How to find ethically produced tea

A few years ago while nicely enjoying my tea and reading the news, I was seeing mentions of the conditions of tea pickers in some areas of India. What I was reading was enough for me to put down my tea and look at it wondering just how badly the people who picked it might be suffering to make ends meet, feed their families, send their kids to school – everything most Westerners who drink tea in bucketfuls take for granted. This heartbreaking article about how thousands of young mothers in India are dying while producing tea will greatly open your eyes to the conditions of workers on mass production tea plantations.

Tea pickers in Wayanad District of India

Tea pickers in Wayanad District of India. Creative Commons License: Steenbergs

According to University of Michigan News, “In the U.S. the most-prized first-flush tea leaves—designated SFTGFOP, meaning ‘Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe’—sell for more than $60 for eight ounces, when you can get them. But the field workers who pick the delicate leaves earn just over a dollar for a full day’s work.” (1)

That is a lot of money for a little bit of tea and very little money for the people who pick it. Then I was seeing mentions of protests by tea plantation workers who just wanted enough to feed their kids eggs and send them to school.

An article in The Hindu Business Line covering protests in India by tea workers said, “Sheela Dorjee complained that it was impossible to educate her children beyond the primary level. ‘Our children are only 10 or 15 years old. They have to work so that our families can survive,’ she said. Sumitra Topua insisted that workers like her should be paid a minimum wage of at least ₹300 ($4.49USD) a day. ‘We need that to cover just our education and medical costs. Our bosses have cars. We don’t even have a cycle. Are birthdays, funerals or weddings not important for people like us?’ (2)

In the same article, they talk about the protests by plantation workers who just want a minimum wage.

“With workers in Darjeeling being paid a daily wage of ₹90 ($1.34USD) and those in the Dooars and Terai regions earning a marginally higher ₹95 ($1.42USD) a day, there was a growing clamour for the introduction of a minimum wage.” (2)

Wait! Didn’t they just say that the workers need ₹300($4.49USD) a day? I started thinking that there have to be options out there where we’re not drinking the blood, sweat and tears of people who have an incredibly steep uphill battle to improve their lives. While these protests mentioned in these articles happened a few years ago, the image above of tea pickers protesting is from February 11, 2017 in a different part of India.

Where to find ethically produced teas?

So I started looking into teas that are produced ethically. First I looked locally here in the US, and the options are small. There is an organization that manufacturers and retailers can join to show that their teas are produced ethically, The Ethical Tea Partnership. They work with producers and NGOs to help with training of tea producers and certification that helps end consumers figure out if the tea has been produced in a way that helps improve the lives of its farmers. The producers do have to contribute money to this program, so it may be cost prohibitive to smaller operations to get the certification. I’ll do a subsequent article about this later.

However, it was the concept of tea farmer co-ops that gave me real confidence that the tea I was drinking was helping the not only the farmers but the community where it’s produced. We hear about co-ops more when it comes to fair-trade coffee than we do when talking about tea. By their nature, co-ops are democratically organized and smaller in scale. And the people working on the farms not only have direct control over their conditions, they also get a fair share of the earnings for the tea sold that year.

The first time that I tasted a tea from a co-op was when Teatulia ( was at Whole Foods giving out samples. The man I spoke with there was from Teatulia and gave me a few samples to bring home. Their tea comes from a single garden in Northern Bangladesh at the base of the Himalayas. My first impression was that they were stronger and earthier than I’m used to, but good. The difference that I was tasting could very well be attributed to the fact that their tea is grown in Bangladesh. They’ve consistently placed at the North American Tea Championship for the past five years (2015 not included for some reason).

