Want It Wednesday: Toronto Tea Festival 2017

The Toronto Tea Festival took place on January 28th and 29th, I am very late to the game talking about it. I went on vacation the very next day and have been swamped since getting back. There was lots that I wanted to get at this years show, here are a few:

1(F&B Tea Co.)
Tea face scrubs. Treat yo self.

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(Tea Life)
Tea-ShirtsIt’s a black tea day today.

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(Tea Life)
I had too hard a time choosing between Tea-Shirts and Tea-Mugs so they both made the list.

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(Lemon Lily and Au Naturel)
Matcha deodorant! 

9(Boreal Wildcraft)
I have featured this mug on a Want It Wednesday before. But I really want one.

Want It Wednesday: July

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(Urban Outfitters)
Kit-TEA Mug. I wish they had an orange one to match Oliver.

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(Typography Printables)
How to drink tea. This happens everyday. Every single day.

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(The Little Things)
These are just the cutest lil’ teapot and teacup earrings!

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(Think Geek)
Star Wars droid canister set to store your favorite teas

 7(Treeshius)
Koala Tea Puns! 

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(Modcloth)
Beautiful birds tea towel 

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(Craftedvan)
This cute little friend will save your page in whatever book you are reading

Tea Sangria

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Last week my friend and fellow tea nerd Emily came by to teach me how to make tea sangria. In May I ran a tea blending workshop at the Cambria Gallery in Toronto, and it was at this event I got to try tea sangria for the first time. Emily made this delicious and refreshing cocktail for the event and everyone loved it, and so I asked her to share the recipe with me and all of you.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the balcony drinking our sangria and eating delicious doughnuts from Uncle Betty’s. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

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What you need:
50 grams (approximately 4 tbsp) We used Mango Fruit Punch from DAVIDsTEA, but you can use any fruity tea you like.
4-5 cups boiling water
1/4 cup honey (or any sweetener you prefer)
2-3 cups assorted frozen or fresh fruit (we used a frozen blend with strawberrys, pineapple, honeydew and mango.)
5-6oz Triple sec
Bottle of white wine (or red if you prefer)

  1. Add tea and water and honey to pitcher and let steep 5-7min
  2. While the tea is steeping place fruit in a bowl with Triple sec and place aside.
  3. Once the tea is done steeping remove the tea leaves. Add the fruit, Triple sec mix and wine to the pitcher.
  4. Top off with ice if you are serving right away, or place in the fridge to cool and serve later.
  5.  *Optional: Add a couple pieces of fruit to the bottom of each cup before pouring to ensure everyone gets some yummy fruit in their drink.

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teALCHEMY Pop Up Shop

1If you are in Toronto between now and June 17th make sure you check out the teALCHEMY pop up shop. teALCHEMY carries a curated menu of teas that represent a variety of flavors and tea growing regions, as well as a culinary line of tea powders for baking and cooking. They are primarily an online retailer and this pop up shop is a great opportunity to experience their product in person before purchasing.  

I stopped into the shop a few days ago and was greeted by the friendly staff with samples of Cherry Rose Rooibos tea, which they were also offering as iced teas to go. I was immediately impressed with how fantastic the product looked in the space. The store, which used to be a Nine West shoe store underwent minimal changes for the pop up but looked as though the space was designed just for them.

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I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the space by owner Lynda Budd, who started the company in 2012 as a result of her love of tea and travel. Lynda showed me all the products that they offer but also shared some more personal stories, like that of her grandmother’s 100 year old tea pot and spoon collection featured in the shop window.

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If you do stop by the shop be prepared to walk out with some new tea for your collection. I bought some goodies including: Dung Ti Oolong and Double Black Diamond. I was also generously given some Iron Goddess Oolong and a glass travel mug in exchange for an impromptu photo shoot of my tea pot and teacup tattoos.

teALCHEMY’s shop is located in Toronto’s Yorkville at 93 Bloor Street W., open Monday – Friday (10AM-8PM) and Saturday-Sunday (11AM-6PM).

Unboxing My First T By Daniel Order

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Recently T by Daniel had a sale on their website for 50% off loose leaf tea. They are located in Brampton, Ontario and I had never tried them before, but have heard great things; so I decided to give it a try. My haul arrived in the mail a couple of days ago, Ollie and I could not wait to get the box open.

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When I ordered, I received a very nice email from co-owner Renata (T by Daniel was started by husband and wife team Daniel and Renata Lewis), letting me know that due to the sale there was a large influx in online orders and that shipment may not be as quick as it usually is. This was understandable and I was happy to wait. Only 3 days later I got another email letting me know my order had shipped, and it was at my door the next day. I was very impressed with how quickly I received my tea.

