Uncertainty is one of the greatest challenges, and occasional joys, of life and this sense of uncertainty fluctuates for all of us. However, lately, there seems to be a collective feeling of uncertainty. Whether warranted or not, the inundation of news, from home and globally, has raised overall levels of uncertainty and unease. If ever there was a time for taking a deep breath and relaxing over a cup of tea (or coffee), it is now! With many people sticking closer to home for the time being, we wanted to share some of the products we’re proud to carry from all over the world. If you’ve chosen to postpone travel plans, we invite you to “taste without the travel” and enjoy our huge selection of teas and coffees.
We’ve organized this blog post by region, but as always, if you have specific questions, please feel free to stop by the shop or give us a call. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the Introduction to Tea sessions we’re now hosting regularly. This post is just a taster of all you can learn when you join us for a lesson on tea. Now sit back and let us take you on a mini world tour of tea and coffee!
Explore South America
A virtual trip to South America wouldn’t be complete without highlighting the amazing coffee culture, quality and selection from our three favourite coffee producers. We also carry a range of accessories for brewing, storing and enjoying coffee from South America, or anywhere else in the world. Our coffee supplies fluctuate so that we can guarantee the freshest roasting so please check with us for availability.
Colombian coffee is characterized by its mild and well-rounded flavour profile and well-known for a medium-body, rich taste and citrus-like acidity. UNESCO has declared the Coffee Cultural Landscape in Colombia as a World Heritage site. Colombian beans serve as the base for many coffee blends and this is an excellent all-round choice for many coffee lovers.
Brazil is responsible for 1/3 of all coffee production, making it the world's largest producer. It is known for its very typical dark roast and mellow flavour and is often used for making espresso as it can handle the dark roast without turning bitter. Most Brazilian coffee is labelled Santos for the shipping port through which it is shipped worldwide. Many of our products from De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters, based out of Toronto, are Brazilian coffees.
Guatemalan coffees are known for a floral acidity that is often spicy. Other tasting notes include rich chocolatey-cocoa flavour, and a toffee-like sweetness. The green coffees grown in the Atitlan and Antigua coffee growing regions in the country's central highlands exhibit these qualities the most strongly. Guatemalan Antigua coffee is one of the region’s most famous exports.
Based on this list, it would appear that islands are absolute heaven for growing the world’s most amazing teas and coffees.
When we think of high quality green tea, we think Japan. Sweet, earthy flavors, innumerable health benefits and wide ranging variation in green teas. From Genmaicha (green tea mixed with roasted popped brown rice, aka sushi restaurant tea), to Sencha (classic green tea) to matcha (finely ground powder of specially grown green tea leaves), Japan has it all. We carry the highest quality organic green teas as well as fruity and fragrant Sencha blends. Come try our newest favourite – Sakura, a gentle infusion of cherry blossoms and cherry tree leaves. We also carry Japanese lines, such as Kinto and Hario, for classic and timeless designs for brewing and enjoying your tea.
Besides tacky aloha shirts, Kona coffee is one of the most recognizable exports from the Hawaiian Islands. Grown on the Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts, it is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Just like champagne from the Champagne region in France, only coffee from the Kona Districts can be called Kona coffee. We fly in green beans from Kona and do custom roasting in-store. Custom roasting of fresh green Kona beans can be easily arranged through the store. And you can always enjoy it with some Big Island chocolate!
We cherish our tea from Sri Lanka and the tea industry would be lost without! We carry a range of teas from Sri Lanka (referred to by its former colony name of Ceylon) from distinctive tea estates, such as Kenilworth and Blackwood. Sri Lankan tea also serves as the base for a number of our blends, such as English Breakfast, Afternoon Blend, Earl Grey Blue Flower and Monk’s Blend. The central highland’s humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall provide a climate very well-suited to the production of high-quality single origin teas with its distinctive crisp and citrusy taste.
Ethiopia has the distinction of being the birthplace of coffee and is famed for its richly pungent, fruity and winey beans. Coffee arabica, the coffee plant, originated in Ethiopia and the age-old farming and harvesting tradition continues with the country being the largest African producer of the arabica plant and best reviewed single origin premium coffee beans. We also carry an Ethiopian mocha puerh, a rich and earthy puerh with hints of mocha flavour.
Kenya has the honour of being known for both its tea and coffee exports. We currently carry two strong black teas from Kenya – Highland Milima, a bold golden tipped black tea from the highlands, and Tinderet, a full-bodied black tea from the Tinderet Estate. Kenya’s coffee is also world renowned and it is known for its full flavour from the traditional roasting process.
Last but not least, Rooibos teas from South Africa makes up one of our largest collections. Manitoba Rooibos, our top selling tea, is a blend of Rooibos with local Manitoban ingredients. Rooibos is grown in a small mountainous area in the Western Cape province of South Africa and means red bush in Afrikaans. The tea also goes by bush tea, red tea, or red bush tea. We carry over 20 varieties of Rooibos tea, from fruity blends to dessert infusions and high quality pure Rooibos. There is naturally no caffeine in caffeine, as it is technically not a tea leaf. The Rooibos leaves are oxidised, which gives it the reddish-brown colour and earthy flavour. If the leaves are left to naturally dry, they are considered “green rooibos” which has a subtler and grassier flavour.
We hope that whets your appetite for some “Taste without the Travel”!
One of our favourite times of year is on its way– the Darjeeling spring harvest and first flush! The first flush, renowned and coveted for its delicacy and freshness, is harvested in spring or even late winter and has become a very welcome sign that spring must be on its way. The timing of the harvest depends on the area and tea farmer but this is generally considered the most prized harvest or “flush” of tea available. The store gets in a limited supply each year, with loyal customers awaiting its return. We also celebrate the shipments as it means spring and summer are not far behind. If you are interested in learning more about the Darjeeling first flush or pre-ordering some, please contact the shop and we’ll be happy to help.