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!

 

Warming the Heart and Hands with a Cup of Tea – Ate by Ate’s Top David’s Tea Picks for the “Cup of Warmth” Charity Promotion

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David's Tea

Yes, that’s right, I keep all my tea menus!

In my world, every day is a day for tea.  Most of the folks in my life start their day off with a cup of coffee but for me, I start mine off with the kettle whistling and a tea cup or tea mug raring to go.  And with January being National Hot Tea Month, the weather being so cold and David’s Tea promoting their Cup of Warmth local hunger relief charity donation, there’s never been a better time to grab and enjoy a cup of warm and soothing sweet loose leaf tea while making a difference at the same time.

On January 15, David’s Tea began their Cup of Warmth promotion nationwide, even tapping into several cities across the border, donating the loose leaf tea equivalent for every single cup of tea purchased and every single social media share of the event to a local hunger relief charity and/or food bank in every province in the country and 4 cities in the US (Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco).  For us here in Ontario, David’s Tea has linked hearts and arms with Second Harvest.  Buy a cup, give a cup.  It’s that simple.

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Their goal is to reach 150 000 cups by the end of January 28 so if you happen to be out and about and around a David’s Tea this weekend, grab a cup of your favourite flavour or try a new one to help contribute to the rising total!  And if you can’t get out to a shop, you can still get involved and help out by tweeting about it on Twitter @DAVIDsTEA and sharing it through Facebook.  Goodness knows I’ve done my share of tea drinking over the last week, trying out some new flavours and ticking them off in my current David’s Tea tea menu!  If you need some recommendations, here are my top David’s Tea picks (in no particular order!) that will warm you up and keep you toasty!

Ate by Ate’s Top David’s Tea Picks

  1. Toasted Walnut (green tea)
  2. Lime Gelato (green tea)
  3. Long Life Oolong (oolong tea that tastes like Fuzzy Peaches candy!)
  4. Birthday Cake (rooibos tea)
  5. Red Velvet Cake (black tea; quite possibly even better than red velvet cake itself)
  6. Blueberry Jam (black tea)
  7. Chocolate Rocket (mate tea; tastes like a delicious chocolate raspberry almond cake)
  8. Coco-Lemon Thai (white tea)
  9. Mango Lassi (herbal tea)
  10. Fantasy Island (black tea; the most perfect combination of raspberry and coconut, my latest favourite!)

And as for seasonal honourable mentions, try the Choconut Oolong, Coffee Cake and White Chocolate Frost from their Winter collection, they’re terrific!  Out of all the teas I’ve tried so far from David’s Tea’s permanent menu, these are my absolute favourites and I’m always finding myself wanting to default to the list of 8 teas up top.  There are so many others I need and want to try though (including Kiwi’s Big Adventure, Ceylon Star, Jessie’s Tea, Orange Blossom and their latest addition, Mint to Be!) so I have no doubt that list of 8 will grow to 10 or even 12.

Honestly, I look at my growing tea collection in my room and it makes me happy (and leaves my brother in a state of awe.  After walking into my room to pick out a tea to drink one morning, he stopped dead in his tracks and said, “oh my goodness, it’s like walking into a David’s Tea in my own house!”).  So much of my life now revolves around it (trying out recipes that would go great with a tea party menu, eating and drinking my way through afternoon tea spots in the city with my best friend and boyfriend, reading tea literature, learning about tea history, the list goes on) and it’s remarkable just how much joy it’s brought me.  Knowing this makes paying it forward, even if it’s only one cup of tea at a time, that much more meaningful.

It’s Crisp, It’s Fall, It’s a Wonderful Time for a David’s Tea Haul! Fall Tea & Wishlist Goodies

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So I’m just a teensy bit more obsessed with tea since the last time we talked.  Just a teensy bit.  I’ve been daydreaming about all the luxurious things I want to order from Harney & Sons, like the Orange Spice Gift Set with the white polka-dotted orange teapot (how freakin’ adorable is this??), white “knitted tea cozy” mug (even CUTER OMG) and about 6 tins of loose leaf tea (because, you know, I eventually want to swim in all of it).  I’ve been hemming and hawwing over what flavours of tea to order from Tea at the White House (I’ve been putting things in and taking things out of my shopping cart for DAYS now – this is why being an indecisive person is the pits!).  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks researching tea houses all across our beautiful province of Ontario and keeping a run list in a word document on my desktop and freaking out my boyfriend with discussions of GO bus rides to Cambridge (“you’ll come with me, right?  RIGHT??”).  Oh, and I have an order of tea magazines from Tea Times and Victoria Bliss from Hoffman’s Media on route to my magical mail box and I am so darn excited I could burst!

