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I was lucky enough to be one of the few invited to O5 Rare Tea Bar’s tasting event. Nestled in the heart of lovely Kitsilano, this boutique tea lounge is home to some of Asia’s rarest teas. Now I’m not much of a tea person; my knowledge of this subject is limited to Chai’s and Earl Grey’s. So when I was asked to attend, I was both excited and nervous.
As soon as I entered, I was greeted with a wide open, well lit space decorated with wooden accents. On one side, shelves hung on the wall which displayed antique looking oriental glasses and jars, and dried tea leaves. On the other side was a long communal countertop; on top of it lay different gadgets I’ve never seen before: long ladles, wooden brushes, and small trinkets. This one, however, caught my eye in particular:
A fascinating device used to grind tea leaves. My first drink was from a bittered extract. It was like drinking flavoured water; it was light and refreshing but with a very slight kick.
Throughout the evening, we got to sample rare White, Green, Matcha, and Oolong teas from different regions of Asia. This matcha that I got to try came with yema, a Filipino dessert. I was told that the Japanese drink their matcha with something sweet. And that I should drink it right away as the ground powder settles.
I might have missed the part where he explains it, but I’m not entirely sure why they selected a Filipino yema to eat with the Japanese matcha. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why they chose to do so.
Another one of the teas that I liked was the White Moonlight tea from Yang Ta, Jinggu, Yunnan. Aptly described as having a ‘nose of wild orchid, apricot and berries. Clover honey sensation on the palate.’, this tea was not as light as the previous ones we sampled. It was cold and was a bit stronger on my palate. There was also a candied hibiscus flower from South Mexico that was sitting on the bottom of my glass that I consumed after drinking the tea. We got to sample those candied hibiscus on its own later on that evening.
The most fascinating topic for me that evening was when I found out about these tea leaves formed into coins and strewn together like a necklace
When I asked about it, I was told it was known as Ddok Cha. It’s an extremely rare and labour intensive tea to make from Korea. It also takes a long time before they can use it to drink. We’re talking years.
What’s really amazing to me is that there is a whole world of these specialty teas that I never even knew existed. I guess this isn’t a surprise for avid tea drinkers, but for Pedro and his team to be so knowledgeable and passionate about this topic AND to share their knowledge with everyone is something worth noting. I’m glad I got a glimpse into the world of specialty, rare teas; it was quite an exciting experience!