Kanchanjangha Organics – Nepal Tea

Another co-op that I’ve recently learned about in the past few months is Kanchanjangha Organics(KTE) Nepal Tea. This co-op reached out to me to talk about their teas, and the more and more I heard the more and more I loved the idea of their co-op. Similar in concept to Teatulia, but in Nepal. Nepalese teas are so similar to Darjeeling teas that they’re sometimes sold under the Darjeeling name. I asked Nepal Tea founder, Nishchal Banskota, about their growing conditions being similar:

“Our garden actually borders Darjeeling, so I would say the climatic conditions, topography, elevation would pretty much be the same. Yes, our teas are very much comparable to Darjeeling teas. In fact, in the past couple of years what has been happening is that Darjeeling is selling more tea than it can actually produce (given the land that they have), so to cater to the growing demand, there have been instances where they buy Nepal teas and sell it under their brand. This is one of the major reasons I have taken into my hands to build a separate identity for Nepal Tea itself. So, the point is, it is very much comparable but ours would be more floral and a little less muscatel in terms of black tea.”

Raising up Nepal Tea families

Not only do they have the co-op but they also give farmers free housing, loan out cows to supplement farmers’ food and income and fund scholarships for local children to go to school through university. These kids come back and add to their community. Banskota explained:

“We have provided scholarship to 2300 students till date, and I added 96 more students in 2016. The scholarship is divided into two phases. One is for primary till grade 10. And if the students are interested, a buyer from Japan actually collaborates with us to fund higher education in specific fields of study mostly that are of high importance to the village such as organic farming, engineering, entrepreneurship and so on.”

Two sample success stories that Banskota relayed included one where a girl, now woman, named Januka received scholarships for 13 years, and she now runs her own Ayurvedic clinic in the village. Another scholarship success story is of Pradip who received scholarships for about 12 years, and he now works as an accountant in our own factory. “There are 3 nurses, 2 vets, 1 engineer that I personally know of and many that I don’t even know,” said Banskota

Watch this video put together by Nepal Tea:


KTE Nepal Tea – Review

Kanchanjangha Noir, KTE Nepal Tea Tasting

Kanchanjangha Noir, KTE Nepal Tea Tasting

KTE Nepal Tea sent me samples to try their teas for free. Because black tea is my favorite (I need my caffeine), I tried their Kanchanjangha Noir first. My first reaction – I could drink this without milk; there’s very little bitterness and it’s smooth. Granted, after leaving it in the teapot for a while while I worked and sipped my tea, it brewed too long and got slightly bitter. But still no earthiness in it that isn’t an everyday taste I’m going after. There is a marked difference in quality than your usual black tea out there, even when compared to more well-known higher-end brands. I can definitely taste that this isn’t a mass produced tea and the whole leaves make quite a difference. I was able to pour it out of my teapot with very few leaves coming out. I’m not a certified tea taster, so I don’t know all the descriptions on how to describe the taste of tea. But because I’ve had so much tea, I know what I like. And I LOVE this tea. Bonus is that it’s organic.

How to get your own KTE Nepal Tea – Kickstarter

Right now until March 8, 2017 at 2pm PST you can help Nepal Tea grow their business with their Kickstarter  and perhaps get a section of the farm all for yourself .

There are various levels at which you can contribute:

  • $25 –50g of tea or 10 bags
  • $50 – 100g of tea or 20 bags and a tea cup
  • $75 – 150 g of tea and 2 tea cups
  • $100 – 11 types of tea (6 g) , 5 tea bags, 6 g of Golden Needle
  • $150 – a HALF YEAR of tea
  • $250 – a YEAR of tea
  • $250 – Sampler of all teas and help a farmer learn meditation
  • $500 – Sponser a child’s year of education plus a HALF YEAR of tea
  • $750 – Give a cow and get a YEAR of tea
  • $1000 – a plot of 100 tea bushes will be named after you and you get 5 POUNDS of tea AND you get the first offer to buy 50 lbs of tea in subsequent years
  • $4000 – a plot of 1000 tea bushes will be named after you, you get the ENTIRE FIRST YEAR’S HARVEST of that plot, processed to your liking, and an option to private label it.
  • $5000 – 7-day tour of the area with Nishchal Banskota, plus all the benefits of the $1000 level, and you get to go home with 5 POUNDS of tea.
  • $10,000 – Build an eco-house for a family, and get 1000 tea bushes all to yourself.