 
When I opened the box the first thing I found was a handwritten note from the T by Daniel team thanking me for my order, such a nice touch! Sitting under that were some free samples of “Cherry Me Up!” “Chocolate Candy Cane” both Rooibos teas and “Chocolate Marteani” a black tea. Also in the box was a card with “5 reasons you should drink more tea” on one side and a coupon code for 10% off my next order on the other side.

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Another addition to the order was a to-go cup that you would receive when buying a drink in the store, with my new nickname “RoboCop Rachel” written at the bottom. All of these additions and details really showed off T by Daniels amazing customer service and fun personality.

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I generally do not drink a lot of flavoured teas, I try them now and then but usually find I am not blown away and prefer to drink straight teas. When browsing the T by Daniel website I quickly noticed that all except one black tea were flavoured teas, but some flavours sounded too good to be true, so I stayed open minded.

What I ordered:
“The Brits” This was the only tea available that was not flavoured. It is a mix of Assam black tea and Chinese black tea. This sounded like it would be right up my alley. This is a smooth tea, easy to drink, and would be great for adding milk to.

“Mr. Fuzzy Peach” Fuzzy peaches are my favorite candy so I had to give this one a try. A rooibos based tea with blackberry leaves, calendula petals and natural peach flavour. This is the first one of the bunch that I tried, I made a pitcher of iced tea as I prefer fruity teas when they are cold. Very tasty with a strong peach flavor, I made my tea without sugar as rooibos has a natural sweetness on its own and I do not like my tea sweet. If I had used sugar this would have definitely tasted more like the candy and would be a great treat for kids or candy loving adults.

“Strawberry Champagne” Oolong tea with safflower petals, strawberry and papaya pieces, and natural flavours. I love oolong tea and this one sounded like it would be a refreshing iced tea, can’t wait to try it.

“Ginger Fruit Loops” People have told me that this tea tastes exactly like froot loops, I had to try it out for myself. This is an herbal tea with lemongrass, ginger, and orange. I have not had a chance to try this one yet, but it does smell an awful lot like froot loops.

I was impressed both with the flavors of tea and with the appreciation that they show to their customers, I would definitely order from T by Daniel again when I am in the mood for some great flavored teas.

Tea Blending Workshop at Cambria Gallery

I, of course, enjoy any occasion where I get to talk tea, and last week I lead a tea blending workshop at Cambria’s Toronto gallery; I had an amazing time. I want to thank the wonderful people at Cambria who invited me and worked so hard to put the event together.

Cambria is a producer of natural quartz surfaces and their beautiful gallery was the ideal backdrop for an elegant evening of: eating scones and tea sandwiches, sipping tea sangria, and blending custom teas. Cambria often holds events in their gallery for those in the design community that work with them, and in honor of Mother’s day they asked each designer to invite a guest.

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5After I presented a short rundown of the different types of tea and what each brings to the table (or cup in this case) everyone had a chance to make a couple custom tea blends. Each guest got to pick between three choices for the base of their tea: green tea, black tea or rooibos. Then everyone got to add ingredients such as currents, ginger, cinnamon or lavender to create their perfect tea. It was so interesting and exciting to see what kinds of flavors were being blended and how much fun everyone was having. I had such a great time that I think I may have to start doing this type of thing on a regular basis.

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Tea Whipped Cream and Berries

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Simple, delicious and so easy to make, whipped cream with fresh berries may be the perfect dessert. I added black tea powder to my whipped cream to give it a deep and bold flavor that was complemented by the sweet berries hiding underneath.
I recently picked up some black tea powder from teALCHEMY and have been experimenting with fun ways to introduce it into recipes, and I found a winner. Though black tea is my preference it could easily be swapped out in this recipe for matcha green tea powder or for a caffeine free option, rooibos powder.

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What you need:
1 cup whipping cream (this will make about 2 cups of whipped cream)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp confectioners sugar
1-2 tsp black tea powder (depending on how strong you want the black tea flavor)
Any kind of berries you like

1. Place a metal bowl and whisk into the freezer for 10-15 min. I used my stand mixer but if you do not have one any metal bowl and whisk will do.

2. Add cream, vanilla, sugar and tea powder to the bowl and mix until medium peaks form

3. Serve immediately over berries.

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Want it Wednesday: April

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(Cat Coven)

Death or Tea-Shirt

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(Fancy.com)

Keep your table safe with these super cute cork emoji coasters

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(Lea Matte)

This pillow will make sure people know how much you love tea, even before you offer them a cup.

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(Think Geek)

Space capsule tea infuser will make your tea taste out of this world. 

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(Kim Vervuurt)

Zen green tea.

