Toronto Tea Lovers, Celebrate with Tea – Support & Shop Local with The Sugared Teacup’s *NEW* Tea Gift Box Business!

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IT’S ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!!!!!!!!  Ate by Ate’s sister, The Sugared Teacup, (http://www.thesugaredteacup.com) has been preoccupied for the last little while for a veeeery good reason and the news is out: THE SUGARED TEACUP IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!!  The Sugared Teacup has partnered with many of Toronto’s finest local tea shops and businesses to give you a “Taste of Toronto” tea-style for the holidays and hopefully into the new year and beyond with SPECIAL THEMED TEA BOXES!

I’m beyond ecstatic and excited and nervous and every other crazy emotion imaginable because this is my baby.  The Sugared Teacup is no longer just a blog; it’s a business idea and brand that I have put my heart and soul into for months and I am overjoyed that I can watch it grow with the love and support from the community – the blogging community, the tea community, our local community, and so many others.

Okay, so before I dive in and give everyone the details on how make a purchase, I want to explain how this all came about from the very beginning.  Back in September, I was laying in bed when I was suddenly struck with an idea: how great would it be to start a tea box subscription business with the local tea shops and businesses?!  Subscription box services have been growing in popularity over the last number of years.  Everything from organic food, cosmetics, stationery, and books can be delivered to your doorstep every month in a fun and unique package of goodies.  Tea boxes have definitely been a part of the fun so while I knew this was not a new idea and that I certainly wasn’t re-inventing the wheel by thinking about this, I knew I wanted to put my own mark on it and make it different from anything else out there.  So I got to work.

How are The Sugared Teacups’s Tea Boxes (“Sugared Tea Boxes”!) different?  It’s all about keeping everything local.  As I’m envisioning this idea unfold as time goes on, I absolutely want to involve other tea businesses (and tea-related businesses!) in Ontario and the rest of Canada but for the time being, this idea has its roots in Toronto – literally.  There are many tea box businesses out there that operate in many different ways.  Some use smart technology to determine what type of tea drinker you are by having you take a survey and they base their monthly selections on that profile.  Other businesses send a surprise box each month.  And others focus and introduce their subscribers to different brands and businesses from across the globe, all the while sourcing their own teas.  The Sugared Teacup tea boxes are all about 1) supporting Toronto tea businesses, 2) giving tea lovers lots of fun and variety, and 3) allowing everyone to try teas they wouldn’t normally go out of their way to try.

When I was chewing on this idea back in September, I thought about why I loved the idea so much and why others would too.  Not only is this a huge creative outlet for me (I decorate and personalize every box!  The crafting scrapbook princess in me is so ridiculously happy right now!), the tea boxes target some of the issues some people face when it comes to tea and shopping for it.  For example, some are deterred from ordering online because they need to spend x amount of dollars for free shipping, otherwise they could be spending more on shipping than they are on the tea.  Now this wouldn’t be an issue for those who are dedicated to a specific brand or business.  However, I know there are many who don’t want to spend so much on teas they may not like in such large quantities (for example, in 50g or 100g quantities).  These tea boxes give you the variety and the opportunity to try many teas in smaller amounts.  Some teas come in full size (there are some in special tins!), but the majority of the teas come in smaller pouches so instead of hemming and hawwwing over trying to choose 1 or 2 full size teas at full price, you get at least 5 teas in adorable packaging!

There are also many people who love tea but are unadventurous in their exploration of the city.  I know there are folks who’ve never even ridden the subway or streetcar!  So the likeliness of them discovering these different tea shops and business is very low.  There are SO MANY amazing tea shops and businesses here in Toronto so these boxes give everyone the chance to get to know them without having to schlep out there visiting 6 different places or feeling overwhelmed and not having a clue what they should try or feeling uncertain of what they might like.  I blog so I do this anyway for a living!  And because I love doing it.  Not to mention I’m used to choosing teas for people who don’t know what they want (like my brother!  And my mom!  And others!).  But not everyone is going to wake up at the crack of dawn to haul their tooshie out to buy tea.  I do the work for you by putting together a fantastic box of tea based on your preferences (more about that below), giving you a “taste of Toronto”.  Because at the heart of it, that’s what this is!  I kept thinking to myself, “well, for me, I would LOVE it if I could try a bunch of local teas from say, Vancouver.  Or Nova Scotia.  Or Seattle.  Or anywhere!”  I wish someone could send me a box of teas like that.  So I thought, “well, why don’t I do that for Toronto?”

And that is how The Sugared Teacup Tea Boxes were born!