If I had the money to invest, I’d do both the $5,000 and $4,000 level. But the average Joe purchase at the lower levels are a deal. You can chip in to help on Kickstarter here:

  1. Tea and sympathy: Fair trade leads to unfair deal for Darjeeling workers, March 18, 2014, Michigan News
  1. The brew darkens, March 6, 2015, The Hindu Business Line,
  2. Darjeeling growers seek to halt Nepal tea imports, The Hindu, July 15, 2016


Is there a tea that can compete with coffee?

We are definitely not a coffee family in my house. But with kids, work, school, life…there are times when we need that jolt of caffeine that only coffee or Red Bull seem to give – and I hate the taste of both! Caramel Black HiCaf Tea - The Republic of TeaSo when a free sample from The Republic of Tea arrived in the mail with some of the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea in the box I was a little  little skeptical. Was it really going to be as strong as any coffee or an energy drink? Is it going to taste like sludge? If it does have a lot of caffeine am I going to get a migraine? (It happens some time.) I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

So I let it sit in the cabinet for a week until my 3-year-old daughter decided that wouldn’t it be nice to wake mommy and daddy up at 6 am on a Saturday. Sun’s up, so we all must be up. I could barely keep my eyes open. Then I remembered – the tea! So I made a cup for my husband and myself.

Taste  – It’s a smooth slightly sweet caramel on top of a nice traditional black. If you like sweet, you will LOVE this tea with a touch of sugar. It was fine without any sugar, not overly sweet. My husband and his big sweet tooth (and sugar cubes) thought this was the bee’s knees. He should be writing this review he loved it so much, but alas he’s too busy.

Caffeine content - Hi Cafe Tea - The Republic of TeaBuzz – So I was raring to go after this one cup, but without being jittery like I get with coffee. It kept me going until the afternoon. I got through all the cleaning in the house, some projects and went to the park on one cup of tea. Usually I need 3 cups.  There’s 123 mg of caffeine in a properly brewed 6 oz cup of this HiCaf Tea! Wow! It even has a warning on the label.  And I was buzzing about like the busy little bee that’s on their label. My husband on the other hand was not feeling as pumped up as me – awake but not exactly ready to conquer the world and the moon like me. But he’s not as sensitive to caffeine as I am. I could have used this tea at university when I needed to stay up late writing a paper but still needed to think coherently.

The Next Day

Hi Caf Tea - The Republic of TeaMy husband got to the kitchen first on Sunday morning and decided to brew a pot of tea – the nice husband that he is. You can probably guess where this is going. He put in the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea, because he loved the taste of it so much. Also, he failed to tell me that he put that in the pot. I thought it was another caramel that we had in the cabinet. Silly me! This did not bode well for me. Since I’m more sensitive to caffeine I was seeing the effects of drinking 3 cups of it. Needless to say when I realized what happened, I was downing water to flush it out. I was okay. But I could see if you have kids in the house who drink tea and might not understand that this one has too much caffeine for them, you’re going to want to put this tin in an odd/out-of-the-way place.


If you like slightly sweet teas and you need a quick jolt of energy – get the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea from The Republic of Tea stat! It will save you on the weariest of mornings. And it tastes good to boot. Not a combination that you always get – one that you definitely don’t get with Red Bull (imho).  But be aware of just how much caffeine you’re taking in.

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

TeaVivre review

I’ve tasted my first tea direct from China, and it seems to make a difference. Back in December, before moving countries and a series of technological catastrophes, the good people at TeaVivre sent me free samples of their tea. After a few emails and reading information about their company, I found them to be a rather refeshing take on the online tea shop. TeaVivre is a group of tea lovers and aficionados from China, Canada and France, who all share a passion for drinking great tea. The name of the company plays on the French phrase, “Joie de vivre”, which means “joy of living”or “enjoyment of life”, and with TeaVivre their aim is to  spread the joy of tea online.

