Rainbow Raspberries

Remember Tealish?

Last week on a rainy Monday I walked into Tealish for the second time to check out some of their fruitier blends. Oh man this place is great, I love again the cozy atmosphere that wraps you up in a blanket.  It is also cool to be a customer in a tea store as most often I am usually behind the counter making tea for people at Davids.  Smelling all the teas does not get old. I love it.

I picked out a delicious coconut oolong to drink and bough two packets of tea as follows;

1. Razmintazz: a herbal tea with peppermint, giant raspberries, chamomile, apple and hibiscus.  The Tealish girl sold it to me by saying it tastes like pop rocks. Yum! Even though I don’t get that pop rocks taste when I drink it, it still satisfies my palate completely.  It’s so refreshingly fruity with a pop! of mint.

2. Rainbow Rooibos: what a great fruity rooibos with pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple and rosebuds.  Not overly fruity as you would expect with so many flavours and that’s what I love about it.

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I need to have a tea party soon so I can share all these great teas with my friends. Look at these dinosaurs just enjoying their tea.  The little guy being the hostess:)

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El Almacen Escapade

So I’ve always wondered, what is the proper way to drink maté tea?  What is so great about this South American tea? You drink it from this little gourd and with a straw…who drinks tea from a straw??? Well now I do.

El Almacen is a cozy, welcoming cafe on Queen West in Toronto.  Definitely passed by it several times while I have been shopping in that area and missed the part of the sign that read “Yerba Maté Cafe”.  When I heard about it from a coworker I just had to make a special tea-venture downtown Toronto and discover what this yerba maté cafe was all about.

Three of us ventured down to El Almacen on a surprisingly warm winters day and it was as if the cafe was waiting for us with open arms.  The woman working at the time recommended we share the serving of maté if we wanted to drink it the traditional way from the gourd so we ordered one maté serving and three delicious little treats on the side called Alfajores. These coconut caramel little treats were delectable!  I would go back to El Almacen just for those pastries.

mateAs she brought our order over I asked the server if she could show us how to properly enjoy the tea.  She was happy to show us the maté ways and explained we would need about 8 teaspoons of tea in the small gourd and suggested adding a few teaspoons of cane sugar to sweeten the taste of the maté.  Traditionally, yerba maté can be sipped through a bombilla – a stainless steel straw capable of filtering the tea without consuming the leaves.  After she filled the gourd with maté, cane sugar and about 74ºC water (as to not burn the leaves), she placed the bombilla in the center of the gourd and reminded us not to move it about or stir the straw as it will become clogged with the tea leaves.

matedrinkerWhat an experience!  We passed the gourd around between the three of us, taking turns drinking through the bombilla and refilling the gourd with water before passing it along.  I loved the bonding experience involved with drinking yerba maté and it seemed to fit right in with the the welcoming relaxed atmosphere of the cafe.  The artwork was beautiful along the walls and on the tables, the staff was very friendly and I felt as if I had been there before even though I seemed to only pass by this enchanting cafe.

Not only did the server show us how to drink the yerba maté, but she explained to us that it is very energizing in a different way that coffee is.  I like that she mentioned we will be more mentally alert after drinking the tea and not crazy infused with a jolt of caffeine.  We were very energized afterwards, ready to take on the streets of Toronto!  And I would definitely come back here with friends and enjoy the traditional ways of the maté world.  The welcoming atmosphere brought people together and left you with a calming energy to last the rest of the day.

tabletealadyThanks El Almacen for the great tea experience!

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Next stop: Tea Factory

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon, we had just finished eating all you can eat sushi and trying on silly coats at the thrift store when my boyfriend and I decided to stop by this new tea shop.  We had spotted in the night before when picking up our fish and chips dinner along the Lakeshore strip in Port Credit.

The Tea Factory is right on Lakeshore close to Cawthra/Hurontario in Port Credit.  Only open for about three months now, this delightful tea spot is just what Port Credit needed.  I was very pleased this time with the customer service, the owner was very knowledgeable and helpful as she happily showed us about a dozen teas and encouraged us to smell as many as we liked.  As someone who adores tea as much as I do it is always appreciated when someone shares that passion and is open to sharing their knowledge about tea.

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The store itself was very cozy, I loved the dark wood surrounding the counters.  The small seating area made it easy to sit and have a small treat with our tea (which was complimentary!:).  And next to where we were sitting was a giant chalkboard with a list of prices and a message about tea tastings!  Of course I inquired about it and the owner informed us that at the end of the month she does tea tastings of the different teas in the store.  I can come in and pay a set price and enjoy trying as many teas as I please!  This is such a wonderful idea especially because the Tea Factory is new to the neighborhood.  People can come in and meet other tea lovers, learn about tea and take pleasure in tasting new flavors!  What a great way to bring people together:)

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I can’t wait to go back for their tea sampling and it is so close to my neighborhood!   I don’t have to go all the way downtown Toronto to explore new teas and shops.  I am also excited to see how the store progresses in the next coming months.  Port Credit is a quaint little area close to the lake which is pretty busy in the summer months when you can walk along the streets, by the lake and enjoy the warmer weather.  Now you can also enjoy a great cup of tea! Go Tea Factory! Check out their Facebook page here.

Purchases and Tastings:

  • Apple Oolong and Go Nuts tastings
  • Saturday Afternoon and Godiva Pu-erh as a 50g bag of tea

Check out my next posts about these new teas!

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Tealish

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Tealish has been around for about 7 years in the quaint Queen West area right by Trinity Bellwoods park in Toronto.  If you are ever downtown near Queen St W and Bathurst there is a quiet little tea store just waiting for you to order a cup of tea.

