I came across the Camellia Sinensis Teahouse many years ago at their booth at the Toronto Tea Festival. Since then, I’ve wanted to go to a shop. As I visiting Montreal, Canada I knew I had to drop by!
Review: Camellia Sinensis Teashop began in 1998 and has a long history with tea in Canada. There are 3 teashops and since I was in Montreal, I wanted to go to the Emery Street location because it is the first shop and also has a sitting area. What I didn’t realize before visiting was I could do tea comparison tastings. I initially thought the seating area was for people who ordered a cup/pot of tea to sit down. So, I decided to stay and compare some teas! This was very reminiscent of the online tea course Camellia Sinensis had a few years ago.
The comparative tasting menu at the shop was divided into two sections – Discovery and Grand Crus (which are higher-quality teas). Each set was a pairing of two teas. I went with a friend and we decided to order two tastings – one from each section. We picked the oolong set (to compare baking vs. roasting processing methods) from the Discovery section and the Sri Lanka Grand Cru set with white and black teas.
The four teas were brewed in a professional tasting set which consisted of a 150 ml (5 oz of water) cup with a lid and a bowl where the liquor is decanted. These sets are useful to keep brewing perimeters consistent between the teas and to also clearly see the wet leaves and liquor. Each set was served on a small tray with a spoon and small tea cups. I liked that the teas were prepared for us, so I didn’t have to worry about timing or water temperature. My friend and I ended up sharing the four teas, so I asked for additional tasting cups.
Grand Cru: Teas from Sri Lanka – Ceylan New Madakumbura (White) & Ceylan Mattakelle (Black)
I suggested to my friend that we should try the Sri Lanka set first, despite it having black tea because I thought it would be best to taste the white tea first. I am glad we did because the white tea was very delicate. While the wet buds were large and fluffy, the liquor had no real smell and had a floral and hay taste. The reddish black tea liquor in contrast was much more flavourful. It had a mineral quality with roasted, woody, and fruity notes. It had a slight bitterness and dryness at the back of the throat.
Discovery: Basking vs. Roasted Oolongs – Mucha Tei Guan Yin (Taiwan) & Qi Lan Wuyi (China)
Tea processing is an area of tea I like exploring because it is so unique to the country/tea region, so I was very excited about this tasting. The baked Qi Lan Wuyi is from China and the roasted Mucha Tie Guan Yin is from Taiwan. While both teas had a roasted smell, the Mucha Tie Guan Yin had a more noticeable roasted charcoal aroma. In contrast, the Chinese oolong had lighter liquor was sweeter and reminded me of baked goods. That being said, I didn’t find the Mucha Tie Guan Yin overly roasted and had a vegetal note and mild bitterness.
I really enjoyed my time at Camellia Sinensis Teahouse! I thought the tea comparison sets were presented in an approachable format and it was nice to share tea with my friend and chat about the teas. When the cups were served, the lids were closed with the wet leaves inside so, I opened the lids to examine the leaves. That being said, I wish I had an opportunity to see the dry leaves, but I can understand why the dry leaves would have to be thrown out since it wouldn’t be sanitary to serve them.
Overall, I liked the oolong pairing slightly better just because I always find tea processing interesting. What I also found out is that the menu seems to be changed every month, so it’s worth visiting! I would recommend this to anyone who wants to try different teas and compare them (4/5 rating).
- Company: Camellia Sinensis Teahouse