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Delish Tealish in Toronto

Issue 01
Written By: Samantha Waxman, Toronto

The first thing you notice when you walk into Tealish, a tea store located in Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood, is its wall of pantone-esque coloured tea cans sporting bold prints.  The shop is bright, clean, and inviting, and has a strong aroma of dried fruit and bubble gum.  For someone who has trouble making decisions, I could probably spend days smelling and tasting all the different tea offerings in the store. If you’re not in the mood to sniff and sample tea, there is also an eclectic selection of pre-packaged teas and quirky tea accessories such as mugs with mustaches on them that read “Mr. and Mrs. Tea.”

During my visit to Tealish, I decided to try a coconut tea that was recommended by one of the staff members- as I love all things coconut. The tea, called Coconut Bongo, was described as a “lightly oxidized oolong tea infused with the aroma of orchids and fresh baked goods” which somehow translated into a light coconut-milk tasting flavour on my palate. To celebrate the arrival of summer, I opted to have my tea brew on ice.

In addition to my iced tea, I also purchased two types of loose leaf tea. The first was an English breakfast tea, which I used to make iced tea at home (see recipe).

The second tea, called Monk’s Blend, is a black tea with vanilla and caramel flavours blended with pomegranate. I have yet to dip in to this tea but every time I open the bag for a whiff, I am captivated by the aroma that fills my kitchen.

Toronto’s Tea Market is On Fire

Toronto’s tea market is brewing.  Actually, it is on fire.  It seems that everywhere I turn; a new tea shop is in the midst of opening.  In an attempt to convince hot beverage drinkers to ditch the bag (tea bag) or the grind, an onslaught of tea purveyors are doing their best to tempt people with their creative, flavourful concoctions of blended tea leaves.  While some tea shops have remained a local neighbourhood fixture, others are aiming for a larger scale by pursuing national and international expansion.  Part of each tea shop’s success rests on its ability to build and educate a lifestyle around tea and the tea drinking experience.

Thanks to these next generation of tea steepers, tea has been given a new look and elevated to something that is perceived as trendy, healthy, refreshing and most importantly, delicious.  Gone are the days when tea was predominantly consumed by the septuagenarian plus demographic.  While some tea aficionados or purists may scoff at tea blends that bear little resemblance to its original terroir, and taste more like chocolate ice cream or caramel cupcakes.  Others rejoice in having a fun, and tasty alternative to coffee.

Basic Iced Tea Recipe: Adapted from Tealish recipe card

Ingredients:
8 teaspoons tea of your choosing (or approximately 3-4 tea bags)
4 cups of boiling water
Sweetener of your choice (approximately 1.5 teaspoons)
Mint leaves
Lemon slices

Equipment:
Kettle/pot
Jug/container for tea
Ice cube trays

Instructions:
Boil water. Steep according to package directions. Add desired sweetener.
Stir using stem of mint leaves until dissolved and well mixed. Add ice cubes and your favorite garnish.
Bottoms up!

Ways to make your tea extra special:

  1. Frozen fruit: Fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, can be frozen whole and used to chill the tea. Another option is to freeze the fruit in water in ice cube trays.
  2. Frozen herbs: As with the fruit cubes, herbs such as mint, can be frozen into the ice cube trays and added to the iced tea.
  3. Ice cubes: Using fun shaped ice cube trays can change the vibe of your drink. For example, ice cube stir sticks, boats, or dentures can liven up your beverage.
  4. Sweetener options: white sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave syrup
  5. Nectars: Fruit nectars, such as mango and pear, can be added to the iced tea. Garnish the glass with slices of the fruit.

I Want to Visit: Tealish 728 Queen Street West, Toronto

Make the Most of Your Time:

If you are looking for tantalizing desserts to serve at your next party, plump olives or want to send out invitations on special paper, here are five spots to visit around Tealish:
1.Nadege Patisserie
2.Dlish Cupcakes
3. The Spice Trader & Olive Pit
4. The Paper Place
5. Dufflet Pastries

MAP OF THE AREA: 

View Tealish + Queen Street West in a larger map

Other Favourite Tea Shops:

  • David’s Tea {Toronto}: davidstea.com Started in Montreal but opened its first store on Queen Street in Toronto.  The brand now boasts over 75 stores across Canada and two in the US.
  • T2 Two {Melbourne}: t2tea.com 10 stores around Australia with a phenomenal array of in-store tea merchandise and accessories.
  • Argo Tea {Chicago}: argotea.com Two words: self-serve!  Argo Tea has bottled and loose leaf tea options in their stores around the city.
  • Tea Bar {Amsterdam} teabar.nl A bright, white store that is part self-serve tea shop and part tea café.  Packaging was designed with some killer graphics.
  • Song Fang Maison de The {Shanghai}:  songfangtea.com Sells Chinese and French teas from a historic three story lane house in Shanghai’s French Concession as well as a shop location on the Bund.  The interior boasts an impressive collection of old antique tins.
  • TWG Tea {Singapore}: twgtea.com  Offers over 800 single estate fine harvest teas in its seven stores around the world.  We love their iconic yellow tins of tea that adorn the shelves of their stores and cafes.
  • The Gourmet Tea {Sao Paulo}:  thegourmettea.com.br Colourfully designed, modern pop-up tea store that emerges from behind coloured panels to reveal a tea bar and merchandise.

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