TeaVivre packaging of tea

TeaVivre packaging

This group of friends frequently travel through the country visiting China’s tea plantations so they can track down only truly exceptional teas for themselves. They follow a business ethic of honesty and trust, where the relationship and satisfaction of both customers and suppliers is a central focus. And wherever possible, they source 100% organically grown and produced tea. Because they actually visit the tea plantations, they can build relations with their suppliers and verify their growing and production methods and techniques. I find this approach something that is rare to find outside of China. I would think that not many boutique tea vendors outside of China can make the trip more than once a year. Perhaps that’s the difference that I’m tasting in the tea.

Shipment of TeaVivre

What the TeaVivre shipment looks like

You can buy directly from TeaVivre at Each tea on their website includes a detailed description and reviews from customers. They offer several shipping options to the U.S. The USPS one seems a bit pricey to me if you’re only buying a small amount. My free sample was sent via China Air and it arrived ok, only a slight ding in the box’s corner that didn’t effect the tea itself, but the USPS option is faster.

TeaVivre Black Tea Brewed

TeaVivre's black tea brewing

On to the tea itself. I invited my friend over to help me sample the Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea – Golden Tip. According to their website, “Dian Hong black tea, also known as Yunnan black tea, is one of China’s most famous black teas.  This is the highest grade Dian Hong generally available in China – called Golden Tip Dian Hong. [I haven’t verified that, but I’ll take it at face value.]  It has lots of orange pekoe in the dried tea, and brews into an absolutely great tasting, golden coloured tea, with a very rich taste and aroma.” Each bag is vacuumed sealed and I would think helps keep it seem as fresh as the day it was packed. My sample was produced in May (it was December when I brewed it). How do I know? Well, I was surprised to see that their labelling is more detailed than most teas you’ll see in your average tea shop. The label has everything you need to fully appreciate the tea: the place of origin, manufacturer, production date, storage instructions, shelf live and brewing guide.

TeaVivre loose tea leaves

A closeup of the dry tealeaves

The tea leaves themselves are whole. Amazingly there was little to no breakage of the long golden leaves even though it was shipped in a small box across the Pacific (good packing!). The moment I opened the package a sweet hay smell escaped that I attribute to a recently dried green leaf. I brewed it following the brewing instructions and in a glass teapot to get a better sense of its color. Very quickly the water turned golden and then to deep amber – for me a sign of a good pekoe. If it weren’t for the tea press in the pot it would have gotten too strong for my tastes sitting in there while drinking a cup, so you might want to brew it in smaller batches if you’re only pouring a cup or two at a time. It’s a strong black tea, but it’s smooth with a malty sweetness to it that help to not be overpowering. Also, I felt like my taste buds were tricking me as there was a hint of pepperiness to it. My friends, a tea appreciator but not necessarily a connoisseur, liked it and said it was a good pairing with our scones, raspberry jam and Devonshire cream. I agreed. Overall, I highly recommend buying this as your first black tea from TeaVivre.

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

Alice’s Tea Cup

Given that we’re in New York for a wedding with a 10 month old in tow, we haven’t had a lot of time to explore tea houses as I would have wanted (excuse for another visit). But we did make it to Alice’s Tea Cup yesterday.

20111110-195430.jpgAlice’s has been recommended to me by many people, probably because I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. It’s a cozy yet roomy tea house – as only a Lewis Carroll inspired restaurant could be. We went to ‘chapter ii’ on E 64th. There’s another location on the upper east side and one on the upper west. don’t expect it to be full on Alice a la Disney. It’s tastefully whimsical with a Victorian flare and quotes from the story on the walls.

The staff were incredibly welcoming and accommodating. We had our small umbrella stroller and left it downstairs at the tiny entrance, while baby was with us in a high chair upstairs. I got the impression that while they appreciate smaller strollers they would do their best to accommodated the SUV-esque ones that are popular. But there is very little room-you’re warned!

