Tea shops are making a comeback
Since its inception during the third century AD, tea has become the most widely consumed beverage worldwide — after water. Customs and ceremonies around this originally medicinal drink abound, including afternoon tea, courtesy of our neighbours across the pond. Presently, tea rooms from east to west, with a staple of seasonal blends both old and new, delectable finger food on tiered trays and even Victorian hats, lend the ritual new appeal.
Teatime at this serene Montreal establishment is an experience. A selection of some 40 teas, sourced from China, Japan, India, Vietnam and Taiwan by owners-cum-tasters Hugo Américi, Kevin Gascoyne, François Marchand and Jasmin Desharnais can be enjoyed using the infusion technique from its country of origin. Whether steeped Gaiwan, Gong Fu Cha or Senchado-style, the menu boasts the ideal sweet accompaniment for your brew of choice, including Japanese-style pastries made in house.
In Victoria’s Chinatown district, this quaint tea room is the fruit of a love affair that, incidentally, blossomed over a cup of tea. Husband-and-wife team Sallie and Alain El Alaily run the vintage-inspired eatery, where afternoon tea includes classic varieties like Earl Grey and Darjeeling alongside signature blends like the house’s Cherry Blossom tea (Japanese sencha laced with natural cherry and rose notes). Sandwiches, scones, savouries and petits fours — think roasted butternut squash aioli sandwiches and Blue Sapphire Earl Grey shortbread — sweeten the deal while vintage bicycles overhead add to the whimsical atmosphere.
The Toronto Windsor Arms Hotel’s afternoon tea service, much like its posh tea rooms, is a sophisticated affair. Black Velvet (ginseng, peppermint, liquorice and China black) and Russian Caravan (lapsang, souchong and bergamot) are just a couple of the eclectic teas on offer, together with a glass of sherry, Chardonnay or Prosecco for good measure. The delicacies on offer, like a goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart and smoked salmon and wasabi sour cream with salmon caviar sandwiches, are equally enticing.