This is a very small shop at the start of Oak Bay, though not quite in the main part of “the village” section. The primary focus here is, if you couldn’t tell from the name, matcha. There is a tea bar where you can get several matcha creations, with varying grades/qualities of matcha, along with a fairly large selection of matcha for purchase and tools and utensils for making it. There is also pottery, made locally, for sale in the form of bowls and cups. Very nice. There is also local food made by one of the staff, so they really do try to pull in local stuff from the community. Interestingly, they have lots of matcha foods there, including yummy candies.
Kip, one of the owners, is incredibly helpful and friendly, and he will do demos in store or pretty much whatever you want in terms of learning to work with matcha better. I have not been with the other staff that much, but the few times I have, they have always been kind and helpful. They have a nice facebook page, with periodic contests, so that is super nice for keeping connected. There is, as of the last time I was in, a loyalty card program, which is awesome for a free drink. Considering how new the place is, I think it is doing pretty well…it is far enough away from downtown where Jaga Silk is in terms of competition, though while they are both matcha bars, there is not that much overlap, and the two places are not the same. I also think they play off of each other well.
I would say that you should definitely check them out if you are heading to the “Tweed Curtain” anytime.
This is the place to go to for matcha in a variety of grades and preparations as well. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable as well. There is a small amount of local made food, and there is coffee from The Fernwood Coffee company but this place is primarily for matcha.
I don’t know if I can legitimately review this shop as I haven’t actually tasted their teas. I do want to step up and say that this is not the same company that went under and got bought by Teavana; this is a local store, and I gather that shops can have the same name in different countries.
I have a fairly full tea shelf right now, and practically no money since we just got a new ipad(!) but I wanted to pop in and see what they had. The salesperson there was fairly knowledgeable, though almost to the point of being annoying in that “I know more than you and all the things you are saying are wrong because I obviously know more than you since I work in a tea shop” way. And the salesperson talked down on the other chains in town, basically talking about tea from China, and this and that, and straight teas are better and these other places have lots of blends and not much straight tea…but, the really funny thing is, this shop had LOADS of blends, and a CRAPLOAD of rooibos too. I’m not sure if the salesperson was just bitter at the chain competition in town whereas this shop is a mom and pop shop. And I get that. I get that there is a lot of care put into the blends, and that some are very old and/or unique to the shop. I like that. But I don’t like the negativity toward the other shops. I like tea…I don’t discriminate where I get it, so long as I like it. I think that if you are going to compare yourself, you should focus on the positives, and not let the negatives be your mode for sales. All the stores in town have different things to offer, whether the business is a local one or not, and generally, the salespeople like what they are doing and selling, and are tea enthusiasts regardless of where you go. Focus on your strengths, not someone else’s weaknesses. So, will I go back? Maybe. I do like supporting local businesses, and I like tea. My biggest concern is that you cannot buy less than 50g, and there are no returns available. I suppose I’d have to try something very basic and straightforward as an initial tea, and go from there.
I admit I tend to get coffee when I am at Murchies, along with some yummy baked goods, which they excel at. You could probably put together a cheap, but yummy tea service, far cheaper than the Empress, though the Empress is an experience for tea. I have only been in the back section where it is more store than cafe, but it has been a while, but I seem to recall a decent selection of the basics. It is a very English style place if memory serves me. I think I ought to go in and check the back again soon.
While I don’t like the selection of teas here as much as at DAVIDsTEA, they do have some really nice blends, though I think a little more traditional. They are trying though. One bonus here though, is that they have a larger selection of teaware and accessories. I find that the employees here are always pretty helpful, and they know me, as I work in the mall and come here frequently for tea on the go. I have to say that I find the stark contrast in decor and atmosphere between Teaopia and DAVIDsTEA quite amusing…Teaopia is dark and cozy (intimate even?) more akin to Starbucks or Serious Coffee while DAVIDsTEA is bright and airy and open more like BLENZ. Though this location is on a corner, and near a door, so it is a wee bit brighter.
This is the first DAVIDsTEA I went to, and I was immediately impressed with the selection and knowledgeable employees. I told them of some teas I liked already, and they were able to suggest teas I might like based on that. I would not have had any interest in Toasted Walnut had it not been for the SA at the time tell me that people that like Genmai Cha generally like Toasted Walnut too. I can go in and say, “I’m looking for something with ginger in it, or chocolate, or whatever ingredient” and they pull down multiple canisters til I find what I want. Sometimes I go in with a particular mood, and they help me narrow down what I am looking for. Very helpful people, here and downtown too. Looking forward to the Uptown location opening up too.
I like that Silk Road is local, and I’m supporting my local community, but I admit that I still prefer DAVIDsTEA to all the tea places I have near me. Of the few teas from them I have had, they have been of good quality and average pricing, and I like the decor and feel of the store. I’m such a DAVIDsTEA groupie that I hardly ever get past them on Government to get to Silk Road, but I should pop in sometime and try something new.
Well, I will agree with Maddhatter that Teaopia tends to be a little more like Starbucks in the dark aspect, and I think clientele. To a degree, I am ok with this, as the decor is kinda warm and snuggly, and it seems like there ought to be a fireplace to sit by and read your book with your mug of hot tea. Though there is no fireplace. And the tea is average compared to some places in town, in terms of blends and originality. There are some nice blends though. It’s sorta like sushi…I don’t mind good traditional stuff, but I really dig experimental and fusion stuff too. I think Teaopia is trying to appeal to the coffee drinking Starbucks crowd more than some of the other places. This location seems to be quieter than the Mayfair one on the times I have gone in. I can’t say I had bad service there, but I will say that the ladies at Mayfair are friendlier I think. It could just be that I am at Mayfair more because of my job and they all know me there.
If given choice, downtown, I’ll go the extra few blocks up Government to DAVIDsTEA instead. I can’t quite pin my finger down on exactly why I prefer DAVIDsTEA, but I just like the environment and selection better. That said, if DAVIDsTEA didn’t exist, I’d be fine with Teaopia. I do have some teas from them that I do quite like. :)