We arrived fairly early and breakfast was still being served. And guess what! They have a Mad Hatter breakfast tea – 3 tiers of breakfast favorites: a scone, eggs (mostly eaten in picture), and homemade granola with yogurt. Where else can you get a proper morning tea?

It was more delicious than expected. I had the buttermilk scone and hubby had the vegan coconut lemon scone – both were moist and yummy. Eggs were scrambled to perfection. The granola was slightly more browned than I’m used to but was flaky and nutty (how apropos for a Mad Hatter tea). All in all I give it an A.

Now for the tea. Their tea menu is a book. So when you sit down decide what kind of tea you want ( black, green, red, flavored, scented, decaf, etc.) and go from there. Since it was my first time I went with the house blend – Alice’s tea. It’s a black blend with a bit of green in it. I thought it was slighty floral, but maybe that was the jet lag. Either way, it was a nice compliment to the breakfast. Hubby had a vanilla caramel blend and it satisfied his sweet tooth. Baby is still too little for tea.

Will I go back? Yes. And I may make it a tradition for my daughter and me. Afterward we strolled over to the park for photos in front of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.

Today’s tea: Viennese Blend

It’s number 996 in the TeaGschwendner Book of Tea. 20110714-025054.jpgIt describes it as

An Austrian specialty steeped in the tradition of Vienna’s famous baked delicacies, most notably the “sacher torte”. Selected teas from Darjeeling and Ceylon are treated to a hint of bergamot and jasmine. Ingredients: black teas from Darjeeling and Ceylon, jasmine blossoms and natural flavor.

It’s a nice golden orange color after brewing it the recommended 2 minutes. There’s just a hint of bergamot and doesn’t overwhelm the palate as some Earl Greys can. And there’s more than a hint of jasmine, which I love. The stronger jasmine flavor/aroma could be due to the fact that the use full blossoms, not pieces as can be seen in other brands. It is slightly on the bitter side.

Best places for sit-down tea in Vancouver

Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

We took a look at the best places for on-the-go tea in Vancouver last time.  So now you’re probably asking – where are the places to have a relaxing sit-down tea. While I haven’t exhausted all the options for a nice tea in Vancouver, here’s a list of places that are either my favorites or are on my list of places to go (in no particular order):

