In the heart of Downtown Vancouver, between busy intersections, crowded shops, and puddle-laden sidewalks, there is a warm, calm, and welcoming tea room serving up delectable seasonal treats paired with a comforting selection of TWG holiday teas.
Festive Tea Service at The Urban Tea Merchant
Reza Nasooti, who is the Tea Sommelier at The Urban Tea Merchant in Vancouver, describes a holiday tea as something with spices and flavours that we associate with holiday cooking and baking, such as cloves, sweet orange, and cinnamon. Each holiday tea may also have a different base, such as black tea, green tea, or herbals. Most importantly, he says: “A holiday tea can be anything that exudes and brings forth the warmth of family, friends, and being together at this time of year.”
At The Urban Tea Merchant, you can enjoy at least half a dozen Christmas blends from TWG that feature everything from marzipan, hibiscus (White Christmas), and rooibos (Red Christmas) to jasmine pearls plated with molten 24ct gold (Christmas Jewel).
I popped by for their Festive Tea Service, stepping out of the blue and grey Downtown rain and into the warmth of the tea room, that glowed in golds and reds. The service begins with a bubbly warm up for your taste buds: A sparkling holiday tea mocktail ($8*, alcohol-free) made with pear Nectar, sparkling apple juice, ginger, and TWG’s Red Christmas Tea. This is included with the service although looking at the menu I may have to come in another time to try the cocktail made with Prosecco and Red Christmas Tea ($12*).
From the Christmas Collection, Reza began by pouring the Christmas Jewel tea, filling my cup slowly — and in a clockwise motion to release the aromas — with the soft, rosé-coloured blend.
The next sample was White Christmas, which I remember from my first visit to The Urban Tea Merchant back in 2012, and I’m not sure why I haven’t had it since! It has precious Yin Zhen (silver needles) blended with orange peel, hibiscus and spices.
Next was the Holiday Spirit, which I sipped during the tea service as three tiers of treats were presented on my table. It is “a nostalgic blend of black tea blended with magical and evocative spices […] that pays tribute to the warmth and joy of the celebratory season.”
Savouries all include tea-infused bites such as the honey-tea shooter topped with a garnish of Noel! Noel! tea-infused duck breast and an amarena cherry and an Imperial Lapsang Souchong Tea-infused chicken salad with black sesame. My favourite was the smoked salmon rosette with wasabi Sencha Tea creme and ponzu gel. It was the ultimate fusion of West Coast flavours with a tongue-tingling flare in just one (big) bite.
On the sweet side, there are truffles, strawberries, TWG tea macarons, fresh fruit and a strawberry dome with creme Anglaise and candied pistachios. The pièce de résistance was the Egg Nog Vanilla Bourbon Tea panna cotta with pomegranate mousse.
After all of these tummy-pleasing tiers of goodness you’ll want to wrap yourself in a thick scarf (preferably one knitted by a grandmother or loving relative), light some candles, put on some Bing Crosby records, and cuddle up under a Christmas tree. Be sure to make your way home first as The Urban Tea Merchant closes at 7:00pm or 8:00pm depending on the day.
The Festive Tea Service is $52* per person. The Traditional Tea Set is $38* per person. Other seasonal tea service options include the Children’s Sugar Plum Tea Service ($28* per person, 12 years and under) with sandwiches, sweets, scones and child-friendly rooibos teas such as Red Christmas Tea or Creme Caramel Tea.
If you’re shopping for a tea-lover this Christmas, you can create your own TWG Tea hamper by choosing from The Urban Tea Merchant’s collection of over 800 loose teas from 45 tea-producing regions around the world, packed in decorated tins. Add in tea jellies, chocolates, sugars, macarons and shortbreads and you’ve got the ultimate tea drinker’s gift basket.
Reservations can now be made for the Festive Tea and other afternoon tea services including group events. A gluten-free and vegetarian afternoon tea options are available upon request (in advance, with your booking).
The Urban Tea Merchant is located at 1070 West Georgia Street and you can find them on Twitter and Facebook.
* Prices in this blog post are as noted at the time of publication and may or may not include taxes. Pricing at the venue, per the venue is correct.