Vancouver Tea Festival 2018: Recap

Over the past weekend, I was at the 5th annual Vancouver Tea Festival, hosted by the Vancouver Tea Society at the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in historic Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia. The event happened on Saturday, November 3rd (10am to 5pm) and Sunday, November 4th (11am to 4pm).

Each day of the tea festival had both presentations (included with the price of admission) and tastings (ticketed; I didn’t attend the tastings but I believe they were $5 per person, per tasting). The information was all laid out on the website in advance so I could plan accordingly to make sure I knew when I had to be where.

Herbs from the Herbal Tea-Making Workshop

A sampling of Amoda’s Curated Collection

I was there bright and early, even if Vancouver was living up to its nickname of Raincouver, on Saturday because the presentations that I wanted to attend on Saturday were the first two – Matcha 101 with Kimmy Xiao of Whisk Premium Matcha and Herbal Tea-Making Workshop with Tegan Woo of Amoda Tea and Vivien Hsiung of Vive Wellness. There were some technical difficulties and hiccups on day 1, but the presenters were all very graceful and took it in stride as they kept calm and carried on. Both presentations that I attended were so informative – I learned so much about the history and production of matcha as well as herbal properties and how to blend with intention. Read More …

Adagio Teas’ Masala Chai

Masala Chai by Adagio Teas
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.00USD for 3oz (85g)

First Impressions

Masala Chai came to me in a resealable pouch that had all the necessary information on the label – which is always a nice touch. I have friends and family members with food allergies, so it’s always important to me to be able to check at a quick glance what ingredients are present in a tea blend (thankfully nobody has told me so far that they have an allergy to tea yet!). The rich aroma from the dry leaf is primarily that of the spices that are present in the blend. I can mostly smell the cinnamon and the ginger, as those are the strongest fragrances that I can pick out.

Masala Chai consists of: black tea, cardamom, ginger root, cloves, natural cinnamon flavour, and cinnamon bark. What’s nice is that the ingredients are easy to identify in the blend, there seems to be a fairly even distribution of most of the spices throughout the chai blend.

Preparation

Adagio Teas recommends steeping Masala Chai in 100°C (212°F) water for 7 to 10 minutes. I followed the steeping recommendations and did an initial steep of 10 minutes.

First Taste

Masala Chai steeps to a golden brown with a rich, spicy fragrance from the chai mix. I can easily taste the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. There’s a pleasant sweetness in the tea, which balances well with the spicy notes with this black tea blend. I do find myself searching a bit for the cardamom, which is a flavour that I quite enjoy in chai blends but I also do recognize that it can be easily overpowered by strong spices such as the ginger and cinnamon.

I did pour myself a cup of Masala Chai, and added a healthy amount of locally sourced honey as well as some evaporated milk. Like many chai blends, this is a tea that takes to the addition of sweetener and milk or cream well.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Masala Chai twice, adding an additional 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found that the first resteep was most similiar to the initial steep – it was a bit watery compared to the initial steep. The second resteep did not fair well, and frankly I did not enjoy it at all. I would say that Masala Chai is good for one more steep.

My Overall Impression

I liked Adagio Teas’ Masala Chai. The flavours of the spices were pleasant, and it did hold it fairly decently to being resteeped. I found myself wishing that the cardamon was more present in the initial steep, and would have liked for it to have a heavier presence in the tea. The other spices were well represented in Adagio Teas’ version of Masala Chai, and I found it to make for a nice cup of tea.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

DavidsTea’s Chai Matcha

Chai Matcha by DavidsTea
Green Tea (Matcha) / Flavoured
$16.00 for 80g

First Impressions

Chai Matcha from DavidsTea comes in a prepackaged format both online and in stores. While some of their blended matcha products are accessible via smaller increments from the wall of tea in their retail stores, they made the decision to release Chai Matcha only in a prepackaged format of 80g bags. It comes sealed and the bag is resealable, which is always a nice touch. The preprinted bags have stickers on the front and the back to showcase which tea it is inside.

The aroma of the dry green powder is mostly that of the spices, and just sweetness. It does smell sweet, which is no wonder considering the first ingredient listed for this matcha blend… Chai Matcha consists of: cane sugar, green tea, and natural chai flavourings. I’m really disappointed that sugar is the first listed ingredient in this product, but there is only 6g of sugar per serving which isn’t nearly as bad as some other products I’ve tried previously. The chai spices that I can smell include cinnamon and cardamom, ad maybe a bit of ginger? Whatever is in the “flavouring”, it does smell like a chai spice mix.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends whisking 4-5 perfect matcha spoonfuls in 120mL (4oz) of water (85°C/185°F) and then topping up with warm milk or water to make a drink that is 475mL (16oz). I don’t own a perfect matcha spoon, so I used 1 spoon from the Perfect Spoon into my matcha bowl and whisked, and then transferred to a larger cup.

First Taste

I whisked 1 perfect spoonful of the Chai Matcha, which is equal to 2½ teaspoons. I used my Thinktea Matcha Set for this step since it’s the only matcha bowl and whisk that I own. The whisking process didn’t take very long. In full disclosure, I did not sift the matcha into my bowl – this is a step that I will often do for more “fancier” matcha varieties, but I don’t usually do it for blends.

When having the Chai Matcha straight (topped up with water and not milk), I found that there was more spice flavour than matcha flavour. I’m not overly surprised since spices can be a bit overwhelming compared to the delicate nature of matcha. It is quite sweet, but I don’t really like it all too much straight because I’d rather be able to taste the matcha.

I did whisk another bowl of Chai Matcha, and then added it to heated soy milk (I use organic, unsweetened soy milk). I found that the flavour was greatly improved as a latte. The spices weren’t as strong, but the matcha flavour did seem better balanced as a latte.

A Second Cup?

No second steeps with Chai Matcha since all of the powder is suspended and mixed into the first preparation.

My Overall Impression

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I both didn’t like and loved DavidsTea’s Chai Matcha. As a straight tea (made with only water), I thought Chai Matcha was really nothing to write home about. However, when made as a latte, the flavours were really much better balanced and it honestly tasted a lot better. I like the idea of a straight Chai Matcha, but the taste wasn’t delicious (to me!). Since determining that I do love Chai Matcha as a tea latte, I finished my original bag and bought more (Chai Matcha is a limited edition product, unfortunately, and is already sold out in some stores and online).

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.