Today I was in Chinatown, visiting one of its staple tea shops for the Vancouver Foodster ice tea challenge. I was one of 3 judges tasked to visit all competitors and score their offering by tastes, originality, and presentation. “Treasure Green Tea Company” has been open and operating since 1981. They are a family run shop that has been pass down from one generation to the next, with the one location move and a name change in between. All to become what we have here today.
Just walking in you know they mean business when it comes to tea. There is a bamboo platter with leaves drying by the door. The shop itself is wall to wall shelves housing dried leaves in tins and porcelain paraphernalia to serve them in.
The brand and make of all the teas that they carry is specifically sourced by them, through independent farmers. There is no middle men, thus ensuring the quality of all the fine teas that they carry. This is a list that spans several pages. Each category it’s own laminated page listing over 35 varieties to choose from. And they have gone so far as to make notes of the tea’s flavour and body under each name, to help narrow down your choice. Bold and fruity, aromatic and smooth, rich with cocoa notes, or subtle and sweet? All possible combinations and then some, between black, dark (including puer), oolong, yellow, green, and white teas.
If all these options still has your head spinning, I suggesting speaking with the charismatic shop owner, she knows her way around a pot and is not shy about showcasing this knowledge. Through a series of questions she will find the perfect brew for your drinking needs. Even what you like to eat is considered, all to help narrow down options and identify your palette. Eg: I like strong tea, but what is strong to you may not necessarily be strong to me. Something to aid in digestion, a blend to help clear your complexion, or maybe a tea high in caffeine to replace your regular cup of coffee?
During my visit she took the time to tour me through some of her favourite blends. The “Treasure greens emerald silver” green tea was one of their best sellers and exclusive to them.
The “Gu shu yunnan” is a black tea with larger leaves procured from ancient trees. The result, larger dried leaves, hand picked and handled with care to ensure the uniform golden tips stayed in tack for a most aromatic beverage.
For any tea enthusiasts, they have so many unique blends worth trying, therefore the best way to filter through them all is signing up for their $20 tea tasting. This is an experience that is catered to what your are looking for. Your experience with Chinese tea is considered, as well as what your tastes are, and what is in season. All this is done in house behind their tea bar, with a tour of the origins of the teas you will be drinking, done utilizing a map. For a more adult theme they also host private functions where they will shake up tea martins featuring their authentic premium teas.
Today, their ice tea challenge contender was one of their premium ice teas shaken with ice and mixed to mimic your favourite cocktails, without the alcohol. If you wanted, you had the option of adding to it bubble tea pearls. Here they sourced artisan pearls, tapioca of higher quality, to best pair with their fine tea blends.
The “Champagne jasmine” was up for voting, it was a more literal ice tea contender. It featured jasmine tea, grapefruit, and honey. Everything is mixed in a martini shaker, giving the beverage a foamy top and an airy essence, similar to the fizz of champagne. I won’t be going into any more detail of the drink here, as the competition is still running. Instead, I will invite you to visit my blog after August 5th to see how I judged this and all the other ice tea creations.
But I did get to try all the other premium ice tea cocktails, so will be reviewing them below. These are all mixed in martini shaker over ice, then poured into tiny porcelain cups for tasting. You are able to sample each one, then purchase the flavour you want to commit to a full serving of, in a plastic cup.
The “Organic white mojito” featured organic white tea, lemon, mint, and honey. It tasted very much so like a mojito, with the mint being so forward. It was then brightened with the citrus tang of the lemon. A great drink to help you cool down with.
The “Organic oolong with orange” was the strongest iced tea made with organic oolong tea, orange peel, and honey. The dark roast of the oolong was slightly bitter, a bold brew, giving you that kick a black cup of coffee would; meaning that this would make a great alternative to a cup of joe.
The “Green dragon” was their newest premium iced tea. It highlighted their signature green tea and flavoured it with longan fruit and goji berry, then sweetened with honey. This was the most refreshing drink out of the three with the logan being the flavour that stood out the most.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is a great place to learn a lot more about Chinese herbal teas and all the health benefits they have. And in house they have come up with some pretty creative ways to get customers into their shop, offering more than just dried leaves. Here you get an experience and a lesson on culture through a cooling cup. Don’t deny your cravings.