No resolutions, but a promise

Cute little holiday card

I got a little extra cheer today, in the form of a holiday card that had been hiding at the bottom of my mailbox. Thanks, Betsy! I am now resolved to pull my mailbox down every now and again. That’s as close as I get to a New Year’s resolution.

I am not a resolution-maker, but I do like to make myself a promise or two now and again. Right now, in this gloomiest of Januaries, I’m promising to make time for more creative endeavours. My life has been a little too grindstone-centric of late. I’m missing writing for my blog, but even more I’m missing the connections to the people behind the scenes of my favourite blogs.

It’s not just writing and cooking, though, that I want to do more often. I want to get back to exploring community and creativity and I have a few ideas. I’m even considering joining a choir. (Too East Van? Maybe.)

For now though, I’m making a list of things that have the potential of brightening up the last few weeks of rainy, gloomy Vancouver winter. I encourage you to make your own list, wherever you are, then share it with me.

Get Out of the House

It’s nearly time for Dine Out Vancouver, which is a great, affordable way to experience creative set menus at some of Vancouver’s best restaurants. I’ve had some terrific meals and some interesting adventures at my Dine Out choices over the years.

You can also be fed, in a less literal way, with the smorgasbord of offerings from this year’s PuSh Festival.

Scottish Caramel Pu-erh

Or Hunker Down, I’m Not Judging You

There’s a new tea shop on Commercial Drive, Babylon Tea Company. Ye Olde East Van Tea Drinkers (we’re not a club, but we should be) have been speculating on when it would open for months. And now it has, I’m finding myself wanting to stay home and nurse a cup…well, let’s be real…a pot of their Scottish Caramel Pu-erh all evening. I’m actually afraid to go back, because I am susceptible to developing a tea of the week habit.

And speaking of good habits, the lovely folks at Tea Sparrow have a new initiative, the Community Grocer. Healthy, plant-based foods delivered to the door, helping you wait out winter. I’m hoping to tell you a little more about this soon.

The Globe & Mail Holiday Crossword

Be Good to Your Brain

Crave the spotlight? Find out if you’ve got chops at Vancouver Theatre Sports‘ Saturday drop-in.

Or get ready to conquer Paris with conversational aplomb with Alliance Francaise. It’s also a great excuse to go to Salade de Fruits for a long French language lunch.

And if you’re really daring, you can stretch both body and mind in one of Harbour Dance‘s many classes. Just make sure you invite me to opening night.

Okay, it’s back to the grindstone for me. But, I’m back on the regular in 2018 with lots to share with you. So add me to your list of gloom-chasing strategies. Or, maybe just grab a cup of tea and we’ll hang out.

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Dorie’s Cookies – Valentine’s Day Share-a-Heart & Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans

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In troubled times, nothing seems as healing as sharing food and company. I need to keep that in mind, the next time busy-ness and bitterness keep me away from my keyboard. Besides, in a city where the average rents are skyrocketing, we’re going to have to learn to rely on one another for sustenance and support. So, connecting through writing and food may become tools for survival as much as pleasurable pastimes.

That’s why Dorie Greenspan’s #cookiesandkindness initiative is such a timely project. Homemade cookies bring cheer while nourishing us in a deeply satisfying way – they may not be dinner, but psychologically and primally speaking, they will help assuage what ails you.

Valentine’s Day Share-a-Heart Cookies

Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart Cookies

Cookies certainly helped soothe my fellow committee members when we met on the evening of Valentine’s Day. I didn’t make one of the giant break-apart hearts that the recipe calls for, since it wouldn’t have fit on the table (or on the agenda, for that matter). Instead, passing these chocolate wafers around the table brought a necessary bit of cheer to the evening.

They remind me of Dorie’s Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta from Baking Chez Moi, with the same cocoa-forward flavour. The salt I used was a bit assertive, so I’ll probably reduce the quantity by 1/4 teaspoon next time I make these, but they were otherwise perfect. One of the delights of this book has been discovering how many delicious variations there can be for what seems like one of the most straightforward of cookies.

Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans

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Shortbread is another cookie with simple roots and infinite variations. This version is made for showing off and sharing. Subtle notes of rose complement the brightness of hibiscus. My tea also included lemongrass, which added another layer of flavour. Rice flour increases the sandy texture of the cookies, which is welcome in shortbread. It’s perfect for an afternoon tea of dreaming and planning for a better future.

