Tea Shops Review 1

4 06 2010

Today I started doing what I’ve always needed to do but kept running out of time on: finding a place that sells good Earl Grey tea.

Ever since buying that really expensive earl grey at Afternoon Tea in Japan (about $2/bag), I’ve been craving superb earl grey here in Canada. But considering I know nothing about tea and I don’t do that thermometer and timer thing, I can only fumble my way through this all tea sampling thing. Regardless! I tried the earl grey from two shops with a friend today and here is my review!

Tealish:
50g bag for $5.50, free of tax (or included) and staples (staple-less stapler for the receipts).

Great scent, better than the Tetley crap you get at supermarkets but a bit… impure. It smells like there’s something else mixed in with the earl grey, a faint whiff of something that resembles preserved Chinese plum fruit thingers. The tag says the base is a Chinese black tea and has blue mallow blossoms and yellow sunflower blossoms as highlights.

Taste-wise, it’s okay. You can’t really taste (what I think is) the bergamot and there’s no bitter tea taste (that I actually really love). But it’s not bad for the price. Comes in a silver reseal-able bag with a label that describes the tea and some steeping instructions.

The Red Tea Box:
1 pot for $8.75, sit down tea. 2oz. bag for $12, paper bag then wrapped again in plastic. 1oz. tin for $9 (or something).

Because this had a sit down place we chose to have a pot instead of buying more leaves that’ll take me years to finish if I didn’t particularly like it. The smell again, was nice, and purer than Tealish. Leaves look to be pure tea (no flowers) and all they could tell me was that it’s a normal Ceylon for the base. The tea was just as bland but with more bitterness to it. I’m not too crazy about this one either.

The good thing is, they had some nice sandwiches in their Mad Hatter Sandwich Set ($25). The set included an Indian spiced chicken sandwich with avocado and romaine lettuce (I think, I’m not into lettuces) on raisin bread, chicken wellingtons with curry potatoes on it, carrot cake with berries on top, scones, banana bread, and.. some other cake/bread thing.

The amount was decent for the price but still a little pricey for afternoon munchies. The scones were definitely too sweet for the tea they served but it may just be me. Tea is served with milk and honey and tiny shortbread cookie squares. Decor is lovely but the dishes, utensils etc are very mismatched and confused.

Verdict:
Buy tea at Tealish if they have what you need, at least in terms of earl grey. But that’s not set in stone until I actually try the teas side by side one day. Go to The Red Tea Box for some dainty but filling munchies in the afternoon and don’t panic when you’re getting out of the bathroom (read the unlocking instructions under the knob).

I know the lack of pictures makes this a boring review but I didn’t think to bring my camera today so maybe next time.

Shops found through this, feel free to suggest others.