BY Leslie Javorski
A TEA THAT COSTS $2500 FOR 100 GRAMS (3.5OZ)?
Not exactly a mug of hot water with a bag on a string. Though the two might seem worlds apart, great love for tea is not.
It’s that love that brings people into the TWG Tea Salon & Boutique in Vancouver, B.C., where tea isn’t just a satisfying drink but an experience. Not all their teas are expensive, but they are always luxurious.
You’ll step into a stylish room devoted to the second most popular drink in the world― surpassed only by water. Butteryellow canisters line the floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves holding more than 500 single-harvest teas and blends. It’s hard to choose, so let your mood guide you―perhaps it calls for an Ivory Orchid Oolong or maybe a Chocolate Earl Grey. The names alone will send your imagination on an exotic voyage, and that’s before you breathe in the sublime scent from an open canister.
Tea talk is like wine talk―single estates and blends, terroirs and product quality. There are ten kinds of tea in the world―black, green, white, yellow, blue, red, matured, tea flowers, compressed tea and blends―yet all tea comes from the same evergreen plant, the Camellia sinensis.
Two of the main things that determine tea quality are where the tea is grown and the way the leaves are treated. The younger the leaves, the more exquisite the flavor. But it could
also be the way they are picked (no bruising!) and dried. Or it might be the way they are transported. This kind of care is the work of artisans, and TWG Tea cultivates them. Some are on faraway mountaintops and in hidden hills, secret places you’d have to know about.
Tea culture is long-established in Asian countries, but, here, it is relatively new. TWG Tea co-founders Maranda Barnes and Taha Bouqdib opened their first shop in Singapore in 2008. Now they are in sixteen countries, though Vancouver is home to their first (and, so far only) North American salon. While it may be all about tea, it is not just about drinking it.
Naturally, TWG Tea serves an afternoon tea with scones and cream―and it does this to perfection. But tea as a flavor in food is the focus of their kitchen. Pastry Chef Philippe Langlois and Chef David Thien have created subtle pairings―dishes like Haida Gwaii
halibut with a clam sauce infused with Sencha Prestige, a Japanese green tea with seaweed notes, or the vanilla bourbon tea crêpes. The dining experience is sophisticated and unquestionably unique.
Take some tea home―if you can decide. TWG Tea has fifteen Earl Greys alone. There are six different smoky teas, not to mention the iced tea favorites. However you approach this salon, even if only for a reviving cuppa, you are in for a lush and restorative treat.
To visit TWG Tea Company while in Vancouver, go online at vansingdg.com, or just pop in at 1070 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C.