I want to believe we can beat the historical odds against curbing inequality. I hope that affordable housing solutions like housing co-operatives can once again build diverse communities in our cities. I’d like to see intersectionality become the guiding principle in movements and in everyday life.

Along the way, I’ll be baking and cooking to soothe myself and to nourish those around me. It’s a small thing, but it’s a necessary one.

February’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Cookbooks galore!

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Things are getting festive around here – I just attended the first cookie swap of the season and on Commercial Drive, my local high street, there was a tree-lighting ceremony and festivities.

We’ve also reached the mid-point of my holiday cookbook review series – there are seven books this time around, so close enough. There are giveaways for five of the books, so I thought I’d post links to those posts here, so you can make sure you’ve entered.

Two of the giveaways are open to readers from Canada and the States, while three are (sorry U.S. friends) just for Canadian readers.

For Readers in Canada and the United States:

True to Your Roots will make you want root vegetables at every meal. The recipes are healthy, vegan, delicious.

Decolonize Your Diet is full of wonderful vegetarian recipes for healthful, modern Mexican-American food.

For Readers in Canada:

Pierogi Love takes this delicious dumpling in directions you’ve never imagined. It also offers the very dangerous knowledge that pierogies are really easy to make, once you know how.

DIY Vegan will have you filling your pantry and everyone else’s with their delicious staples, sauces, and treats.

Made In India is making Best of 2015 lists for good reason – it’s full of delicious recipes, great advice, and beautiful writing.

After that, I have two more cookbook reviews. Any of them would make great Christmas gifts – it’s been fun to read and cook through them!

Before the end of the year, I’ll also be talking to you about the Vancouver Tea Festival, reviewing a fine dining restaurant hidden away in a spectacular garden, hanging out with the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers for some spectacular holiday desserts, and bringing you at least one more G-W Portraits interview.

Sounds like a nice finish to the year.

The Canadian Coffee & Tea Show

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I received a media pass to attend the trade show and competitions at The Canadian Coffee & Tea Show, nevertheless, all opinions are my own.

Trade shows have a reputation for tedium, full of dry seminars for industry professionals, stationery samples, and towers of stale danishes.

But, imagine walking onto a trade show floor and almost immediately being handed a latte from one of your favourite local coffee chains. Then, spending the rest of the day sampling coffee, tea, chocolate, pastries and cocktails. All the while, competitions rage along to determine the best baristas and latte artists.

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That’s what visiting the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show is like. There was an enormous array of coffee roasters and tea importers from around the world, with suppliers of everything a coffee shop or tea room could want.

A month later, I’m still sorting through and absorbing the materials I brought home from the show, but I have a few highlights to share with you, along with some thoughts about the show and what it means for the state of hot beverages in Vancouver.

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Tea

I was a tea drinker for years before I ever touched a cup of coffee, so I was especially excited to see so many fine teas, highly qualified blenders and sommeliers, and the Tea Association of Canada at the show. I often drink coffee when I’m out, and as much as I enjoy it, there are many occasions when I wish I felt comfortable ordering tea, instead.

It can be difficult to find a good cup of tea in Vancouver, unless you’re at a tea room. There’s nothing worse than being served tea that’s improperly prepared, of poor quality, or both. Vancouver began solving its coffee problem in the 80s, so I’ve usually stuck with that at most of the places around town. (There’s one local coffee chain that particularly comes to mind – they have beautiful tea, chosen and blended by a talented team, but they pour almost half a cup of loose tea into a bag when they make a large cup. The tea is undrinkable and the leaves wasted.)

This is becoming less and less the case now, with the new generation of coffee shops focusing on the quality of everything they serve. They’re sourcing wonderful teas and preparing them precisely, making my decision of what to order very hard indeed.

This attention is reflected in the strong showing tea made at the show. Many of the conversations I had over the course of the two days left me feeling optimistic about the future of tea throughout Vancouver. Just as barista culture, artisan roasting, and the renaissance in brewing has elevated the quality of coffee in Vancouver, the influence of tea merchants and next gen coffee shops is elevating tea here, too.

