Icha Tea is where to go in Toronto for all things Chinese tea. They brew it, sell it, and teach you the proper rituals of an authentic tea ceremony.
From quick grab-and-go area at the front to a more formal tea room at the back to event where they bring in tea masters from China to teach courses about tea, this is the place to go if you have a true tea obsession or are just looking for the perfect cup.
The grab-and-go area is in the front, with a light, minimal feel and all drink making taking place out in the open. You’re always asked about sweetness level before making any drink.
Iced cheese foam teas ($5.30 made with Four Seasons tea) that have gained in popularity are available here. The foam is all natural and made with real cream cheese so it dissolves into the drink more, but tastes just as creamy.
Iced crysanthemum pure crafted milk tea ($3.80) is creamy and aromatic, but I’m amazed by how much I love the pearls (50 cents) made with Chinese brown sugar that brings a really nicely earthy, naturally sweet flavour to the tapioca.
A matcha latte ($4.90) is perfectly crafted so that a layer of milk tea and a smaller top layer of matcha are perfectly stacked on top of one another.
The matcha is imported from Japan, the brand apparently over a hundred years old. The matcha is broken up by slowly adding water a bit at a time, whisking it with a wooden tool.
They also use it to bake their own matcha rolls.
The back area is surprisingly large and a little dimmer and darker, partially due to the lack of windows and partially the darker decor, though it would be an extremely quiet spot for studying or tea drinking and reflection.
For an actual tea ceremony, you can choose from a tea bar option where you are individually served tea by a bartender in a tasting experience (usually under $10) or a tea set option that’s a self-serve experience including two cups for the more initiated (a little over $10 to just under $20).
You start by selecting your tea from a detailed menu. We’re offered a delicately handled floral white tea, as well as an irresistible milk scented oolong ($7.20 for bar, $14 for set) that smells creamy and spicy.
From there an elaborate process is carried out of boiling water and pouring it from vessel to vessel, using a special colour-changing tool to measure the temperature of the water all the while.
Apparently no two tea masters can ever make the exact same cup, each one individually steeped.