Tao Tea Leaf
Tao Tea Leaf is a specialty teashop near where Yorkville transitions to Rosedale on Yonge. The storeowner, Tao, moved from China in 2007, and began his shop out of a love and passion for high quality tea. He offers an eclectic variety of Chinese, Japanese, organic, blended and flavoured teas.
Selling to retailers and wholesalers, their tea has gained a lot of attention including a first place award in the annual North American Tea Championship.
Tao's shop offers about 140 teas, and a detailed catalogue for any walk-in rookies, unacquainted with the tea world. I sense Tao really cares about my finding the right tea, and insists I test out an oolong tea from Taiwan called "Baozhong."
My tea sample is served in a tiny teapot, and he tells me this style of tea drinking is unique to Chinese culture. In order to feel the true calming effect of tea, it must be steeped in a small pot, and served slowly and gradually.
Tao Tea Leaf also sells a variety of tea accessories, many of which are antique pieces from Japan or China. In fact, his entire shop is filled with interesting furniture and tea-ware for both show and retail. He offers traditional and modern accessories such as tea infusers ($3.99), glass teapots ($36.99), or traditional clay teapots called Yixing teapots ($40). Prices for loose-leaf tea vary based on quality, but can start at around $5 for 25 grams. Tea drinks can also be purchased to-go.
I'm even more intrigued by the in-store tea workshops which help novice tea drinkers learn a little more about tea culture. These include basic introductory courses, and more specific classes such as the "Oolong Tea Workshop" or "Green and White Tea Workshop." Each workshop is $25, and schedules can be found on the store's website.
Photos by Alexandra Grigorescu