So, you can expect to see more top shelf tea at coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants. But you should also expect more good quality tea at your grocery store, too. Though the emphasis at the show is on providing products to the industry, there were a number of retail brands in attendance at the show. I saw whole leaf tea, organic and fair trade brands, sommelier blends and more at the retail kiosks. The future of tea is bright in Canada.

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Coffee

For coffee, the future is already here, from discerning local roasting companies to innovative coffee shops. There was a dazzling display of machinery at the show, reminding me that coffee has a lot in common with cars – people love to look at race cars and long to bring an affordable version home. There were beautiful espresso machines, tap systems for everything from cocktails to sodas, and technological wonders.

But what’s really exciting now is that all the innovation we’ve seen in coffee brewing is ready to come home with you. Just look at this page on KitchenAid’s website, if you don’t believe me. Expect high quality coffee from local roasters to show up throughout the restaurant industry, while siphon and pour over machines appear on kitchen counters.

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Aspirations

One of the most enjoyable parts of the show was being introduced to products that were trying to find a foothold in Canada. There was tea from Nepal, chocolate from Ecuador, coffee from Brazil, and BKON’s Craft Brewer – an amazing machine that can infuse flavour into alcohol in seconds or brew a perfect cup of tea at precisely the right time and temperature. These were just a few of the exhibitors who were working to establish themselves here.

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Highlights

Edmonton’s Blue Hour Tea and their “sticky teas.” Premixing chai with Alberta honey is something different and delicious.

I’m hoarding the last of the samples I got from Lumbini Tea. Beautiful, whole leaf, flavourful tea is something to be savoured.

I was impressed by Trumps Fine Food‘s gluten-free collection. Producing tasty gluten-free goods in volume is difficult to pull off.

6 Mountains‘ Pu Erh tea was beautifully presented and served amidst the chaos of the trade show floor. It truly is the king of tea.

I learned a lot at the show and I’m looking forward to following up on leads for future stories, which I hope to share with you in the new year.

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In the meantime, I’m getting ready to visit the Vancouver Tea Festival. They’re at the Croatian Cultural Centre this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and I’ll tell you all about it next Tuesday. If you’re in Vancouver, though, you can find out for yourself. You can buy tickets to the Festival on their website, along with tickets to their educational sessions.

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Tea and Apples

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On Sunday, I had a near-perfect day. I started by baking apple pielettes, this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection. Then, I went to Heritage Hall for Tea Sparrow‘s Tea-Off. After tasting (and tasting again) eighteen teas, we walked a block and had dinner at Burgoo, one of my favourite places for comfort food in the city.

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The apple pielettes (or pielets, depending on your spelling preference) are going to become a seasonal feature in my kitchen. They’re made with the galette dough from Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi, which she describes as “both sturdy and supple.” Sturdy enough to hold the saucy apple filling, supple enough to fit into muffin cups easily. But when you bite into it, it’s not tough at all. Instead it’s flaky, tender, and delicious.

For the filling, I decided to keep things simple, opting for apples with apricot jam and a little cardamom and cinnamon. I don’t think I need to tell you the filling was as delicious as the crust. Nearer the holidays, I think a version with dried cranberries might be in the works.

I sent some downstairs to my neighbour for her birthday, then sent some more home with my mother. They were my companions for the tea-tasting and for dinner and I believe they had a great day, too.

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We certainly enjoyed the seemingly endless cups of tea we had at the Tea-Off. I’ve told you about Tea Sparrow before and the process they use to choose the teas that go into their monthly boxes.

This time, we sampled teas that ran from cocoa and chocolate notes to herbaceous tisanes. I enjoyed most of the teas presented, but I had some favourites:

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The last one surprised me, because it doesn’t fit my usual tea preferences, but the flavours were beautifully balanced.

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There’s an endless amount of learning in the world of tea. Even though I’ve been drinking it since adolescence, I feel I’m still a novice in many ways. Visiting the Tea and Coffee Show helped and I’m looking forward to learning more at the Vancouver Tea Festival in November.

But, in some ways, I’ve learned most from those for whom tea has become a passion. At the tea-tasting at Tea Sparrow last week, I picked up a lot of interesting information, including these tidbits:

  • Some big tea companies pre-stale their tea before it hits the shelves to ensure a uniform flavour.
  • There are no real standards for tea, so companies like Tea Sparrow have to do a lot of their own research and testing to determine which teas are free from additives and artificial ingredients.
  • The growing popularity of premium teas is prompting larger tea vendors and corporations to cater to this market, making more clean, quality teas available to everyone.

