Over the last few years, Toronto's tea drinkers have been lucky enough to find some great spots to enjoy their favourite brews. Whether it's a warm cup on a cold day or an iced tea on a warm one, here's a list of great tea shops all over the city.
Tao Tea Leaf
Although you might not initially notice this hidden shop at 934 Yonge Street, you will certainly remember it once you've been inside.
Tao Tea Leaf
Large silver pots covered with red paper and black titles line the main wall behind the counter. The huge amounts of tea and lack of seating can make this space a little overwhelming but the kind woman working behind the counter is friendly and willing to give advice on whatever tea you're looking to drink.
Tao Tea Leaf Detail
The owner has her tea sommelier certificate hung on the wall opposite the counter, so there is no doubt this woman knows her stuff. This shop is first and foremost a tea shop,
"It's a small place with no washroom, and really good tea,"
says customer Chris Johnson, explaining the atmosphere well. There is one little display of cookies, but the real star in this place is undoubtedly the tea.
Tao Tea Leaf Interior
You can buy hot or cold tea to go or bulk bags of tea to take home. The smallest bag is weighed out for $6.00, while one cup to go will cost you just under $4.00. The teas are delicious and the Ginger Green Tea I was recommended helped soothe my lingering cough. Definitely worth checking out if you're in the areaâits biggest downfall is that it is not located downtown.
Tao Tea Leaf Pottery
Tao Tea Leaf Tea Process
More information about Tao Tea Leaf here.
Nestled between shops at 728 Queen Street West, Tealish is a popular destination for tea lovers downtown.
Tealish is run by husband and wife, Laura and Michael. Laura says,
"We wanted to share our tea love with Toronto and present it in a really fun and modern way."
And that's exactly what they have done.
The shop has a clean and airy dÃ©cor and, despite its small size, room to sit or to take out. They have two counters inside, one for teas to go at the front of the shop, and one in the back for those looking to sit and sip their tea,
"I love the atmosphere in there,"
Laura says casually.
The list of teas available is endless and the teas themselves are displayed in adorable bright cans, along an exposed brick wall. More than just hot and cold tea, they also sell accessories like teapots, mugs and brewing items. The couple opened Tealish in 2005 before Toronto's tea trend really picked up and this fun spot is obviously here to stay,
"Right now we're just happy with our one location,"
says Laura, but she adds that their teas are also available in restaurants and cafÃ©s.
Tsaa Tea Shop
Located at 412 Danforth Ave, this shop has much more than tea on the menu.
Tsaa Tea Shop
Tsaa Tea Shop offers a variety of food items from cheddar and chives scones, to toasted almond meringue to different kinds of cookies, as well as a full menu with all day breakfast, gourmet sandwiches and melts. This little cafÃ© has restaurant seating, with small tables and chairs and a small bar with stools, for people to dine at or sit at while wait for their beverages.
Tsaa Tea Shop Cakes
The crowd is varied, ranging from bros chatting about life, to resident Danforth locals who enjoy chatting with the owners as they dine. The old Asian couple working behind the counter aren't the quickest servers but what they serve up is worth the wait.
Tsaa Tea Shop Interior
The tea options range from hot tea lattes, to iced tea to bubble teas. A specialty tea beverage will normally cost you just over $4.00. The charm of this place is less in its tea knowledge and more in its atmosphere with the old couple behind the counter, fireplace in its centre, and tea paraphernalia filling every crook in the space.
Tsaa Tea Shop Tea
Tsaa Tea Shop Tea Process
Pippins Tea Company Inc
Pippins' storefront has a nostalgic feel to it, with a blue and white canapÃ©, reminiscent of a shop you might find on a downtown strip in cottage country.
Owner Barbara Deangelis adds to this small town feel in saying that she opened a tea shop,
"Because only nice people come in tea shops."
Located at 2098 Queen Street East, East End locals surely enjoy having this cute cafÃ© in the neighbourhood.
Pippins will be celebrating their 10th year in the beaches this year and they are truly supportive of their community. They currently offer over 150 loose leaf teas, along with a mix of general store items like beach memorabilia, lotions, cards and china.
"At any given time, I have about 80 teapots [in here],"
says Deangelis, of the many items for sale in the shop.
"You can rationalize that anything goes with tea,"
Deangelis says brightly, and she's right--Pippins started with just tea, and then added tea pots, mugs and general paraphernalia.
After that, the owner says it was easy to expand with tea towels and tea sets and of course,
"you need shortbread."
The quaint shop now sells 'Vino 2 Go', which are wine glasses inside to-go mugs, which Deangelis suggests using for iced tea. To go along with the cottage country feel of the place, the inside has antique furniture and evident warmth not only coming from their delicious teas, but from a pleasant staff and the mix of items for sale. One cup of tea to go is about $2.00, depending on the brew.
Pippins Tea Pots
Meet The Photographer: BEA LABIKOVA
Bea is a Toronto based musician, photographer, teacher and a multidisciplinary visual artist. Growing up surrounded by her fatherâs antique camera collection, Bea was naturally inclined towards photography since an early age. She loves taking portraits of unique faces and always tries to capture the colours of the world around us. Her main areas of interest are documentary, performance and travel photography.