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In a nutshell, I’m offering 6 different themed tea boxes (as well as a special Earl Grey Lovers box!): black tea, green tea, mixed teas (black, green, rooibos), herbal/rooibos/caffeine-free, fruity teas, and dessert teas.  You choose the type of box(es) you’d like and I put together a fabulous selection of teas from all the wonderful shops and businesses based on this selection!  It’s that easy!

This is the soft launch for the holidays, meaning if it does well, I’ll be growing the business by offering subscriptions and shipping across the country (and maybe the US if I can make it work!).  FOR THE HOLIDAY SOFT LAUNCH THOUGH, I am keeping it entirely local, meaning Markham and Toronto pick-ups and drop-offs for tea box purchases.  

Head on over to the Tea Boxes page on The Sugared Teacup’s menu bar (http://www.thesugaredteacup.com/teaboxes) to fill out a form to make a purchase – I have a BLACK FRIDAY WEEK INTRODUCTION PROMOTION GOING ON THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!  All online transactions will be handled using PayPal.  If you’re uncomfortable purchasing online or if you would prefer to not use PayPal and pay in cash, please feel free to download an order form using the PDF file link at the bottom of the Tea Boxes page; you can e-mail me at thesugaredteacup@hotmail.com telling me what selections and quantities you’d like and you can simply bring me a hard copy of the form for receipt purposes upon pick-up and drop off.

I’ve been working really hard to turn this idea, dream, and passion into a reality and I am SO thankful and grateful for the tea shops and businesses that have so graciously jumped on board with it!  (Check out the Tea Boxes page to see which tea shops and businesses I’ve partnered with so far!).  This is just the beginning of a crazy new chapter in The Sugared Teacup’s journey and I am so happy and excited to have you all be a part of it.  SUPPORT LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL!  Let the games begin!

 

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A Library of Cookbooks and Kitchen Accessories from A-Z! Good Egg in Kensington Market

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A is for apple, B is for bagel, C is for cupcake, D is for doughnut, E is escarole, F is for funnel cake, and G is for…Good Egg in Kensington Market!  You were afraid I was going to recite this through the entire alphabet weren’t you?  I had to do it considering one of my favourite items in this fantastic foodie, kitchen accessory store is a framed poster of an adorable alphabet of food and cooking items that I very much want to hang on my own wall at home! 

I fell in love with Good Egg the second I walked up to the storefront and peered in through the giant glass window display.  I saw baking books, cute stationery, cookbooks, and bright coloured paper flower ornaments hanging from the ceiling and thought, “where have I been all this time?!”  All this time I thought Blue Banana was my primary foodie haven in Kensington Market.  I was wrong.  Good Egg is so much more than I ever could have expected and I am so happy I decided to walk in on whim.

Good Egg is a wonderfully fun, whimsical shop devoted to food and cooking with everything you could possibly want in a foodie establishment, mixing the contemporary with retro and vintage, and function, practicality, and education with creativity and inspiration.   Although their classes are currently on break until their kitchen renovations are completed later on this year, Good Egg host classes such a knife skills, butchering, and other cooking related workshops and demos. 

Their function and practicality stems from the cooking tools and accessories they sell.  Don’t let the cutesy home decor items fool you; Good Egg is serious about spreading the love of food and cooking and making it less intimidating and more accessible by carrying colourful kitchen utensils such as spatulas, ladles, wooden spoons, mortar and pestles, and silicone whisks, salad bowls, and cutting boards; fun aprons and cloth linens; heavy duty baking dishes, roasting pans, butter dishes, and skillets; tea and tea accessories; and salt and pepper grinders among many other items.

The fun and whimsical is clearly apparent from their home decor items and giftware, right down to the bow tie mugs, heart-shaped egg shapers, and patterned cupcake wrappers!  I was head over heels in love with this too-cute-for-words baby fawn soap pump, bright coloured tea pots, gorgeous patterned napkins and tea towels (one of these days I will have my own linen closet filled to the brim with them!), and the aforementioned mugs with the patterned bow ties and bold colourful stripes.  The shop is incredibly neat and organized, divided into different sections making everything easily accessible and simple to shop around and find.

What really makes Good Egg stand out though is their food library!  The book lover in me was in conniptions over this!  Floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with cookbooks and coffee table food books occupy half the shop and within these shelves you’ll find gloriuous reading material dedicated to everything from food and herb planting znd gardening, veganism and vegetarian cuisine, baking, wine, butchering, wild foods and foraging, roasting, braising, food science, cultural cuisines, and plenty of Food Network celebrity cookbooks from chefs such Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes.