The next step will be nurturing a tea-serving culture that has the standards of coffee barista service – no more lukewarm brewing or 1/2 cup portions of tea leaves in a cup, please!

I came home with a package of Vanilla Honeybush tea, which I happily enjoyed with my remaining apple pielettes. Since I gave so many away, I think I’m justified in making another batch this weekend, don’t you?

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: Apple Pielets.

Tea-Tasting at Tea Sparrow

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Rainy afternoons and tea-drinking go hand-in-hand, or at least they do in my world. Well, in my world, tea is a suitable accompaniment for any time of day or type of weather, so let’s just say that rain, afternoon, and tea make a classic combination.

This drizzly afternoon, I was drinking tea at Tea Sparrow headquarters, taking part in one of their famous tea-tastings. I’ve told you before how lucky Vancouverites are to have a say in which teas go into Tea Sparrow’s monthly boxes. This time, I was one of the lucky few who got to sip and rate Tea Sparrow’s newest discoveries.

In anticipation of their Second Annual Tea-Off next week, Tea Sparrow invited a few bloggers, podcasters, and recipe developers over to experience one of their tea-tastings.

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We rated six teas and two of them were favourites for me, personally – a dreamy Jasmine and a pure Ceylon cinnamon tea. Two others came close – a light, refreshing herbal mix by the Austrian company, Sonnentor, and a masala chai that was fragrant and flavourful.

And as a bonus, we were treated to Michael Menashy’s enthusiasm and expertise while we sampled our tea. When I share some photos of next week’s Tea-Off with you, I’ll also share some of the things I learned today.

Tea Sparrow’s Second Annual Tea-Off is next Sunday, October 25th, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Heritage Hall on Main Street. Tickets are 2 for $10 in advance and $10 per person at the door.

However, I’ve got two tickets to give away, so one of you can go for free and take a friend. If you’re going to be in Vancouver on Sunday, leave a comment on this post (with a contact email) and tell me about your favourite tea. The first person to do so is the winner!

It’s your chance to get in on the tasting and adjudication that helps to make Tea Sparrow’s monthly boxes so special.

Some Bright Ideas

  

Here’s what I’ve got coming up for you next week on the blog:

Meinhardt Fine Foods has opened a downtown location. I’ll tell you all about it, and their opening party, on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, barring any technical glitches, I’ll have another interview up in the G-W Portraits series.

On Friday, I’ll be sharing a recipe and describing the event that had me hauling out my copy of the Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

Here’s what I’ve got coming up, offline, this weekend:

A visit to Knit City, to ogle the wares of dozens of yarn and equipment purveyors. (Have I mentioned that my yarn diet is almost as fragile as my tea diet?)

I’ll also be attending the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show. I’ll be checking out their Tea Lounge and Tradeshow, while keeping tabs on the progress of the Canadian Barista and Latte Arts championships.

It’s also Doors Open Vancouver this weekend. If I have time, I might take the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at one of the City’s civic facilities. It’s a great way to get a new perspective on the architecture, infrastructure, and function of our City’s landmarks.

As always, I’d love to hear what you’re up to, online and off, this week.

Tea Sparrow – A Review

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Tea Sparrow sent me their July subscription box of tea, so that I might review their service, but no other consideration was received. All opinions are my own.

As you might recall, last month I visited the Tea Sparrow Iced Tea Festival. Afterward, they were kind enough to send me their July selection of teas for my review.

Each month, Tea Sparrow sends their subscribers four teas, chosen from producers around the world. They choose their loose leaf teas based on quality and flavour, in order to give their customers a survey of the best teas worldwide. The teas are first selected by their tea sommelier, then presented at tea tastings for subscribers and tea experts in Vancouver. The highest rated teas at each tasting are the ones that make it into Tea Sparrow’s monthly boxes. Each tea package includes a description of the tea, steeping instructions, and the URL of the producer – so, when you find a tea you especially like, you can order more, directly from the source.

