How a 26-year-old diehard tea fan landed a spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things

At 14 years old, Taylor Lindsay-Noel had an intense 10-year plan.

She was a gymnast and was going to get a scholarship to UCLA, study science and maybe work in sports medicine after retiring from the sport. At the time, she was already on track to represent Canada at the 2012 Olympics — she just had to follow the mold of every other gymnast before her.

But in August 2008, Lindsay-Noel broke her neck after attempting a dangerous maneuver and found herself immobilized from the neck down. Everything she and her mother had planned for the next few years went away in an instant.

Now, 12 years later, Lindsay-Noel has pivoted her life entirely and, as she says, for the better.

“Before my accident, I was very by the books,” she told In The Know. “But you have to be open to change.”

That openness landed Lindsay-Noel on a coveted spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list.

In the years following her accident, Lindsay-Noel started a podcast called “Tea Time with Tay,” where she has interviewed influencers and people she has found inspiring over a cup of tea. The inspiration came from her mother, who is Jamaican.

“In the Caribbean culture, drinking tea is very popular and something that we do in our everyday life,” she explained. “My house is also the kind of house where you have to sit down and you stay for hours and we offer our guests tea … So, when starting a podcast and thinking about sparking great conversations, tea was just the obvious choice.”

As her podcast grew in popularity, Lindsay-Noel brainstormed ways to make a profit, which she knew, from other podcasts, came from sponsorships.

“I would heavily advertise David’s Tea every single podcast, hoping one day they would sponsor me,” she said. “But as my audience grew, they never reached out, so I got a little bit stubborn and decided to market my own tea.”

That tea turned into a whole new business for Lindsay-Noel, called Cup of Té, a high-end luxury organic tea that she launched in 2018 (“Té” is pronounced “tay” instead of “tea”).

“[The name] is something I played around with for a while,” she said. “Té — T-E — translates to [tea] in both [French and Spanish]. Plus, it’s a play off of my name Taylor.”

Lindsay-Noel said that even though she is much more open to change than she was at 14, she had long had a plan in the back of her mind to figure out how to get on Oprah’s Favorite Things list.

Instead, Oprah found her on Instagram.

“It was definitely shocking, I’ve always been a big fan of Oprah,” she said. “I thought maybe in five years, I’ll figure out how people get on the list, but they reached out to me. I feel really lucky.”

(For the record, Oprah’s favorite tea is the Cha Cha Chai.)

Since being added on the list, Lindsay-Noel said the business exposure has been beyond what she even imagined for the brand. She’s incredibly proud of running a Black-owned company and donates proceeds from some of the Starter Kits to mental health awareness causes.

Even with the continual success of her business, Lindsay-Noel doesn’t doubt that her ritual of sitting down at the kitchen island with her mom and talking over a cup of tea will ever change or go away.

“I don’t think that’s ever going anywhere,” she laughed over the phone. “I’m actually here right now with one of my best friends, Christina, and she knows — right, Christina? She knows when you’re coming over here, you’re coming over for a long time.”

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