Their library of books is the heart and soul for me because it showcases the interrelationships and connections between the historical and the present, and the local and the global.  These books highlight social food movements, classic cooking techniques that have stood the test of time, molecular gastronomy, nature’s bounty, and the pure joy and love of cooking and food exploration.  Its location within Kensington Market makes it all the more fitting because it lends itself to the neighbourhood’s unabashed organic personality.  There are hundreds of reasons why I love Kensington Market and why it’s my favourite neighbourhood in the city.  And I think I’ve found another hundred reasons to add to that list in Good Egg alone.

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Good Egg is located at 267 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market, south of College Street and west of Spadina Ave.  You can keep up-to-date with their classes, events, and news on their website here or follow them on Twitter @goodeggnews.

Deb’s New Morning Haunt – Coffee, Tea, and Beautiful Country Kitchen Gifts and Goodies at La Merceria

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Thanks to Lisa from Le Dolci, I am now aware of this beautiful gem of a coffee, tea, and giftwares shop!  I felt so silly the first time Lisa took me here because it’s located on a street I’ve been on a number of times and in a downtown neighbourhood I’m not entirely unfamiliar with.  Located near the intersection of Adelaide Street West and Portland Street (just east of Bathurst), La Merceria sits snuggly beside Sadie’s Diner and is wedged neatly between the Fashion Districts of King and Queen.  With a few mannequins standing in the storefront window draped with pretty scarves, I completely mistook the shop for being a hip clothing boutique and always strolled past, conveniently averting my eyes so as to not tempt myself with more pretty things.  I love accessories and clothes, yes, but we’re in the downtown core here; I want to come home with something in my wallet.  I often avoid independent boutiques like the plague not because I don’t want to own all the gorgeous garments they have to offer, but because window shopping in such shops just makes me heart whimper a little.

So when Lisa took me here, I was shocked out of my pants to find out that La Merceria was in fact not a clothing boutique but was instead a fusion of 1) a gift shop, 2) a kitchen housewares store, and 3) a coffee and tea cafe with drinks and food.  I could have died right there on the spot.  It walked in and it was like a halo of light floated around me.  This cafe and shop is beautiful.  So country chic, so bright and clean, and so wonderfully cozy.  Think wood floors, wood chairs, wood tea tables, cushiony seats and pillows, brilliant sunlight streaming through the front windows and door, and shelves and tables lined and stocked with some of the most adorable kitchen housewares, accesssories, stationery, and gifts imaginable. 

It’s perfect for the cafe lover, droolworthy for those in love with interior decorating, and just dangerous for the kitchen accessory fanatic.  Oh, this was bad.  This might have been even worse than a clothing boutique.  And all because I couldn’t stop ogling the lavender and powder blue tea cups, dishes, and tea towels.  Oh, and the tote bags in the back of the shop.  And the cute stationery.  And the rest of the shop.

As Lisa informed me, the owners of La Merceria hail from Argentina and many of the drinks, artwork, and interior design and decorating in the shop show off this cultural heritage.  I can’t wait to show you guys more of the food and coffee drinks they have here in future posts; I may not be a coffee drinker but I’m sure I can make an exception every once in awhile 😉  They have both hot and chilled coffee drinks (lattes, americanos, espressos, mochas, and more) and they also have lemonades and In terms of food, think more along the lines of light breakfast and lunch, snacks, and tea time with crunchy cream cheese toasted bagels, quiche pies, salads, sandwiches, small baguettes and biscuits, cookies and sweets, and vegan, dairy and nut-free desserts from Sweets From the Earth.  I am so excited to actually have some food here.  The quiches, biscuit cookies, and cute biscuit sandwiches were calling my name!

For the time being though, my favourite thing to do here (aside from staring at all the pretty things I want to buy) is to sit down at one of the lovely wooden tables by the front with the squishy cushions behind me with a hot cup of tea.  They serve a selection of yummy Tealish teas and thus far I’ve had their Sweetie Pie Rooibos and Tahitian Moon Vanilla Rooibos and between the two I’m definitely in love with the Sweetie Pie!  What I absolutely adore about La Merceria and their “tea”ness is how they serve it!  The tea is served in giant glass or ceramic mugs on a dish with a little spoon (to stir with or to add honey or sugar) and the cutest little shortbread cookie biscuit!  This biscuit with my tea just makes my morning.  I may not have been to every cafe in town, but I can assure you that no other place I’ve been to serves their tea like this.  It makes me so giddy and I love starting my morning this way.  It’s the kind of place you envision yourself having a sunny bite in or a great coffee or tea date.  It’s so peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful being here and I love it.  This, my lovelies, is my new morning haunt.

 

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La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street West by the northwest corner of Adelaide and Portland Street, east of Bathurst.  La Merceria is located beside Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar.  Visit their website and blog here for updates, info, promos, events, pictures, and contact information and visit their Facebook page here.