So I’m totally just a teensy bit more obsessed.

I know.  There really is no saving me.  Sigh.

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Tea has become such a passion of mine and I am loving it.  I have such sweet memories of drinking tea with my grandparents and playing with tea sets my aunt gave me as a little girl but I feel like I’ve been introduced to a whole new and exciting world these past few years learning about and experimenting with it (getting the perfect cup each and every single time is quite the task – it’s seriously an art all on its own!), discovering tea houses, looking up events, and just immersing myself in the fun of it all.  Which is why this little David’s Tea haul of mine is only just the beginning!  I had to use every ounce of willpower not to pick up every last thing I wanted from their adorable fall collection because 1) part of me dreaded having to carry the heavier items on the subway and bus rides back home, and 2) I really wanted to be a good friend and wait for my bestie to go crazy tea shopping  with me.  What fun would it be if I bought everything on my wishlist and just stood around the next time we went frolicking?  I think ahead, people.

I am dying to get the so-cute-it-makes-you-squeal forest animals tea mug and the cute-as-a-button bubble tea cups from David’s Tea’s fall collection as well as some loose leaf of Blueberry Jam, Long Life Oolong and Lime Gelato, but I was a good girl and stuck to picking up a bottle of their vanilla agave, 50 g of their new Cocoberry tea and 2 packets of their Mom’s Apple Pie tea along with their snazzy new fall tea menu!  And yes, that is my ultra-cool, super awesome sparkly pumpkin prop in the photo!  Hee!

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I haven’t tried my apple pie one yet but I have tried the Cocoberry one and what attracted me most at first was its chocolate-raspberry scent.  It smelled so luscious and decadent.  Its taste was so much more complex than just a simple chocolate-raspberry combo though.  For those who love the taste of currants with a subtle hint of cocoa and chocolate, this tea is for you.  The currant flavour comes out very strong in this tea and if you find it a little on the tart side, sweeten it up with a little bit of sweetener.  It’s not your typical berry tea as it’s much more earthy in flavour and that’s what I actually appreciate about it.  Berry teas have never sat well with my tastebuds because I’ve always found them to be either too sour or too artificial in taste, but this one is different from anything I’ve ever tried so if you love currants, go for it and try it out!

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For a list of all David’s Tea locations in and around Toronto, check out their store locator HERE (they are constantly expanding!).  So far I’ve been to these locations:

  • 336 Queen St. W (just east of Spadina)
  • 2389 Yonge St. (intersection of Yonge & Eglinton; north of Eglinton)
  • 10 Dundas Street E. (Yonge & Dundas; it’s actually just north of Dundas facing Yonge St.)
  • 100 King Street West (First Canadian Place in the underground PATH)
  • 424 Bloor Street West (in the Annex, between Spadina and Bathurst)
  • Yorkdale Shopping Centre (Dufferin & Hwy 401)
  • Dufferin Mall (intersection of Dufferin Street and Bloor Street West, just south of Bloor)
  • Scarborough Town Centre (between McCowan and Brimley Rd. off Hwy 401)
  • Promenade Mall, Thornhill (Bathurst and Centre St.) 

The Beginning of a Beautiful Tea Friendship – Loose Leaf Tea, Accessories, Collections & 5 Things I Love About Teavana Tea!

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Forget clothes and Christmas shopping – I think I’m going to spend all my money on tea!  Between the Four O’Clock tea collection, David’s Tea, Steeped & Infused and afternoon tea sessions around the city, I’m going to be pinching pennies come January!  And if that wasn’t enough to scare my piggy bank into hiding, I’ve recently fallen head over heels for the teas and accessories at Teavana.  For those of you who live in Markham on my side of the pond, you probably already know this but for those who don’t, I’ll tell you: Markville mall has been undergoing a massive renovation for the past year.  The floor and ceiling has been ripped up, shops have been relocated and remodeled, and a slew of new ones have taken up residence in the brand spankin’ new and shiny shopping centre.

