Quiet Moments of Community – Downtown and at Your Kitchen Table


One of the ways we are marking House of Friendship’s 75th year of service is with a special tea blend produced by local business, XTEA Co. House of Friendship is a leading provider of addiction treatment services. As such, we do not serve alcohol at any of our events. We do however, serve tea! What better way to toast our 75th year of service than with a special cup of ‘tea with Joe Cramer’? Read on, while you enjoy a nice warm cup of tea.

Zenia Horton of Xtea with House of Friendship Tea

The simple things bring back memories

I find that tea tends to slow people down. The preparation, the smell, the ritual… you are more present it seems when making and serving tea. Everyone seems to have a tea memory. When I started attending tea seminars I noticed that everyone has a favourite tea memory. The smell reminds them of something: maybe tea with their grandmother, or a tea cup close to their heart.

My name is Zenia Horton, and I own and operate a kitchen design business by the name of Zen Design. I am also the founder of a loose leaf tea company by the name of XTEA CO.

My passion for design and creating spaces for people to interact and communicate in led me to start a loose leaf tea company. Community is always an important part of what I do.


House of Friendship Joe Cramer Xtea BlendTo me, community means that we all belong, no exclusions or exceptions. I live and work in downtown Kitchener. I moved my businesses downtown Kitchener about 3 years ago and got the privilege of being part of the downtown community. What a blessing it has been. We created a space called THE UNDERGROUND where we DO and practice community or communitea. As a business owner on your own you are a small, independent little store but when you have a business downtown you are part of the BIA (Business Improvement Association) and you network together and becoming stronger together. You also care about the people on the street as they are part of your family and community as well. They get to know you as well and as we look out for them, they also look out for us.

So began my interest in House of Friendship, and their various programs. I quickly learned that House of Friendship is an amazing organization and we are very blessed to have them part of our community. In conversation we developed the idea of a custom blend of tea (available online here) to commemorate 75 years of House of Friendship and the organizations founder, Joe Cramer, a simple man, rich in kindness and compassion.

A big question for Joe Cramer

My love of design inspired me to develop a very unique tea company where we can create custom blends for people and organizations. I sit with people or organizations and discover who they are and then create a tea blend based on what they represent. We work together until we get their blend just right.
The result for House of Friendship? A teetotalers tea blend that represents who they are and what they stand for.

Joe Cramer teaIt is a warming and soothing blend of antioxidants such as green tea, rosehips, hibiscus, rooibos, elderberries and cinnamon. The other thing I like about loose leaf tea is when you put the tea leaves in hot water the tea leaves come alive and the flavour is released. I know this is what HOF does for individuals. As a community they come together and help those in need when they feel like they are in over their heads and continue to give them the tools they need –just like antioxidants in this tea—to help them to continue to succeed and thrive.

If Joe Cramer was alive today and I had the opportunity to have his tea with him, I think I would ask him how do you really listen to someone and figure out what they actually need to succeed and thrive? How do THEY feel that they belong to community? Not what our band aid solutions are, not what makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, not what we think our programs do, but how do you listen to figure out what an individual needs to feel part of community?

To find out more about XTEACO and what we do, pay us a visit. We are located underneath A Second Look Bookstore downtown Kitchener across from THE MUSEUM or on line at www.xteaco.com


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