This newish teahouse opened up in Gastown this summer and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting there a couple of times to both have a light tea service there as well as purchasing tea to go.
The space is very modern, but warm, relaxed and inviting at the same time. Unlike some other tea places in Vancouver, I feel if I brought a well-behaved child (indeed each time I’ve been there there’s been a child or two) they wouldn’t be out of place. I’ve enjoyed both hot and iced teas and all have been very good. My only (minor) complaint is that I’m not sure where they source their tea or if they’re all house blends, so I’m docking a star for that (and I’ve asked).
My husband and I usually split their Cream Tea Service, which is four small scones with the usual accompaniments (I was impressed that they whip their butter – so many places just give you hard pats of butter with your scones). It’s a great snackish option with which to enjoy your tea (they’re very delicious) and they also carry a small selection of bars and pastries. They’re now expanding their pastry menu, so I’m sure there will be much more to enjoy in the future.
They use BrewT brewers to brew their tea and after being impressed with the ease of use, I ended up buying one for my home use as one can never have too many ways of brewing tea. The service is always really friendly and even though I had a small hiccup with an overcharge once, the management stepped in and went above and beyond. Overall, I’ve had a great experience visiting here and will continue to do so on a regular basis. A great addition to the Gastown experience.
Ah, the Urban Tea Merchant, where my high quality tea education began. It seems as though over the years they’ve changed their focus a couple of times – when we first started going there, the focus seemed to be mostly unflavored high quality teas and tea blends. I remember having a a couple of first flush darjeelings that were absolutely delicious as well as a couple of blends that were recommended and lovely as well.
Then they seemed to change their focus to more flavored teas, much to my dismay (though I do love flavored teas as well). The main “house” brand was THE O DOR, which while very high quality, is very focused on more flavored teas. Now it seems as though they’ll be focusing on TWG teas as their main brand and it looks like they’re going back to a focus of both flavored and unflavored teas.
The quality of the teas that they carry is always very high and the Afternoon Tea Service (we’ve had both the regular and a special Valentine’s Day menu) was delicious. The service has always been very helpful and knowledgeable, but they do tend to hover a bit, which I find slightly annoying. As far as pricing goes, it’s a very expensive place – High Tea will set you back quite a bit, but for a special occasion it’s almost worth it as the food, service and ambiance make it a wonderful treat. I find their loose leaf teas are market-priced (especially if you buy without the TWG tin) and their macarons are very delicious, but almost $4 a piece. Their to-go tea menu is reasonable and encompasses a variety of what they carry loose. Overall, we visit here quite a bit and do enjoy coming here, though we often leave with much lighter wallets.