While the mall is still only about halfway through its makeover, many new stores have called Markville home for the past several months and that includes our very own Teavana!  Off the top of my head, I know Hillcrest Mall has a Teavana but that’s the only other location I’ve visited so until I scope out their other locations, the shop at Markville is definitely my go-to from here on out.  It didn’t take long for me to hop onboard the Teavana love boat; I have two bags of loose leaf tea, Wild Orange Blossom (herbal) and Samurai Chai Mate (mate), sitting pretty in my kitchen tea cupboard and many other teas, sets, and accessories on my wish list!  Here are 5 things I’m loving about Teavana and their teas:

1) The Flavour – I’ve had full cups of their Samurai Chai Mate and their Peach Tranquility and a number of their samples in-store and I am honestly sold.  Their tea is so fresh, crisp, and clean.  It has such an incredible pure taste and flavour to it.  That’s not to say that other teas are mucky though!  All this means is that you can truly taste the quality of the tea because it’s that noticeable.  Drinking the tea is like drinking tea from a sparkling waterfall, only steeped and flavoured and, well, tea!

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2) The Collections and Tea Sets – OH.MY.GOD.  When it comes to tea (and many other things in life), I am all over collections and sets like frosting on a cupcake!  I love the special packaging, I love the special limited edition bonuses, and I love getting more bang for my buck.  While it can be frustrating when collections are limited edition with a shelf-life in stores (the MAC Cosmetics addict in me knows this feeling), I love them nevertheless because they’re always jazzed up and special.

Teavana has so many different collections that I am so in love with including their Sweet Decadence Tea Gift Set (a collection devoted to dessert teas with shiny chocolate brown tea cups!), their Exotic Blends Iced Tea Collection (a fruity tutti mish mash of delicious tropical fruit teas made for icy drink delights including flavours like strawberry lemonade, pineapple, peach, and more), their Global Treasures Collection (17 new teas!), and their latest collection just for the holidays: 12 HoliDays of Tea, 12 holiday-inspired teas in tins and in a special holiday box!  *prances around the room*  I’m so happy.  And I’ll be more happy when I can get my hands on some of these!

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3) The Samples In-Store – Who can say no to delicious samples?!  Teavana is ridiculous when it comes to their sampling.  There are 5 samples in-store to try at any one time and they are all yummy and really great at showcasing the depth of flavour in their selection.  There are fruity samples, floral ones, herbal ones, and even iced ones and they cater to different tastes and preferences for those who are tea die-hards and for those who are still tip-toe around it, not really loving or hating tea one way or another.

I always love the way their samples show the tea’s versatility.  Many of their samples are teas that have been combined with one another and that’s something that I never thought to do all this time!  I’ve always used only flavour of tea at one time but their samples show how amazing the teas can taste when two teas are combined into one.  It’s a heightening of flavour, an enhancement, and a very cool way of playing around with the different types of tea and being a bit of a mixologist!

4) Tea Accessories – Teavana is known for their beautiful tea Japanese fabric tins, their tea pots and tea cups, and their cast iron accessories.  I am all over their gorgeous jewel-tone chubby tea tins (I’ve been eyeing the cerulean blue one for weeks now!), and their taller cylindrical fabric tins are a work of art because they look like they’ve been wrapped in fabric modeled after origami paper.  And the collector in me cannot wait to snatch up some of those beautiful tea pots and tea cups, especially seeing how adorable mismatched china and tea dishes can be at parties and afternoon teas!

5) Personal wishlist – I can’t talk tea without making a wishlist!  Here’s a list of Teavana teas that I’m dying to add to my ever-growing collection tea: Snow Geisha (a white tea with cherries and cranberries), Slimful Chocolate Decadence (Oolong), Toasted Nut Brûlée (Oolong), Cocoa Praline Tart (Rooibos), Honeybush Vanilla (Herbal), and so many more!

This is just the beginning of a beautiful tea friendship.

Adorable Tea Cups, Dishes, & Saucers and Enough Tea Sandwiches & Sweets to Last a Week! Afternoon Tea at Le Dolci!

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I always knew I enjoyed tea (I thank all those weekend dim sum brunch meals growing up for that!), but I never thought I’d love it and engage with it as much as I do now.  I drink tea every morning when I come into work (it’s such a delight rotating between my current 5 loose leaf packets from Steeped & Infused), I keep up with seasonal flavours, I read tea books, I love marrying cupcakes with a cup of hot tea, and I am absolutely amoured by tea time and afternoon teas!  The atmosphere, the food, the beautiful accessories, porcelain and china; the dining experience it affords is in a league of it own.  My dream would be to attend every imaginable afternoon tea in the land – I would be so happy!  I think my obsession with tea is definitely nearing its peak and I really don’t see it waning any time soon.

