Ontario and processed using minimal technology to ensure quality, nutrition, and flavour. Purchasing non-cultivated, natural wild rice supports Indigenous harvesters, preserves Indigenous food sovereignty and the eco-system in which it grows.

Tea Horse gets boost

THUNDER BAY — What happens when you combine tea and wild rice? You get a tea blend with deep Indigenous roots and a collaboration opportunity with DavidsTea. Add a little maple syrup and you have the northern-Canadian Manoomin Maple tea brewed in the heart of Thunder Bay and marketed nationally through DavidsTea.

Denise Atkinson and Marc Bohemier, co-founders of Tea Horse, a woman-led, Indigenous-owned artisanal tea and wild rice company, developed a proprietary way to roast wild rice and began to blend it with their teas. “There’s a Japanese tea called Genmaicha, where they roast regular rice with Japanese green tea,” Bohemier said. “That was our inspiration.” The pair attended tea festivals and used social media to share their manoomin-based teas and DavidsTea took notice. Manoomin means wild rice in Ojibwa.

davidstea x tea horse
a local give-back to indigenous communities

For the very first time, we collaborated with another tea company to develop a tea blend and we could NOT be more excited to announce it to the world! Tea world, are you listening? We’ve got some major game-changing news for you…

In partnership with Tea Horse, a woman-led, Indigenous-owned company, we bring you Manoomin Maple tea! This unique and cozy black tea blend features roasted manoomin (meaning wild rice in Ojibwe) and a touch of maple, vanilla, and berries. It not only tastes good (trust us!!!), but it does good too.

We’re THRILLED to announce that 10% of all proceeds from Manoomin Maple will give back to the David Suzuki Institute to support Indigenous communities.

Meet the couple blending wild rice and tea together in Thunder Bay

The Thunder Bay couple are the owners of Tea Horse, a Thunder Bay-based company that started out as a typical tea retailer, but soon became dedicated to the production of their own proprietary wild rice and tea blend.

Atkinson describes the blend as a Canadian version of genmaicha, a traditional Japanese blend of green tea and brown rice.

For this week’s edition of Northern Nosh, I spoke to Atkinson and Bohemier to learn more about how this unique product came to be. Tap on the player to hear our conversation.

Tea takes off online

THUNDER BAY — Denise Atkinson hasn’t literally travelled the whole world, it just feels that way sometimes.

The marketing power of the internet has allowed the Thunder Bay entrepreneur to extend the reach of her burgeoning artisanal tea business well beyond Northwestern Ontario and the confines of a storefront.

Ironically, when Atkinson started Tea Horse about five years ago, it was inside a traditional store in Thunder Bay’s trendy Bay Street neighbourhood.

But operating a “bricks and mortar” outlet proved to be time consuming and expensive to boot.

Walleye – Tea Horse
Story by Deanne Gagnon

When Marc Bohemier and Denise Atkinson attended the Toronto Tea Festival last summer, they did not anticipate that it would be a “transformative experience,” as Bohemier describes it. “We were planning on checking it out for an hour,” says Atkinson. “Then we ended up staying for two days. Everybody was so down-to-earth, really active, and enthusiastic and passionate about it.” By the end of the festival, they knew they had to bring this kind of tea to Thunder Bay.

The name Tea Horse originates from the ancient Tea Horse Road, a trading road developed in 640 AD from China to Tibet through the Himalayas. The logo, designed by local artist Lora Northway, encompasses the concept of East meets West.