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(Mod Cloth)

Beautiful wilderness inspired tea towels

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(Zakka Mart)

This cat cup is the cutest possible way to sip your tea.

Afternoon Tea: T-Buds

Last week i took my friend Jesse Wanagas for her first ever afternoon tea. We went to T-Buds, a tea lounge located in midtown Toronto. T-Buds describes themselves as “A space for discovering taste and rejuvenating your senses. We want to make tea an intimate experience and infuse you with a sense of well-being and peace.”

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T-Buds has a different feel then you would expect when going for afternoon tea. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, with red and black club chairs and simple plain white place settings. Although the large chairs take up a lot of room and look a bit out of place they do make you feel cozy while you sip your tea and chat with your friends.

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As an alternative to their traditional afternoon tea, they also offer a chocolate afternoon tea featuring a selection of chocolaty treats and chocolate blended teas. Also offered is a full menu of crepes, sandwiches, mains and even brunch. I had been to T-Buds once before and enjoyed the chocolate afternoon tea, but in honour of Jesse’s first time we both decided to go with the classic.

The afternoon tea costs $29, this is very reasonably priced in comparison to other places in the city. We first received a mini quiche and caprese salad; though I am not usually a fan of quiche, it was delicious and it ended up being one of my favourite parts of the meal. Next came a selection of tea sandwiches; I am a vegetarian, and so, I asked for no meat or fish, the sandwiches I received included: cucumber and watercress with creamed cheese, marinated beetroot and crunchy carrot, and my favorite cheddar cheese with sun dried tomatoes. All of the sandwiches were tasty and fresh.

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Two scones were included, a regular scone and a blueberry scone. The scones were warm, flaky and delicious, but I did miss the traditional clotted cream that scones often come with, instead they came with creme mascarpone. Also included was fresh fruit, macarons, a lemon meringue tart and a chocolate brownie.  

The large selection of tea surprised me considering they are not a large restaurant. They have options for everyone with many straight or flavored teas to choose from. I decided on the “Oolong Honey Orchid Buds” and enjoyed it a lot. The tea was smooth and slightly floral with sweet honey like notes.

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I have already been back to T-Buds once since, having afternoon tea, and will definitely go back again. The staff is friendly and accommodating. I was very happy with the variety of vegetarian options that were available, I have found that this can be a bit of an issue when going for afternoon tea at some restaurants. This is a great place to sip tea and chat with friends.

Why I Love Tea: Jesse Wanagas

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Last week my friend Jesse Wanagas invited me over for tea and a conversation. Jesse and I met in high school 13 years ago. Her ability to be intelligent but a goofball, sensitive but strong and a fan of all things nerdy immediately drew me in. We very quickly became close friends, spending most of the day at school together and almost every weekend at each others houses.

Jesse now works at Bell Media as a Communications Coordinator for The Comedy Network, Space and Bravo. We grew up, got jobs and no longer get to spend as much time together, but the time we do is guaranteed to be full of fun, laughs and very opinionated discussion on the newest movie or TV show we are obsessed with watching.
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Rachel: Why do you love tea?

Jesse: I don’t drink coffee and I don’t like coffee, and tea is the natural alternative to that. It is a lot lighter and not as aggressive as coffee.

Rachel: When did you start drinking tea?

Jesse: I’m not sure, I have always drank tea, I probably got more into it because of you. You’re the first person who gave me a collection of tea and a pink teapot, I know how hard that was for you (for those who don’t know, I have a hatred of the color pink. Jesse loves pink but somehow we make our friendship work) then you started working at David’s Tea so I got all of the tea.

Rachel: What is your favorite tea?

Jesse: I have three go to teas; rooibos, peppermint and Blueberry Jam (black tea with blueberries from David’s Tea). Those are the three that I typically alternate between. When I started drinking tea I wanted to drink cool interesting teas like cookie dough, or red velvet cake, ones that were very flavorful. But as I got to know more teas my favourite ones ended up being much simpler flavors.

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Rachel: What tea are you making for me?

Jesse: I am making a plain rooibos tea. I first bought it when you worked at David’s Tea because you told me it was very hydrating. I was with a friend who was buying a gift for someone and wanted something that would be good for hangovers, and I ended up buying some too. It turned out that I unknowingly already had a lot of rooibos tea that had lots of other flavors in them, but I like the straight rooibos. I find it light, it is a nice flavour but not overwhelming, it has a natural sweetness to it and is easy to drink plain or with a little bit of honey in it. And I am serving it in my Dr. Who mugs. My favorite is the Dalek mug, I get to say I’m going to exterminate whatever is in it.

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It goes without saying that my visit with Jesse was wonderful. I do not usually drink rooibos or any caffeine free tea. It was great to find an appreciation for something I rarely steep for myself.