Did you know that tea is the second most popular beverage in the world after water?
In places like India, China and Sri Lanka the word tea is reserved for beverages made from steeping the leaves of one of four varieties of a very specific plant. It’s how they are cured, the climate they’re grown in or the size of leaf picked that makes them different.
Herbal blends, tisanes and infusions are prepared like tea, but are made with herbs, bark, flowers, roots, spices, seeds and fruit. Like beverages made from true teas, herbal teas can be served hot or cold.
In Ontario, for us, the term ‘tea’ loosely refers to any beverage steeped from botanicals and fruit.
With this expanded definition for the world’s second favorite beverage, it’s easy to see how it can be a conduit for our terroir and tradition. Tea made with Prince Edward County grown lavender (like this one from our friends at Pluck Teas!) will tell a very different story than one made with cedar bows foraged in the Haliburton Highlands. Pluck Teas are so uniquely Canadian, that they’re now being poured at the Governor Generals house!
There are so many beautiful, locally-grown ingredients that can be used to make teas. Herbs like rosemary, peppermint, sage and chamomile make lovely teas, while fruit like apples, cranberries and even grape skins add lovely sour and fruity notes to many brews.
There’s also the plethora of edible flowers grown on farmers across Southern Ontario that can be tossed in.
Celebrate Ontario With Tea
Stratford offers several ways to enjoy tea. Meet tea sommelier, Karen Hartwick at Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar for tea tastings or stop by Distinctly Tea for a broad selection of teas and tea brewing accessories. Reserve you space at Revival House High Tea or visit The Bruce Restaurant for their next afternoon tea date.
In Toronto, high tea at the Royal York Hotel is not to be missed, but those looking for a more intimate experience can head to Kitten & The Bear in Parkdale and pair their tea with housemade jams and scones.
Afternoon tea is at it’s finest at Zoe’s in the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. Think tall stacks of tiny sandwiches and other treats paired with the perfect brew. For something equally impressive, but cozy, there’s The Vanitea Room on Somerset.
So you’re not a tea drinker? Try cooking with tea!
We love the creative, tea infused dishes coming out of our province’s kitchens — take that inspiration home and try cooking with tea yourself. Need a starting point? Try this Pluck Tea infused BBQ Sauce!