Thursday, January 13, 2011
On the South side of the Bay building, this is a tea shop that sells both the tea leaves, and by the cup.
It is hard to describe the process or ordering a cup of tea. You come to the counter and you are confronted with what they call "the Tea Wall", that features literally more than 100 bins filled with different varieties of tea.
They will try to gauge your understanding of tea and try to show you teas that you might like, giving you some background about each, opening the bins, inviting you to smell them. It is an educational experience, albeit overwhelming. Of course, I had no way to know how accurate their information was; after all, they are a biased source of information.
I am keen on lightly or non-roasted tea and became curious about their white teas, and ended ordering simply white tea, and ordered a cup. The cost was steep --4.20, tax included, but, if the tea is as rare as they promise, I think it is not a bad one (regular teas are priced a 2.75).
You are invited to seat---they will bring the tea to your table--- something I appreciate it. The table next to mine was like a Tupperware party. They were having a tea tasting, discussing flavour and aromas like sommelier (apparently they were planning a tea party).
I got my tea. The cup is probably 350-400 ml. Large. The tea had, as I expected, a subtle flavour. As I expected, it was slightly sweet, but didn't have much smell (something I missed). Definitely a good cup of tea.
The place is small. it sits approximately 16 people in a combination of tables and comfy chairs.
One think that bothered me is that I didn't get to see the tea leaves. I understand the process of making tea, but I would have wanted to see what the leaves turned to after they are used. Otherwise, what guarantees me that the tea I got was the one I ordered?
I enjoyed my visit. It turns tea drinking into an experience of discovery. If you are willing to take the time to listen to their descriptions (and sales pitch), and to learn about teas, Teaopia is worth the visit. The downside is that, if you are looking for a cup of tea only, it will be an expensive one.
The obvious comparison is against Murchies. As a tea speciality shop, I feel Teaopia is better. At Murchies (the restaurant) you can order almost any tea, but there is no ability to ask about each, or get to smell them. They will not educate you (that is what the store is supposed to do, but they can't make the tea for you, you have to go back to the restaurant). On the other hand, Murchies has coffee, pastries and food (much better than Teopia). Murchies has more sitting space, and is cheaper.
Verdict: Expensive. Visit only if you are tea aficionado.
For more information, including price, visit: