Toronto, ON M4N 2M6
Baristas beware: coffee lovers may soon be renouncing their espressos for Toronto’s newest trend, tea. Steeped in years of tradition, tea culture is taking over the city, and rightly so, says Andrew Marrone, a tea sommelier (yes, that’s a real title) at the newly-opened t-buds. “The thing with our teas is that a lot of them are single estate, premium teas, and you can get a lot more nuances out of tea than you can with coffee,” he says. “We’re trying to get a complete tea experience.”
The concept: Slick, modern decor with a soothing Zen ambience creates the backdrop for a unique tea experience. In addition to a tea bar at the front, the lounge also houses a small kitchen that provides sandwiches, wraps, crepes and more, all with suggested tea pairings. An upstairs lounge houses tea blending events, tasting events and afternoon teas ($26 - $48), and with its plush chairs and palm fronds, any tea enthusiast could feel as though they’d been whisked away to a tropical estate. All teas can be served hot or cold in-store, or bought loose leaf to enjoy at home. Most notably, t-buds’ other in-house sommelier, Judy Lin, conducts a traditional Chinese gong-fu tea ceremony for anyone who wants to take part.
The hood: Yonge Lawrence Village, just north of Lawrence.
The tea: Over 75 different teas — like black, white, herbal, green, rooibos or oolong — can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. The herbal tulsi ($4.50/50g) has a lightly refreshing basil note and boasts antioxidant properties. For those still harbouring a coffee fixation, all teas come in tea latte form; a black tea latte is $3.50, and the matcha green tea latte is $4.50. The t-buds kitchen menu is designed to pair perfectly with the in-house teas. Sweet or savoury crepes ($4.90 - $13.50) each have a 16oz sommelier-recommended tea pairing to complement the meal ($2 extra for a pot for two).
Sommelier’s selection: “My favourite blend? Well, that’s like picking a favourite child for me,” says Marrone. But, when pressed, he settles on the honey orchid oolong, directly sourced from China. ($7/30g). Marrone recommends pairing this lightly flowered and subtly-sweet blend with any of t-buds' pastries or petit-fours.
Published on: May 27, 2011