The Urban Tea Merchant specializes in the experience of fine luxury tea enjoyment. The flagship store is located in downtown Vancouver on Alberni Street. Retail store front and restaurant retreat in the back. Amongst the busy streets of Vancouver, you will be able to find a little R&R.
Aside from water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. Fine tea is considered a luxury commodity and incorporates not only ancient traditions; but the Art of Tea requires fine tea leaves and resplendent utensils for experience the dynamics full.
To be specific tea, is not tea unless it comes from the leaves and leaf buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant (茶花 Cháhuā). Different types of tea, be it white, black, green, oolong, pu-erh are processed different to attain different variations of oxidation. Kukicha (茎茶 / 棒茶 bōcha) is a Japanese blend made of twigs and steams instead of leaves.
You will recognize this commonly as Sencha or Matcha, a green tea with more oxidized processing – slightly nutty and creamy flavour. Then there herbal teas such as chamomile, rooibos, etc. which refers to infusion of fruit or herbs made without the tea plant. But generally, in layman’s terms, we categorize these all as “teas”. That is why it is so important have a Certified Tea Sommelier to guide you.
The Urban Tea Merchant offers Tea Education Series and Tea Tasting Experiences to take your palate on a journey. As of September 2011, The Urban Tea Merchant has been an exclusive distribution partner with TWG of Canada where tea enthusiasts can discover a fine array of TWG tea and merchandise.
The Urban Tea Merchant offers a unique take on tea infused afternoon tea sets compare to the traditional Parisian version found at Faubourg French Patisserie.
Back of the storefront retail salon, is a private nook where you can enjoy a variety of afternoon teas.
Signature Afternoon Tea $48/person or Petite Afternoon Tea $25/person.
During the festive seasons, such as Christmas, The Urban Tea Merchant joins the festivities with their Signature Holiday Afternoon Tea Service $48/person and this is exactly what we decided to try today.
A full selection of tasty holiday savouries and sweets plus receive a gift of 50g selected Holiday TWG Teas – Red Christmas Tea (rooibos), Christmas Lights Tea (green) or Holiday Spirit Tea (black).
We began our journey while sampling Christmas Lights Tea: A light green tea with very complex flavours of almond, marzipan and spices. Festive Night Tea: A light green tea smooth with citrus, cherry and spice. Red Christmas Tea: A bold red rooibos with holiday winter spice. Holiday Spirit Tea: a bold black tea with spicy apple notes.
The teas are extremely enjoyable especially when paired with tasty savouries and sweets snacks.
The Signature Holiday Afternoon Tea set comes on a 3 tiered tray:
Bottom – delicious savory sandwiches, pickles, olives, and gorgonzola cheese.
Middle – delightful scones and tarts
Top – appealing sweets, chocolates and macarons
Savoury Tea Sandwiches
Smoked Salmon Rillette
Rich flavourful salmon pate with mixed herbs and veggies. Since the flavours are quite strong, I suggest eating this after the Egg Salad and Prawn sandwich.
Egg salad with alfalfa sprouts sandwiches just got more luxurious with tea. Tiger Hill Tea is a black tea with smooth brisk infusion and is lightly fragrant with fruity overtones; perfectly pair so it does not overpower the delicate egg flavours. The taste is very subtle and can be easily missed. Slow down when consuming.
Poached with “Russian Earl Grey” Tea apple & baby prawns infused with Tokyo-Singapore Tea.
The texture of crispy apples contrasts well with baby prawns. It is light, refreshing and slightly sweet. Russian Early Grey Tea sends of notes of citrus peels and lemongrass in addition to the traditional bergamot flavours. Tokyo-Singapore Tea is a green tea high with citrus fruits, fragrant flowers and leaves an appealing aftertaste.
To match the texture of venison, this sandwich is served on denser bread. Venison is tender, moist and well-seasoned. Yunnan Tea infused chestnut pate boasts a sensual aroma noble Chinese black tea and hints fruit notes. Chestnuts bites added to the earthiness.
Pickles, olives and celery confit gorgonzola mousse are served to cleanse your palate. I find the gorgonzola cheese a little too pungent.
Moving up to the middle tier…
The scones have a crunchy outer shell and a soft, buttery and moist center.
What is a tatin you ask? Tarte Tatin is an upside down tart where traditionally fruit are caramelized in sugar and butter prior to baking.
The Urban Tea Merchant has a unique take on it using tea infusion. The tart has a complex texture, a soft smoky upper layer followed by a flakey crunchy bottom.
Grand Wedding Tea (purple) – is a black tea infused macaron featuring a blend of sunflowers and exotic fruit notes.
Napoleon Tea (black) – is also a black tea infused macaron featuring sweet spices and a hint of vanilla.
If you liked the macarons from Thierry Chocolaterie you will definitely enjoy these as well.
