Over the past few years, loose leaf tea shops have been popping up across the city. Now Canadians have access to traditional blends from around the world, as well as seasonal infusions and creative flavour combinations. For those of us who are looking to be a bit healthier by reducing our caffeine intake, tea offers a great alternative.
But for the true tea aficionados, loose leaf tea has other advantages. It’s generally shipped in smaller batches. Because it sits on the shelf for less time before you buy it, the tea retains more of its natural flavour and health properties.
Like brewing a fresh pot of coffee, there’s also a certain ritual to preparing loose leaf tea. Rather than just popping a tea bag into a mug, you’ll need to adjust the amount of tea you use, the heat of the water, and the amount of time you use to brew it. Most specialty teas will come with their own brewing instructions, but if you’re unsure, Seven Cups offers these helpful guidelines.
And while it might seem a little bit more expensive, remember that you can infuse the leaves more than once to enjoy their full range of flavours.
If you’re new to drinking anything other than a cup of English Breakfast, the sheer variety can seem a bit intimidating. Don’t be afraid to ask a shop’s staff, who can point you in the direction of options that fit your taste preferences. Take your time and smell any blend that catches your fancy. Many places are happy to brew you up a sample, as well.
If you’re not sure where to start looking, these are our picks for the top loose leaf tea shops in Vancouver and Toronto…
You can count on Salon Tea to provide customers with a stylin’ experience at their Granville location in Vancouver. Not only do they sell some of the best loose teas in Canada but their baked goods are to die for. The cute and quirky tea boutique also offers patrons an impressive selection of awesome tea accessories, bath and beauty products and cookbooks (perfect for the Van City foodie).
Located on Main Street in Vancouver, ShakTea is definitely a place for tea lovers who are looking to get out of the city bustle for a little R&R. Grab a glass of your favourite tea, sit back and just relax…
House of Tea
Beloved by Toronto’s tea lovers, House of Tea offers hundreds of teas. Its selection of Chinese teas is among the finest in the city. Co-owner and tea consultant, Marisha Golla, is always happy to offer her expertise when it comes to making a selection.
Perhaps the most well-known of the specialty tea shops, DAVIDsTEA has expanded from an online business to having multiple retail locations. The more than 150 teas on offer in their shops run the gamut from traditional blends to much-loved signature flavours, like coco chai rooibos and red velvet cake. Always keeping tea-lovers on their toes, they even release a seasonal collection of teas each quarter.
The Tea Emporium
The Tea Emporium has been built on founder Shabnam Webster’s sheer dedication and passion for tea. She’s deeply knowledgeable about the entire process – from the harvesting of the leaves to the brewing of each cup. This is clear in the quality of the teas that she offers and the ingenuity of the tea-related events she hosts in her shops.
If you’re a tea drinker, do you prefer loose tea or tea bags? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.