Leanne ‘Lonnie’ Toy’s micro artisan food business grew organically from her love of yoga and chai tea. She’d practised yoga for many years before becoming an instructor. She adapted her sister’s chai tea recipe to suit her own taste and began hosting an ‘Afternoon Tea by the Sea’ event at Kelly’s Beach in Bargara as part of Bundaberg’s annual Taste Festival. 

But it was a transformative sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal in India with her teenage daughter in 2015 that prompted her to start making chai tea for others. “I loved seeing the chaiwallahs (tea-sellers) on the streets. Milk urns being delivered by bike, where the food source is close and fresh just like it is in Bundaberg,” Lonnie said. 

There was a groundswell of love for her handmade teas and cakes. Unexpectedly, requests started flowing in and Lonnie’s Chai Kitchen was born. For many years she juggled her yoga teaching with her love of cooking, but desire for her handmade treats took over.  “Demand for comforting homecooked cakes increased during COVID19 and local cafes started asking me to stock their cake cabinets,” Lonnie said. “My Daintree and Caffeine-free Rooibos Organic chai teas are made to order, where I grind a blend of eight different whole spices.”   

Proudly showcasing locally grown fruits, vegetables and nuts in all her baked products, Lonnie is now offering Sweet Treat Boxes for workplaces and social gatherings, as well as special occasion cakes; such as gin and tonic cake, lemon meringue layer cake, rocky road mud cake, rum and raisin chocolate cake, and whole orange almond syrup cake. She offers a range of vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free cakes too.


Legend has it that masala chai tea was created in India about 5000 years ago when a king ordered a healing spiced beverage. The king prescribed to Ayurveda, a native medicine system which uses yoga, massage, acupuncture, and herbal remedies. He believed the heat from ginger and black pepper stimulated digestion. The antiseptic properties in cloves were thought to help relieve pain. Cardamom was used as a mood elevator. Cinnamon supported circulation and respiratory function, and star anise freshened the breath.

Tea time

High tea, low tea, afternoon tea, tea party. No, according to the connoisseurs, they aren’t all the same thing. It depends on who is partaking in it. The time of day. The height of the tables and chairs. And what food is being served. Is it accompanied by champagne? 

Originating in England in the 1800s, there are very strict rules and etiquette to be applied. But with so much conflicting information online, how can we possibly keep with tradition? 

We Australians are a relaxed lot. What we refer to in Australia as ‘high tea’ is actually more closely associated with afternoon tea. Sweet and savoury finger food on fine china, sipping tea and bubbles mid-afternoon to tide us over until dinner. The fact of the matter is, regardless of how you enjoy it – there’s always time for tea! 

Steeped in history

Tea originated in China 5000 years ago when leaves fell from a tree, into an Emperor’s boiling water to create a refreshing drink. The cultivation
and preparation of tea spread throughout China to be enjoyed by every societal class. 

Favoured by Buddhists and Hindus, tea spread to Japan and India where it became a part of everyday life. In its heyday, the East India Company was arguably one of the most powerful commercial organisations the world has ever seen, holding the monopoly on British tea trade.

Today, tea is so strongly associated with English culture, royal court and aristocracy, few would suspect it was a Portuguese princess that made it fashionable in Britain.

It was the duties charged on tea, opposed by the Boston Tea Party, that led to the American War of Independence in 1773, and the USA breaking away from Britain. It was the Americans that invented the tea bag! 

In the 18th century the popularity of tea led to widespread illegal smuggling. And yet, this same calming, warm beverage played a part in boosting morale during both World Wars. 

In Australia, tea arrived with the First Fleet in 1788 and became an important, imported staple, enjoyed by everyone from convicts to officers, and servants to high society. Today it remains steeped in Australian folklore; thanks to the jolly swagman who sat ‘under the shade of a coolabah tree … and he sang as he watched and waited ‘til his billy boiled’.

Who will come a Waltzing Matilda with me? 

Enjoy Lonnie’s Chai Kitchen cakes at Leaf n Bean, Nanas Pantry and Beach Mill Bargara. Lonnie’s products are on the shelves at Cha Cha Chocolate, Nanas Pantry, One Little Farm, Lettuce Patch Hummock, Windmill Bargara. Order a Lonnie’s Chai tea at Indulge Cafe, Windmill Bargara, or Myrtille Bistro in Crow’s Nest.


Inquiries for Lonnie’s Chai Kitchen can be made by texting 0434 619 872