  • Murchies825 W. Pender St (North side between Hornby & Howe) – Not only can you get tea to go here, but you can get a quick lunch (a menu that changes but usually offers sandwiches and shepherd’s pie) and delicious scones. Their tea is great and their scones (with cream and jam) are so good that my friend and I have trouble resisting them.
  • Urban Tea Merchant1070 West Georgia St. @ Thurlow (also on the North Shore in the West Vancouver Mall Village) – This downtown location just opened this year and they did a great job in separating the store from the tea room. The elegant, quiet room is the perfect respite from busy downtown. They have an excellent selection of a la carte dishes as well as your traditional high tea selections. The West Coast Tea for two is not to missed if you enjoy salmon. And if you’re not up for full high tea, the petite tea hits the spot. Plus you can choose from an enormous selection Theodor tea to pair with your meal. Reservations recommended.
  • Muzi Tea Bar –  870 west cordova street (by Canada Place) – This very sleek tea bar has some seating, but makes lovely traditional japanese teas as well as those with a modern twist. A good spot down by Canada Place for a rest. There’s a lovely milk/rose tea latte.
  • Pekoe Tea Lounge (formerly Steeps) – 895 W Broadway –  What’s great about this place is it’s homey atmosphere and the fact there’s a tea sniffing station from which you can choose your tea. You may find the Shitty Weather Tea apropos. If you’re with a group you can snag the couches in the back. Or if it’s just the two of you, the armchairs against the large windows in the front are a good spot for people watching. They have a small selection of cakes and sweets as well as some savories, such as samosas.
  • T1568 West Broadway – This is the tea that the Fairmont uses for their high teas, as do several other high-end hotels and restaurants around the world. It’s austere atmosphere looks like it’s only a shop, but you can order tea to stay or go. And you can also sniff the teas at your leisure before ordering. My fav here is the Mad Hatter tea.
  • The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver High Tea900 W Georgia Street – Dubbed Tea at the Castle, its held every day from 2 – 4:30pm. Traditional Afternoon Tea includes exclusively blended Fairmont teas (from T), finger sandwiches, tasty pastries, and scones and fresh strawberries with Devonshire cream. To make your tea extra special, order the Champagne tea by adding a glass of Moët & Chandon. For the kids, there’s the Children’s Bubblegum Tea that includes finger sandwiches (PB&J, you can always order something else if you’re anti-PB), fresh strawberries and cream, a giant chocolate chip cookie and a seasonal fruit tartlet. Reservations – strongly recommended.
  • Wedgewood Hotel Baccus Afternoon Tea845 Hornby Street – Weekends 2-4pm – (Not open during Olympics) This intimate setting in one of Vancouver’s best award-winning restaurants, plus the hotel is consistently on Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure lists. This afternoon tea offers a lovely selection of teas with finger sandwiches, a selection of tarts and pastries, and, of course, scones with Devonshire cream and jam. And for adults, you can add an extra special twist with a Kir Royal (cassis and champagne). Reservations recommended.
  • Secret Garden Tea Company5559 West Boulevard – Located in the posh Kerrisdale neighborhood, this tea room feels like you’re in a quaint English cottage.   It’s one of Vancouver’s favorites for special occasions and mother-daughter/son teas. For high tea, they have seatings at 12, 2, and 4pm. Reservations are a must. Choose from 40 different teas paried with a three-tiered tray of miniature pastries, sweets, scones, Devonshire cream, raspberry jam, and sandwiches.
  • Adonia Tea House2057 West 41st Avenue – Located in the same neighborhood as Secret Garden, this cozy (and less formal) tea room offers an slight fusion of your traditional English tea with Asian touches.In additional to the traditional English afternoon and mini-afternoon teas, you can order slushies, a shaved ice platter, iced tea and iced coffee. Adonia also offers a la carte soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. And in the evening there’s also a section of pasta dishes.
  • Shaktea3702 Main St – Located in Vancouver’s hip Main St neighborhood, Shaktea brings the calm of yoga to tea. Your tea is served in individual tea pots that sit atop candle warmers to make sure it doesn’t cool as you relax and chat away the afternoon. There’s always a tea awaiting for you to sample prior to ordering and a lovely selection of gourmet pastries and cakes. 

  • Finch’s Tea & Coffee House353 West Pender – I have to say that while they serve good quality loose-leaf tea, it’s their sandwiches that I come here for. The brie and pear and the tomato and bocconcini baguettes are the best! Get their early before the lunch rush to get a seat.
  • Starbucks – one on nearly every corner – Vancouver embraced Starbucks as if it were a long lost child. And you can’t go 2 blocks in this city without coming across one. Their tea mistos (don’t call them lattes) are pretty good. And if you just want to get off your feet, it fits the bill.

Murchie’s Prince Charles Tea

Today, my friend and I stopped for a a quick tea at British Columbia’s oldest tea company, Murchie’s. We split a current scone with some thick and creamy Devonshire cream and lovely raspberry jam. And I paired it with a cup of Prince Charles tea.

Maybe it’s the media coverage of Prince Charles’ visit to Canada that had me thinking about this tea, but I couldn’t help myself from ordering it. It’s an extremely strong, rich blend of UVA Highland, Darjeeling, Extra Choice Keemun and Pure Assam. You’re going to want to have it with milk and sugar. To me its stronger than an Irish Breakfast tea. And when you’re facing the 2 o’clock blues after lunch in winter its the perfect thing to pick you up. And it’s a nice companion to the rich scone, cream and jam.