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In the summer months, Tea Sparrow sends out teas that are especially good iced. It’s a nice practice and July’s mix included some teas that are good hot or cold. I was very happy to have the opportunity to try a summer box, because Vancouver’s been enduring hot, dry weather for months now. I usually drink tea hot, year-round, but this summer has been my own personal iced tea festival.

In July, their picks were Vanilla Honeybush from Aromatica Fine Teas; Iced Ginger Peach Tea from The Tea Spot; Quince Green from Silver Service; and Strawberry Mint from Herbal Republic.

I tried each of the teas hot and cold, taking advantage of the very few grey days we’ve had recently to have some hot tea. Three of the four teas are on my list for re-stocking my tea cupboard (when I finally drink it down to a manageable level). The other wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t get it again.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who read my post about the Iced Tea Festival that my favourite of the four was Herbal Republic’s Strawberry Mint. This tea is superb either hot or cold and is incredibly fragrant. My second favourite was Aromatica’s Vanilla Honeybush. It’s delicious cold, but I’m saving it for cooler weather, because I enjoyed it best when it was hot. A close third was Silver Service’s Quince Green. I know it’s meant to be served cold, but I thought it was quite good hot, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t care as much for the Ginger Peach Tea from the Tea Spot. Perhaps if I sweetened my tea a little, I would have enjoyed it more. (I’m not a fan of American-style iced tea and the Ginger Peach is perfect for sweet tea. If that style of iced tea is your thing, I suspect you’d love it.)

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Still, three out of four is quite a good score for a sampler selection. Based on this sampler and the teas I tasted at the festival, I think it’s quite likely that I’d enjoy four out of four teas most months, a dangerous proposition for a tea lover who has a year’s subscription. I’d run the risk of having a tea kitchen, rather than a tea cupboard.

Tea Sparrow’s boxes are $20.00 USD/$25.00 CAD per month, including shipping and taxes, for US and Canadian orders. International orders are $30.00 CAD, plus shipping. The quantity of tea averages to about 35 cups per month. You can get loose tea more cheaply from a tea shop, but for a sampler of teas from various producers around the world, Tea Sparrow provides good value.

If you’re a tea beginner, I’d recommend finding a good tea shop or two in your area (hint: not a national chain) and exploring what they have to offer. Once you’ve developed your palate, then you can move on to Tea Sparrow’s service. Your local merchant will have developed offerings that fit into the taste profile of their brand. The advantage of a sampler service is that you can try teas that represent a wide variety of taste profiles, finding new favourites (and developing a tea mail order habit).

I also think a six or twelve month subscription would make a wonderful present for a tea lover. (I may or may not be hoping that friends and family are paying particular attention to this paragraph.) If you’re a subscriber who happens to live in the Metro Vancouver area, you can also vie for tickets to their tea tastings, which happen every other month.

As habits go, a monthly tea subscription is both healthy and pleasurable. And honestly, the idea of a tea kitchen isn’t such a bad one, really. You can just keep everything else in the pantry, right?

You can order a Tea Sparrow subscription for yourself or a gift for a friend at their website: Tea Sparrow

Cold Teas to Soothe the Soul at Tea Sparrow’s 1st Annual Iced Tea Festival

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I attended the Tea Sparrow Iced Tea Festival as a media guest, but had no obligation to review or write about any aspect of the event. All opinions are my own.

Growing up, I thought I didn’t like iced tea. But really, it was American-style sweet tea that wasn’t my thing. When I became a tea drinker, in my adolescence, my mother insisted that I take it clear – no sugar, no milk. I found I loved it that way. I’d lost the taste for pop around ten or eleven and tea was the perfect replacement. I loved its astringency and malty undertones. And I soon became convinced that I only liked it hot.

I kept on feeling that way until my mid-twenties, when a friend made me some barely sweetened sun tea. I’ve had some good versions since, most memorably a batch made with a rich, organic Earl Grey, honey, and mint from a friend’s garden. Still, I never sought it out or felt inclined to make it myself.

It wasn’t until I started exploring premium loose teas that I truly started to enjoy iced tea. It’s no surprise that it’s the teas that don’t need any sweetening at all that won me over. Not all teas benefit from being served cold, but the ones that do make a perfect relief from the heat.

Coconut Oolong

In Vancouver’s seemingly never-ending heatwave this summer, an invitation to an Iced Tea Festival was a welcome distraction. The festival was hosted by Tea Sparrow, which curates monthly selections of teas from around the world, for tea drinkers worldwide. They focus on quality and taste in their tea selections, avoiding artificial ingredients.

I’d only just heard of Tea Sparrow recently, so I took the opportunity to talk to one of the co-founders of the company, Michael Menashy, at the festival. Tea Sparrow started as an industry curation company in 2010, then expanded to shipping tea boxes directly to customers in January of 2012. Though the company has a world focus, their base is Vancouver, which makes their local customers a surprisingly big part of their tea selection process. They hold tea tastings every second month, rating the teas that are contenders for the next few months’ tea boxes. It’s a very hot ticket, since only twelve people can attend – Michael told me the Eventbrite listing is filled up within hours of posting.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of disappointed tea tasters each round. So, to give more of them a chance to get in on the action, Tea Sparrow holds occasional events that cater to a larger crowd. This year’s Iced Tea Festival was the first of what they hope will be an annual event and they had crowds of tea lovers lined up, until well into the afternoon, eager to try the fifteen teas they had on offer.

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I showed up around three, when the line up had eased, and was happy to get out of the muggy heat into Heritage Hall’s airy auditorium. I was armed with a tasting cup and invited to try the teas as many times as I liked. The teas were cold, but not so cold that the taste was dampened, and I appreciated being able to taste them without the distraction of any added sweetener.

Several stood out for me, including Samovar Tea Lounge‘s Pineapple Coconut Oolong, Sonnentor‘s Organic Peppermint, and Tea Desire‘s Maracuja Orange. There was a clear winner for me that day, though – Herbal Republic‘s Strawberry Mint. It had a deep strawberry flavour complemented with mint, which Herbal Republic’s Tracy McDowell told me took a lot of trial and error to get right. Strawberry is one of the hardest flavours to capture in tea and many companies rely on artificial extracts. Not so for Herbal Republic – they dry strawberries carefully and infuse their tea with natural flavours.

Strawberry Mint

I’m supposed to be on a new-tea-moratorium (until the tea cupboard is less stuffed), but I may have to break that fast and order some Strawberry Mint. We’re having a short respite from the heat this weekend, but the rest of the summer is scheduled to be hot and dry – that means iced tea weather until well into the fall. That’s enough of an excuse…right?

Even if I don’t start adding to my tea collection again immediately, I’m feeling inspired to cold brew some of the teas I have at home, finding out which ones work iced as nicely as the ones I tasted last weekend. I’m also going to be keeping an eye on Tea Sparrow’s website. I’d love to go to another tea tasting event in the fall or winter – fifteen hot teas to try on a cold, damp Vancouver afternoon sounds right up my alley.

Kerrisdale

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I’m an Eastside girl, so my forays west of Main aren’t frequent, but this past Saturday, I made the the trek out to Kerrisdale for A Very Special Occasion, which I’ll share with you soon. Kerrisdale is a generally affluent neighbourhood, with something of a reputation for being staid and British, though that’s not as true as it once was. One of the holdovers of that reputation is the Secret Garden Tea Company, which is a favourite of mine. A bag of their signature tea or Creamy Earl Grey doesn’t last very long in my kitchen.

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West 41st is the main shopping street, with a mixture of mid-to-high-end chain stores and independent businesses. Some of the highlights include Benton Brothers Fine Cheese, which could give les amis du FROMAGE a run for its money, the macarons at Faubourg, and the excellent espresso at Caffè Artigiano. If you want to explore a little more, there’s a full listing of shops and services at Kerrisdale Village.

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The way that neighbourhoods have developed in Vancouver, for the most part, is that there’s a similar range of independent shops in each, with the balance reflecting the character of the neighbourhood. So, Kerrisdale has Moore’s Bakery and The Drive has Fratelli, each of which offer beautiful bread and pastries. But, the Secret Garden has Kerrisdale written all over it, while Storm Crow Tavern couldn’t really be anywhere else but Commercial Drive. It makes for fun explorations and comparisons across the city.

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I think on my next foray west, I want to do an Eastside/Westside photo essay. The manicured gardens of Kerrisdale versus the front yard veggie explosions in Hastings-Sunrise. As a for instance. I think I could get some interesting contrasts.