Chocolate dipped gooseberry. Deliciously semi-sweet chocolate pairs wonderfully with the sour tart taste of gooseberry.
One was infused with 1837 Tea to match the selected tea for my afternoon tasting session. 1837 black tea blends with fruit notes and flowers from the Bermuda triangle. The enjoyment comes in the after taste where ripe berries, anise, and caramel taste the palate. The other Morning Singapore Tea.
Very cute don’t you think?
We savoured our selected tea without cream and sugar to fully enjoy the different notes.
Steep well and smell the aromas expelled as you pour the tea into your cup.
As mentioned above, 1837 black tea blends with fruit notes and flowers from the Bermuda triangle. The enjoyment comes in the after taste where ripe berries, anise, and caramel taste the palate. What makes 1837 so special? This is when the tea trade was made official in Singapore with the creation of the Chamber of Commerce and the 1837 TWG Tea honours Singapore’s domination as a trading post.
Crème Brulee Tea – green tea of red fruits and strawberries.
Our experience at The Urban Tea Merchant has been a very merry adventure! Full stomach and complete satiated.
Our enjoyment did not only end in the back room while we eat to our heart’s content, but also when we went back to the store front to browse at the salon setting full of teas, gift ideas, and information booth where tea sommelier can provide vital and interesting information to assist tea drinkers in their journey for a delicious pot of tea!
Follow The Urban Tea Merchant’s journey:
Exclusive Interview with The Urban Tea Merchant Team:
Owners/Leaders: Tom and Karinna James have a depth of retail experience having owned and operated successful entrepreneurial businesses since 1973, including ownership and development of a multi-store cosmetic operation in Canada and the United States. In addition, Tom is a leadership specialist who has helped to grow companies in a wide range of industries from commodities to specialized services.
Tea Ambassadors: To capture the spirit of The Urban Tea Merchant and the experience of our worldwide journey in 2001, we created what we consider to be a key position in our company: our Tea Ambassadors. We sought individuals with a passion for the tea experience and who would be enthusiastic ambassadors for The Urban Tea Merchant. Today we have some 35 members of the community who are part of this unique experience.
Chef: Michael Batoux has started his journey with us in September 2011. He has worked with fine dining restaurants and a luxury cruise line called Seabourn. At the forefront of our tea salon concept Chef Batoux will be continuing to feature signature TWG Tea’s into sweet and savoury recipes.
What is unique about The Urban Tea Merchant?
We are in an experience based business in which our customers feel connected, that we’re looking after them, that we understand what they are interested in. And because of these experiences we know that our customers will be more likely to be loyal to the brand. Central to this unique selling position is that we unite luxury with a warm and welcoming experience, where our customers don’t feel intimidated.
The TWG Tea founders have a diverse experience in building global businesses and brands combined with being recognized leaders in tea innovation.
TWG Tea and its founders have been featured in leading magazines such as Forbes, Vogue, Herald Tribune, Elle, and The New York Times. TWG Tea is also the featured gourmet tea on Singapore Airlines in First and Business Class.
TWG Tea has an established reputation for quality of origin, taste and packaging. TWG Tea is highly acclaimed for its tea list of over 800 different fine harvests and exclusive blends – the largest in the world. In addition, TWG Tea creates exquisite signature modern tea accessories in a myriad of colors, materials and precious metals updating and innovating traditional designs.
Afternoon Tea Selections:
- Signature Afternoon Tea $48/p
- ultimate afternoon tea service includes an aperitif, a full range of tea sandwiches, petite sweets, our famous warm scone with signature crème & jam.
- Westcoast Afternoon Tea – $29/p (min. 2 persons)
- Fresh, seasonal platter of open-face sandwiches and delectable sweets – B.C. style
- Petite Afternoon Tea – $25/p
- light Afternoon Tea Service, includes a small selection of tea sandwiches and sweets.
- Little Gourmet Afternoon Tea – $24/p (12 years and under)
- Served with fun, friendly tea sandwiches, sweets, chocolate scone and your selection of rooibos or fruit tisane tea
- Signature Brunch Service – $24/p
- Your choice of fresh baked scone with signature crème & jam, fresh fruit and orange juice with oeufs brouillés (scrambled eggs)
- Petite Brunch Service – $16/p
- Your choice of fresh baked scone with signature crème & jam, fresh fruit and orange juice.
- Afternoon Tea
- Pacific Northwest
- Retail Shop
- Flagship Store: Downtown
- Original Store: West Vancouver
- Wine / champagne list
- TWG exclusive distributors
- Tea Ambassadors
- Education Classes
- Tea Tasting
The Urban Tea Merchant Vancouver
Cuisine: Tea Rooms, Desserts, Pacific Northwest
Hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
1070 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 2Y2