Nohohon Tea Room
Nohohon is doing something different than most Toronto bubble tea shops . While most look to Taiwan or China for inspiration, this Queen West tea room takes its inspiration from Japan. Offering a diverse selection of senchas, matchas, and onigiri rice snacks, it's easy to see Nohohon's Japanese roots in everything that they serve.
Inside the small space brings to mind a simple Japanese tea room. Uncluttered and minimalist, the cafe puts me in am unhurried, peaceful state of mind despite the hustle and bustle on the other side of the window.
All the teas here are brewed to order, so don't be surprised if you have to wait a bit longer for your drink. The tapioca pearls are made in small batches hourly, ensuring that the "bubbles" are fresh and free of chemical preservatives. Drinks are sweetened with either organic agave or pure cane sugar.
Nohohon's best-seller is the Tokyo Fog ($4.40). It's essentially a freshly-made matcha latte. The bitterness of the tea balances well with the sweet red beans with the vanilla tying it all together.
Those looking for something similar to traditional bubble tea should order a drink from the menu's Homebrew category. I try the Lavenderbrew ($4.25). It's refreshingly light, and the lavender isn't overpowering. As with any of the beverages in the store, you can customize the tea's level of sweetness.
During the winter months, Nohohon offers seasonal varieties of tea like the Seven Spice Cocoa ($3.95) - a delicious take on the traditional hot chocolate mixed with roasted orange peel, ginger and Japanese hot peppers. It's great for warming up on a cold day and has a noticeably spicy kick.
Not to be overlooked is the onigiri . The gomoku ($3.50) is slightly sweet, with thin slivers of shiitake mushrooms and carrots within. My personal favourite is the chili + kelp onigiri ($3.50), which has a good mix of savoury and spicy flavours. The chili okazu comes with a mix of chili, miso and sesame oil inside the onigiri.
I also try the vegan cookies ($3 each). On the day I stop by there are green tea and yuzu chocolate-oatmeal varieties. Both are satisfyingly large if a bit dry. The green tea one is slightly bitter and the chocolate one a bit sweeter.
It's nice to see a slightly different take on the traditional bubble tea concept. While the cafe is a bit small, the quality and care put into each of Nohohon's beverages make it worth a visit.