This past weekend was a fun, cool and busy one. Sunday, however, was the icing on cake for the family and I. After packing up the car with a few items of necessity - it was a chilly and damp afternoon - and a small serving of tea, we headed north of Toronto to a small town called Stouffville, which is located about 30 minutes north of Toronto. We were going to meet some friends for some apple picking and tea drinking. Well, in reverse order that is.
We arrived about 30 minutes before our friends so the family and I decided to unpack our tea equipment and leaves, and make a quick serving of tea to warm up our chilly bones before the 'big pick'. What I discovered after steeping the first of three steeps was that a stove (or other water heating device) is a must when making tea. (With that said, you can very easily brew up some GuiFei Honey Oolong tea and a variety of others through a cold-brew method. It takes about 6-8 hours to fully appreciate the taste, but it makes a fantastic summer refresher.) We filled up three medium-sized thermos' with boiling water at home, but by the time we arrived at Applewoods Farm & Winery the water had already chilled.
Still, the warm tea was a nice way to loosen up and warm up our cool frames before heading out to gather some delicious apples.
After a few hours of picking and some time in the playground, we were ready to head back to the city for a fun-filled family BBQ with all the fixings - including a couple of juicy and delicious apples!
If you would like to visit Applewoods, here is a link to their website. Just click and visit. Enjoy!
This past Saturday I ventured on the TTC down to Bloor & Yonge where my new tea guide, Rita, would be meeting me for an afternoon of tea and conversation at a local shop Tao Tea Leaf (www.taotealeaf.com). I arrived to find Rita, two of her friends, Katherine (who works at Tao) and Mr. Tao Wu waiting for me and waiting to get started on what would turn out to be a fun-filled (and first experience in a Toronto tea shop) 3 hours. Fun-filled it was!
After our initial meet and greet, I sat down to my first taste test for the afternoon. In fact, we only had time for two tastings as Mr. Wu was welcoming two groups from Buffalo, NY, who heard through word of mouth about his store and wide selection of high-quality and great tasting tea. (By the way, the two groups left with both hands full of tasty treats and notebooks full of valuable information!)
The first tea we dove into is called Green Pu'erh. This Pu'erh was harvested in 2007 and had a light, yet lovely taste to it. Unlike most Pu'erhs that I have tried, this one was very light in color - similar to a Dong Ding Oolong. This tea was grown in Yunnan Province, China, and can be found in LinCang located not far from where it was grown.
The second tea we tried is a 2010 Pu'erh which was grown in JingMai, which is also in Yunnan Prov., China. This Pu'erh looked and tasted very similar to the ones I have tried before - and enjoyed! And did I ever enjoy this wonderful, woody and aromatic tea. Delicious! This Pu'erh, as with many if not all, came from a very ancient tea tree which looks very similar to your average tree (which is in stark contrast to the standard tea bush which is usually shorter).
The day wouldn't be complete without a visit from a member of the Tea Association of Canada and instructor for the Certified Tea Sommellier online course (French version). I had many questions for Raymonde and she was more than delighted to answer them all for me. I better not hesitate for much longer - the Tea Sommelier course starts on September 16 and I have yet to enroll!
Well, our visit to Tao Tea Leaf was everything that I expected. Relaxing, warm and full of wonderful convesation with NEW friends! Thanks very much to Rita (for organizing this greet and meet), Mr. Tao Wu (for sharing his two types of Pu'erh), Katherine (for keeping the hot water flowing) and Raymonde (for answering my endless number of questions).
Now it's onto another location to make some new friends and try some new teas!
Tao Tea Leaf
Downtown Toronto Location:
934 Yonge Street
Tel: (647) 728-3858
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”