Monday, February 23, 2015


When I was younger, I did not like tea. It was during my early 20s that I developed a preference for tea after I dined with a friend at The Bombay Grill.

In addition to its tasty Indian food, the restaurant also served a delicious masala chai--this spiced, sweetened, milky beverage was the tea that launched a thousand sips!

In the afternoons and evenings, I drink caffeine-free teas such as Clipper's herbal chai infusion which I'm enjoying here with gulab jamun, brown milk balls covered with sweet syrup.

I love all things coconut so of course, I had to try Zhena's coconut chai green tea...but the "sweet hint of tropical coconut" was too subtle for this gal to detect!

I've tried variations of chai tea over the years but the chai black tea is still my favourite.


I'm joining the following parties this week:
 Tea Time Tuesday
Friends Sharing Tea
Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Monday, February 16, 2015

Queen of Hearts

It was love at first sight when I saw Classic Coffee & Tea's Inside Out Heart cups and saucers on Angela's blog, Tea With Friends. Alas, the shipping fees from the U.S. were too expensive, so I bided my time until they made their way to a retailer north of the border.

My patience finally paid off last July when I found the Inside Out Heart cups and saucers at Chapters' online bookstore for 75% off the regular price. So this set of 6 multi-coloured cups and saucers with platinum handles only costs me $15 plus tax!

 Just when you think you couldn't be more enamored with the adorable cup and saucer... get a hearty surprise when tea is poured inside the cup! 

I found "Love Me Truly" at HomeSense. I can't resist pretty tea boxes with cute sayings. The Clipper Teas company is from the UK and prides itself in producing "natural, fair & delicious" teas--its organic chai herbal tea definitely was delicious!

The whimsical cups and saucers were used at my office's Valentine Social on Friday the 13th.

The red, pink, and heart-shaped themed sweets.

Put a little love in your heart and the workplace will be a better place!

I'm joining the following parties this week:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Love is All Around

Ever year, Munn's United Church in Oakville hosts a Valentine's Social for tea lovers. I attended my first Valentine's Tea about 7-8 years ago and enjoyed the delicious sandwiches, scones and teas so much that I've tried to participate every year.

Alas, I was unable to attend this year's event so this is the table setting from the 2014 Valentine's Tea. During the teas, the MC would share some interesting tea facts as part of a trivia game.

The impressive assortment of homemade scones were served with clotted cream and jam. The sandwiches were not pictured because they were devoured too quickly for this photographer to capture!

Of course, I chose the prettiest teacup on the table! I didn't get a picture of the manufacturer's stamp, but I'd hazard a guess that this was a Royal Albert teacup...

What I enjoyed the most about the afternoon tea is learning and sampling 3-4 teas from around the world. The proceeds from the Valentine's Tea are used to support local charities so everybody benefits!

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I wear either pink or red during the week. This is also the only time of year that I can get away with wearing these tacky, but cute, hot pink heart-shaped earrings!

Source: Veterans Affairs Canada
For the past decade, I've also been participating in the Valentines for Vets program organized by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). This is a great opportunity to honour our Veterans in long-term care facilities and thank them for their service to our country. The Valentines must be submitted to the VAC's Head Office by February 1st so that they can be distributed to the Veterans in time for February 14th.

This week I am joining the following parties:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Toronto Tea Festival

On the last day of Hot Tea Month, I attended the 3rd Annual Toronto Tea Festival. I was unable to attend the previous festivals so I was extremely excited to finally go this year.

Isn't it amazing how tea brings together people from all ages and cultures? Large crowds make me feel claustrophobic but I kept calm and drank tea!

Kevin Gascoyne, a tea taster from Camellia Sinensis Tea Houses with over 20 years' experience of traveling to Asia to purchase teas, delivered a fun and enlightening 1-hour presentation on tea basics. The science nerd in me particularly enjoyed hearing about his research team's experiments which debunked common myths about the antioxidants and caffeine levels in different types of teas.

 The Korean tea ceremony was performed by Sun-hee Jung (middle table) and her two trainees.
The Chinese Tea Ceremony was performed by Sabrina Chen. The performers' graceful and fluid movements were impressive. There was also a Japanese Tea Ceremony, but we didn't have an opportunity to view it. Now we move from the ancient cultural ceremonies...

to the sci-fi future of tea brewing...Yes, there's an app for that: teaBOT!

The tablet is used to customize your own blend of tea. The teas are dispensed through the main funnel, while the hot water is delivered through the metal spigot. The owners of teaBOT hope to set up these self-serve tea kiosks around the greater Toronto area sometime in the near future.

With over 40 (mostly Canadian-based) exhibitors of teas, teawares, tea products, and snacks, the selections were overwhelming! From top to bottom: Lemon Lily, Capital Tea, Samadhi Tea House.

From top to bottom: Majesteas, Riston Tea, Tao Tea.

Clockwise from top right: 3 Teas, Momo Tea, Basilur Tea (which had the prettiest tea canisters at the festival!)

From top to bottom: King's Cafe, T by Daniel,The Tea Emporium.

Tea and All Its Splendour

Our entry ticket included one free tasting cup which we definitely put to good use! I usually gravitate towards flavoured teas so to expand my palate, I tried some oolong teas: Capital Tea's Alishan Jin Xuan (left) and Majesteas' Shangri La (right). I prefered the Shangri La because of its slight fruity taste.

Arsh Inc.'s green tea (left) was okay. The hot cinnamon spice black tea from Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar tasted exactly like cinnamon heart candies.

We also had samples from Tao Tea: Ginger and Tangerine herbal infusions (top) and Blueberry Rooibos (bottom; too tart to my liking!).

Tea-Ara (cute name!) was also serving samples of their herbal infusions and rooibos which would also taste good iced.

To determine which pu-erh we should sample, the vendor (I can't recall the company's name) touched our hands. My mom got white pu-erh, while I was good for any of the pu-erh teas...I ended up tasting the white pu-erh too which was alright.

There was nary a sight of dainty English-style bone china tea sets...

...but there were Chinese-style teawares galore!

For the trendy and hip tea drinkers: Grosche's modern glass teawares.

Of course no tea is complete without the proper snack! We brought home some of Sugar Peony's tea-infused macarons (top). The scones (bottom) enticed people to visit T-Bud's Tea Lounge and Creperie for the perfect afternoon tea experience. We also tried Sprucewood's Shortbread Cookies but I was too busy stuffing myself with the yummy cookies to take a photo.

Now I exercised GREAT RESTRAINT and came home with a modest(ish) loot of tea goodies: 3 teas (Basilur's White Moon green tea; Lemon Lily's Cherry Blossom green tea; Riston's chocolate truffle black tea); a Tea book autographed by Kevin Gascoyne (one of the co-authors); Bare English & Co.'s passionfruit hand and body cream; Sprucewood's maple and lemon shortbread cookies; and Sugar and Peony's macarons. The bag and glass cup were complimentary.

My favourite purchase was Riston's Margaret tea--a black tea blend with chocolate and Irish cream. I was sold as soon as I saw it because:
a) the tea shared my name (although I bear no resemblance to the doll on the photo!);
b) the tin was purple;
c) the chocolate flavour (and it smelled heavenly too!).

I'm already looking forward to next year's tea festival!

This week, I'm joining the following parties: