Slowing time down with pinkies up. Enjoying rose petals, doilies, and silver spoons. Getting off work at 3pm and being too early for dinner means you get to enjoy high tea. There is something whimsical about dining in a space that is an over the top girly, meant to make you feel like a princess.
The shoppe was themed in a vintage pretty. And made to feel like you are walking into a doll house or the home of your peculiar great aunt. The space is lined wall to wall with a floral wallpaper, printed in pink pedals and green leaves. A large pale green shelf lines the wall. It is home to over 80 or so varieties of loose leaf teas. A few of the more popular requests get individually bagged up for an easy take home-ability. On this shelf is also an offering of what looks to be two different varieties of lip balms. A glass and mirrored cabinet safety displays ornately decorated teacups and saucers. They are a similar style to the one on display in the showcases, above the serving counter. It was here, behind this counter that the employees gathered behind. Their hands blocked, their faces staring ahead. It looked peculiar. They worked to prep food and package teas.The walls were hung with framed photos and shadow boxed pieces of art. Oil canvases of green countryside framed in a gold foiled frames. Chinese paint brush characters stroked on to a scroll. And carving of wild beasts done in gold and a maze of patterns done in iron. It was a lot of North American vintage mixed with Asian cultural artifacts. To finish this off miniature chandeliers hung from the ceiling, dainty. Tables were done in wood, glass or clothed in a yellow linen. Like the tables, the chairs were a grab bag of variety. Missed, yet matched.
On this Tuesday afternoon it wasn’t busy, which made our reservations moot. We only one of the 5 mandarin groups that took seats for tea. I commented that everyone here was all Asians. My guest who chose the place said, “it’s Kerrisdale, what do you expect?” And after looking at the menu I had realized why. At the very bottom it was pointed out that all their teas that had stars in the corner for their names, indicated they were brews that helped in the anti aging process. Something prized by many Asians. Maybe that is why we look so young for so long?
I felt a little better to not be the only one taking all these pictures. A little eight year old girl, with a phone a lot better than mine, was also snapping pictures of the decor and food. Probably for her various social media friends. In retrospect, not better, I felt more embarrassed.
The tea menu was an impressive double pager. Laminated and categorized by variety. Fruit melange, rooibos, white, black, green, Japanese, herb and spice tea. There were so many different combinations, so many different ingredients; how could you wade through it all? Seeds, fruits, flowers, and nuts. After giving up on reading through it all, I asked our server what would be their weirdest and most unique tea available. So for the sake of trying something new, I had to go for the tea made with curry powder. She described it as a chai tea, thanks to its notes of spiciness. “The surprise”. Black tea and fruit blended with cool, sweet, and spicy tastes. Black tea, pineapple, apple, peppermint, curry powder, and pink pepper. With the first sip it reminded me of Chinese medicine. A dark coloured liquid strained from the boiling of a variety of spices and roots, given to children for various ailments. The tea grows on you and is not the least bit offensive, as one may think. The curry is definitely the most dominate flavour note. I found it actually complimented the savoury portion of our food selection.
The teas are served in glass pots with a built in strainer. They are placed on a riser suspended over a lit tea light. This ensures your tea remains the perfect drinking temperate. We sat for
over two hours and each pour was accompanied by spirals of smoke from the pot’s spout. I prefer this style over the tea pot cozy. Not only did this version look better, but it also stayed heated for longer. I also appreciate being able to see the colour of my beverages through my vessel.
The tea cups provided were “Royal Alberts” one of the better know high end tea ware producers in England. You could tell these cups stood the test of time and saw much love. Their gold trim rims were worn, with what were prints of the many lips before you taking a sip. Eerie.
My guest wanted the “Red grape extract”, a flavoured rooibos with a taste of red heap. However they were unable to open the bottle, and ask that we make another selection. My guest knew exactly what her second choice would be, and repeated it several times before one of the servers walked away. Eventually the same server did come to ask what we had wanted. Guess she missed hearing us call out “paradise” a few times. “Exotic paradise”. A flavoured passion fruit white tea with blossoms. White tea, coconut, rose petals, sunflower petals, and marigold petals. This was fragrant and made you wish it tasted as sweet as it smelled. But alas you were disappointed with the first sip. This is definitely one of those teas that require milk and sugar to even out. It had a bitter after taste and continued to have it, even after the addition of more water. Milk and sugar were definitely needed. Though unfortunately, even after asking both servers for a set, we waited forever for nothing to come. I only got up to ask for it when one of the servers walked out of the shoppe with her jacket and bag. The brown sugar came in a coarse gravel-like size. I was harder to melt with its more solid, yet unique shape. The sugar was not overly sweet and tasted good enough to have as a mouthful on its own. I tried. Another tea that percolated my interest was the “Latte Macchiato”, a black tea flavoured with the taste of coffee. As unique this was, I thought why not just get coffee…
Slip over how hungry we really were we ordered both the “Afternoon Tea” and “Mini Afternoon Tea”. Both are an assortment of homemade sweets and savouries; including finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones. Served with your choice of tea. The difference between the two was the allotment and a $10 difference in pricing. They combined both servings onto the one serving rack. The following is a list of what we had as described from what I tasted. Savoury to sweet, like how we ate it all. The food tasted as I described it, by its simple ingredients. It was just as is. Good, not great. But then again you weren’t here for the food and definitely weren’t paying for it.
Bottom tier: Ham and mayo finger sandwich. Cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwich. Egg salad, lettuce, and cucumber mini bun. Chicken, apple, and lettuce on a croissant.
Middle tier: Smoke salmon, cream cheese, and rosemary; on a poppy and sunflower seed whole wheat loaf. Salmon and spinach egg quiche. Shrimp topped potato salad.
Top tier: Raspberry and blueberry mini cupcake with whipped cream. Fruit tarts. Chocolate brownie with gold leaf flakes. Chocolate Cake. The chocolate cake was too sweet with chocolate frosting on chocolate cake.
Side plate: Cheese and cranberry scone served with a side of cream and jam. We both found the cranberry scone too sweet. You did not need the addition of jam. I did like the extra sugar on the top that gave the scone a crunch. The cheese scone had a great flaky texture. Strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla mousse. The Neapolitan cream tasted as artificial as it look.
Side note, it is such a shame that tea is a diuretic. I ended up using the washroom five times during my two hour stay, after consuming two pots of curry tea.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
I come for the ambience. Places like this make you feel fancy. You wouldn’t want your home styled in this decor, but once in a while you enjoy being immersed in it all. So much so that you are willing to pay a higher price for the mediocre food. I have never really had great food at any tea service. I go to a place like this for girl talk. Me and my girlfriend hunkering down for hours catching up, and inevitably our conversation is steered towards boys and sex. It’s almost as if the place brings it out, tapping into our girly sides to do so. But of course men can enjoy places like these too. So don’t deny your cravings fellas and ladies.