Puddles splashed under my feet, the air was damp and cold enough to chill me to the bone, and my umbrella was one gust away from auditioning for Mary Poppins. And yet there I was, adrenaline pumping, frolicking around town with the most excited, giddy feeling bubbling out of me. Nope, it wasn’t because of cupcakes. Or sushi. And no, I didn’t find a chunk of change on the ground although that would have been pretty nice too. No, I was bursting with delightful joy because I had just bought two boxes of tea. TEA!! I could shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE MY TEAAAA!
I have never been more ecstatic over a food and drink purchase in my life. And as you all know, I get excited about many things so this is huge! I know, I gush about cupcakes and macarons and vegetarian food and Italian and brunch and cookbooks and food accessories and all that good stuff. But I never had to hunt for any of it. This time I hunted. I looked and I hunted and I was rewarded with treasure: a total of 3 boxes of amazing tea that I cannot wait to drown my tea mesh ball in! Before you ask what the heck I’m even talking about, let me start from the beginning.
Over the past several years, I’ve been drinking loose leaf tea on a pretty regular basis. As a child, I would drink tea at dim sum with my family, sure, but this was different. This was me going out to buy loose leaf from David’s Tea, going out to grab a cup at a cute tea shop, and keeping up with new flavours and flavours I had already tried. After starting my job at Kraft, the tea situation has only intensified. I drink tea every morning at work now. I don’t miss a beat. I drink tea the same way java junkies inhale their coffee. I stock up and actually have a cute purple paper bag from Steeped & Infused that I keep in the cupboard of my co-worker’s kitchen that is full of loose leaf tea baggies in all sorts of flavours so I’ll always have something to choose from in the mornings. And said co-worker? Bless her heart, she adores tea as much as I do (if not more) and shares her loot with me.
Basically, my tea obsession has just gotten ridiculous. But I don’t care. Because I love it and it makes me happy.
So, my dear co-worker, who goes through Union station every morning to get to work, was given tea samples by some nice folks during the morning rush hour not too long ago. Knowing how much I loved having a cuppa every day, she asked for a few extras so she could surprise me. These tea samples were none other than the ones from the fair trade, organic Four O’clock brand and tea collection! I was completely taken aback. Four O’clock teas?! How did this get past my radar?! The packaging looked completely unfamiliar and the name didn’t ring a bell. For all I knew, I could have had a tea from them in the past without knowing it was actually from them. Either way, I brewed a cup of chai from one of the samples and fell utterly head over heels in love. OH.MY.GOD. Tea is warm, cozy heaven in a cup. I had to know what in the world this tea was all about.
So I did what any savvy, modern foodie would do: I Googled them.
And I was floored. As part of the Trans-herbe company based in Quebec, Four O’Clock teas are sold all over the world and are available in shops and health food stores all across the country and province. Their website has a section where you can search for shops that sell Four O’Clock tea (CLICK HERE) and oh my goodness is there EVER a ridiculous number of places that carry it in Toronto and York Region! This is my holy grail tea guide, folks! And the flavours! Banana Cinnamon Spice! Tiramisu! Raspberry Cream! There was no way I was going to let this slip by and fade into oblivion. I was going to hunt these teas down if it was the last thing I did.
And that, my dear friends, is how and why I ended up splashing in puddles around town looking for Four O’Clock tea in the wet and cold god-awful weather (not during the Whole Foods trip though, that day was sunny!). And I’m over-the-moon blissfully happy because I snagged 3, count ’em THREE boxes of tea!! And two of them are from their brand spankin’ new winter tea collection!! I don’t even care that I came home with the toes of my shoes completely soaked! I picked up a box of Chocolate Spice from Whole Foods Market in Yorkville ($3.99 with a $0.50 off coupon at Whole Foods) and the other two special winter collection boxes ($3.99 each) at Essence of Life Organics health food store in Kensington Market. Chocolate Spice, Gingerbread, and Almond Biscotti!! CAN YOU TELL HOW EXCITED I AM?! Hunting for this teas was and is so much fun. Not only am I getting to know a new (to me) brand of tea, I’m also getting to know shops I’ve never been to and in the future, possibly even parts of town I’ve never even been around. Sigh. I’m so happy.
And I am not afraid to say this: free samples totally work.