I’m going to be honest, I was a little disappointed when I walked in to the store, or boutique as they like to call themselves.  I was the first to say hello and strike up a conversation after a while as I was browsing their festive tea accessories near the front of the store.  I had been excited to discover this new tea place and I unexpectedly found they were not as welcoming as I had hoped.  Maybe I’m spoiled in the suburbs with people who like friendly conversation, because the downtown crowd seem to keep to themselves.

I wanted to know MORE about tealish!  I follow their blog and they have great tea recipes and information about their different types of teas.  However, the service I received in store was mediocre.  The clear disinterest when showing me their different teas and talking about the company shortened my stay and left me disappointed.

Minus the poor service, the store was absolutely adorable and I did not leave totally disappointed.  The wooden floors squeaked as I walked around the front of the store browsing their tea accessories.  It was the beginning of my Christmas shopping that day so I decided to get a tea for the road.  And what better way to start your Christmas shopping with a mint chocolate rooibos, black tea and vanilla soy latte!

While one of the girls was making my latte in the back room I joined the other tealish girl in the front to have a look at their different teas.  I wanted so many!

  • Pink Dragonfruit
  • Dreidels and Donuts
  • Carrot Cake
  • Earl Greypfruit.

I ended up purchasing 50g of the Earl Greypfruit, which takes a zesty grapefruit spin on the classic Earl Grey tea.  It is a great morning and afternoon tea with that hint of citrus kick that makes the tea a little bit lighter than the classic Earl Grey.

Final notes:

  • Tasty tea lattes.  Each of the staff created their own and they are having a competition to see whose is the best.
  • Poor customer service.  Bring a friend when you visit because it will be more enjoyable with someone else.
  • Be prepared to purchase a 50g minimum amount of tea if you are looking to bring some loose tea home with you.  I would have bought more tea if I could have purchased a smaller amount to test out.  Although I am already half way through my Earl Greypfruit…
  • ALL NATURAL flavouring in their teas.  No artificial nonsense that confuses people.
  • Toasty Almond is the same tea as David’s Forever Nuts.  The similarity of the teas surprised me, they had one or two other teas that were closely similar to those at Davids.  Who created them first?  I do not want to start that debate.

All in all, if you love loose leaf tea go check tealish out! Bring a friend and definitely try one of their festive lattes!

 

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David

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Alright, so I’m going to tell you a little bit about my favourite tea store….DavidsTea.  Just so you know what I’m talking about most of the time and hopefully this will encourage you to check it out!

DavidsTea was founded in Montreal by none other than David himself and he has definitely opened up a new community for tea.  Loose leaf tea allows you to taste more flavour in your tea and there becomes more opportunity to create unique flavours.  There are so many different flavours and I truly believe there is one for everybody!

Rows upon rows of tins filled with loose leaf tea I was introduced to the many different smells and the friendly staff at this fresh looking new store on Bloor St W.  My friend picked me up an insisted on trying this new place, so of course I went along and it was my first introduction to the world of loose leaf tea! I had a cup of Organic Green Seduction, which is still one of my favourites and enjoyed the possibility of coming back and trying new teas.

Don’t want a hot drink? Get it iced!

Can’t decide on which tea to try? Try the #teaoftheday

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Teaopia…or should I say Teavana

So I’ve been very faithful to DavidsTea when it comes to buying loose leaf tea.  They have always provided me with good service and I love the fresh look and uplifting environment when I walk into the turquoise coloured store.  For those of you who do not know DavidsTea, please please please check out their website as they are a Canadian company and pretty much kick ass when it comes to tea!

Anyway, Mississauga is currently lacking on the DavidsTea front, so where am I going to buy loose leaf tea when I’m working and running around the streets of Mississauga? Teaopia of course has been my store of frequent visitations.  It has not only become my second source of tea purchases because of its convenient locations, but the one I go to has the best customer service I have had in a long while!

I was in there about a week or so ago looking to try a new tea and the girl working there opened my eyes to the world of Yerba Mate and Matcha green teas! Both are incredible teas and I will be writing future blog posts about them once I do a bit more taste testing and research.  The girl who introduced me to these teas was amazing, it is rare that I find another person more passionate about tea than I.  More knowledgeable yes, but more crazy about tea..well I’m hard to beat.

I went in there excited to try a new tea and got caught up talking about teas that give you lots of ENERGY.  I’m always looking for energetic teas because I stopped drinking coffee because of the super sugar high, crash and burning sensation in the stomach afterwards:(  But I’m always SO tired in the mornings and as I’m explaining all this to the Teaopia lady she’s wafting all the smells of the different teas in my direction and then gets into telling me about the Matcha tea.  It actually looks pretty weird (as you can see below), but has all sorts of great health benefits and gives you 10X the energy boost that most teas give you!

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She then went on to make me a sample of the Matcha tea as I had never tried it before.  She whisked it together with hot water and two shots of chocolate and vanilla flavouring.  MMMMM it was delicious! And mind you, it gave me a bolt of energy!  Well I shouldn’t say a bolt because I never got that crash that coffee gives you, it was more of a long lasting energy that went into the night and had me wanting to clean the whole house when I got home.

I’m going to do a bit more research on the Matcha and Yerba Mate teas, as I’m sure there are more of you who want that energy boost without the coffee business.  Today I just wanted to share my exceptional customer service experience and encourage those that are afraid of change to try something new!  Change can be good and trying new stores and teas is exciting!

 

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