Murchie’s Tea & Coffee Ltd: Teas

The Urban Tea Merchant & Milky Oolong

Tea leaves

Recently I went to the Urban Tea Merchant in West Vancouver. I’ve been here before but this time was a bit different. In a good way. They’ve standardized on one tea brand, The Ô Dor.  While I will miss one of the other brands they used to carry, MARIAGE FRÈRES, I can get it at other places and The Ô Dor will give them a run for their money, if not beat them at their own game. It was probably a really smart move.

At the end of my lunch (which was delicious by the way), one of their lovely tea merchants, Reza, gave me a tour of some of their teas to introduce me to The Ô Dor. He was incredibly knowledgable about all the teas and the brand. He told me that the founder, Guillame Leleu, is one of the youngest people (26 when he founded the tea house) to pass the tea taster certification with as high of marks as he recieved.

I left with three teas to take home and sample:

  • THÉ DU LOUP – “The first creation of The Ô Dor, Tea of the Wolf. Flavours of chocolate and hazelnut with blended black teas from China and Ceylon. Considered by many as a perfectly natural anti-depressant, this warm source of stress-relief, summer and winter, will seduce the ladies as it will the gentlemen.” It certainly puts a smile on my face when I have it.
  • COÏNCIDENCE NOIR – “The Ô Dor wanted to propose a variation of a famous blend of tea for connoisseurs. For these enthusiasts, The Ô Dor has created a black tea, with captivating perfumes of the original creation, which is bound to attract attention.” It smells/tastes familiar, but I can’t place what it is.
  • CÉLÉBRATION – “Rich in flavours of cream, vanilla and roasted hazelnuts. A masterful creation to be enjoyed with or without milk. A true delight!” Mmmm…a lovely combination of flavors that I prefer with milk and sugar.

And there was one tea that I keep thinking about and am kicking myself for not getting while I was there – Milky Oolong. It’s a super rare mistake of a find. According to the story that was told to me, they were experimenting with the fermentation processes and decided to put it through the process one more time. And what they got was this devine tea that smells exactly like caramel, with tastes of vanilla and “milk with softness of voluptuous cream”. At $86/100 g, I’ll be getting just enough for 1 pot of tea next time.

One thing that they do that sounds like fun are the tea leaf readings every Monday night – but unfortunately I can’t get over there during the week.

I make it sound like The Urban Tea Merchant is hours away from me, but going across the Lions Gate Bridge is a bit of a commitment from Cambie Village. But luckily I won’t have to travel too far come November – they’re opening a location on Alberni St in Downtown Vancouver. And it’s only a few block from where I work. I’m sure I’ll be in there weekly, but I’ll have to hide the receipts from my lunch hour sojourns.

Conclusion: Check out The Urban Tea Merchant and the Milky Oolong.


The first creation of The Ô Dor, Tea of the Wolf. This tea has now become a favorite masterpiece for all. Flavours of chocolate and hazelnut with blended black teas from China and Ceylon. Considered by many as a perfectly natural anti-depressant, this warm source of stress-relief, summer and winter, will seduce the ladies as it will the gentlemen.

Bloomin’ Tea

I’ve seen blooming teas before, but they’ve just been your typical green/jasmine tea blooms. These are some rather lovely works of tea art.

Tags: , , ,

Starbucks Tea Time – Review

A friend and I managed to taste test a few of Starbucks new tea lattes. Here are their discriptions from the Starbucks site:

Overall, they’re good but sweet. And the infusions can be sickly sweet once you get to the bottom of the cup if you don’t keep stiring it while you’re drinking it. So if you don’t like your drinks too sweet, ask for it without syrup.

Right now, my favorite is the Vanilla Rooibos Latte. The London Fog is good too (so glad they went with the traditional name rather than the Earl Grey Misto that they were testing here in Vancouver.) I order my teas half sweet or with no syrup at all. The rooibos tea  has enough sweetness itself for me and doesn’t need the extra syrup. You also have to be super careful how you order the teas because they can pack a calorie punch. (You can calculate the calories for each on the Starbuck site or by following the links above.) So for me it’s a tall, non-fat, no syrup, Vanilla Rooibos Latte.

Starbucks Tea