In 2014, Canadians drank an average of 8.3 cups of tea a week, according to the Tea Association of Canada. It’s not a surprise; the health benefits associated with drinking tea have been written about for years. Beyond the bonuses of drinking all those antioxidants, Canadians just love a good cuppa. Luckily for Torontonians, the city hosts hundreds of places to purchase and drink tea. Here is your insider’s guide to tea in Toronto.
Afternoon tea is a centuries-old English tradition enjoyed by the wealthy, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying an afternoon of eating finger sandwiches and drinking tea. The city boasts multiple afternoon tea experiences for everyone. Treat yourself to afternoon tea at the Shangri-la or Gatsby Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton’s DEQ Lounge. If you have more of a sweet tooth, MoRoCo Chocolat in Yorkville or The Fairmont Royal York’s Library Bar will fulfill your needs. However, if you want an authentic experience venture to Historic Old Mill, The OMNI King Edward Hotel, t-buds, or the Windsor Arms. Timings vary at every location. Make sure to book a reservation; afternoon tea is a popular social event.
Although pre-bagged tea is the most popular choice for tea drinkers, loose leaf tea provides a wider range of aromas and flavors. There are many independent stores in the city that are flourishing despite the growth of chain-tea retailers. With a wide selection of tea varietals, it is worth the trip. Jasmine Dragon Tears Green Tea is a must-buy at Moonbeam in Kensington Market. If you find yourself midtown, tea experts at both House of Tea and Tao Tea Leaf will help find the right tea for you. Queen West’s Tealish has some of the nicest dessert teas in the city but if you’re on Queen East, stop by Pippins Tea Company for their signature fruit blends. Don’t forget that you will have to purchase specific teaware such as a strainer and a tea tray to properly enjoy your tea purchase.
Toronto is home to several unique tea brands. Luckily for the tea lover, these brands are easily accessible online as well as in store. Tea Sommelier Jennifer Commins uses local ingredients to define her Pluck Teas brand. Her teas can be found at McEwan and Indigo. Sloane Tea is a premium tea company created by trained perfumer and tea sommelier, Hoda Paripoush. The signature blends are some of the best teas available, and they can be purchased at multiple locations around the city.
Tea is the most popular drink in the world; it’s no surprise that you can grab a cup virtually anywhere. Commercial tea chains like DAVIDsTEA and Teavana are good for fun and festive flavors. Both chains can be found in many neighborhoods in the city. Among the many independent cafes, there are plenty of places to sit down and grab a cup of tea with friends. Toronto coffee shop chains like Balzacs and Jimmy’s Coffee serve both tea and coffee, while offering a warm environment to catch up with friends. For tea purists, all loose-leaf tea retailers have tea to go. Furthermore, the rising popularity of tea lattes is also apparent in the city. Some of the best tea lattes can be found in the city’s King East neighborhood. Try the signature London Fog at Neo Coffee Bar or the chai latte at ODIN. Both are worth the trip.