So I indulged my warm and fuzzy feelings for afternoon tea with a special Sunday afternoon tea at Le Dolci’s sweet studio!  Soft music floating in the background, adorable tea cups, saucers, and dishes, and over 5 different types of decadent desserts among other delectable eats – afternoon tea at Le Dolci is as sweet as it gets!  I was so, so excited when I found out Lisa and the team would be doing afternoon tea sessions at their new studio on Dundas West back in August.  I knew the experience would be really fun, different, and yummy, but I also knew that this was something really personal and special to Lisa.  After living and working in the UK for a decade, the tea bug is bound to bite you one way or another if you haven’t been bitten already!  Lisa, Miya, and I used to drink tea together all the time when I was interning at the studio and we’d always Ooo and ahh over sweet accessories we would find.  Aside from cupcakes and sweets, tea was a common love and it just made everything that much more mellow and relaxed when we took that time to savour it and enjoy it.

I was so excited to see what Lisa would have in store for this tea session.  Afternoon teas, held on Sundays (keep in mind that afternoon teas aren’t held every Sunday at this point though, they just happen to fall on Sundays when they are made available on the class schedule as opposed to Fridays or Saturdays for instance) from 12pm – 2pm, are non-instructional sessions that are open to anyone and everyone with a love for sweets and tea!  Non-instructional simply means that the afternoon tea is purely a “come in and stuff your face while having a lot of fun!” type of session.  There’s no workshop or seminar, no demo or crafting of anything ; it’s just pure enjoyment of food and drink.

Teas are priced at $35/person and spaces must be booked in advance, either by phone or through their website via the class schedule.  Now, I had a brain fart when I first booked my spot because I mixed myself up and thought the entire tea took 2 hours, but the 12pm-2pm tea time is completely flexible!  So long as you’ve booked your spot you’re welcome to start your tea at 12:30pm, 1pm, whatever floats your boat (within reason – obviously if you show up at a quarter to two, that’s not going to fly!) and subsequently, you can finish up any time within those 2 hours.  You simply need to book your spot in advance so Lisa and her team can plan out their tea menu and know exactly how much food to make so nothing goes to waste and so they can make sure everything is ready to go the morning of for the freshest baked goods and eats.

Beautiful sunlight streamed through the studio’s front display window and the big, long, stainless steel worktable was decked out in a white tablecloth with tea cups and saucers, milk and sugar, and small dishes to enjoy our nibbles!  The dishes and accessories were so darn gorgeous.  Enjoying the food on such pretty tableware was half the fun!  Some of these dishes were special antiques and works of art from the UK (that dish featured in the first photo?  Hand-painted!), while others were just nifty pick-ups around town.  The crazy tea accessory lover in me was lapping all this up like an eager puppy!

Okay, so what does afternoon tea at Le Dolci entail?  Hot loose leaf tea from Tealish (4 flavours on hand including Sweetie Pie, Earl Grey Classic, Sencha Organic green tea, and Peppermint!), 4 different kinds of tea sandwiches on multi-grain bread with the crusts cut off (but of course!), and literally enough sweets and baked goods to last you an entire week – no joke!  The awesome thing about the tea specifically is that you can try different kinds!  Lisa will brew a pot of whatever flavour you want at first, but if you decide that you want to try a different one middway through, she can brew another one.  Granted, I wouldn’t start asking for all 4 flavours, but it’s fine if you want to sip on another one later on in the tea.

Another thing I really loved was the sheer volume of food!  All afternoon teas are based on a per person count, but holy bejeebus, after my boyfriend and I polished off our sandwich plate with 8 portions, Lisa came by and plopped another plate of 4 in front of us!  That’s 6 sandwiches in total, 3 per person (each portion is half a sandwich).  I don’t know about you, but I have never eaten 3 sandwiches plus sweets plus a bajillion cups of tea.  I knew there would be leftovers (gut intuition) so I came prepared and brought tupperware.  It came in handy!  That day, we were given an assortment of roast beef with mustard, smoked salmon, ham, and a fantastic egg salad with crunchy green onions!  You all know I love smoked salmon to pieces, but I have to say, I loved the ham and egg salad ones a lot too!  So simple yet so good.

And the sweets.  Oh, the sweets.  Full-size frosted cupcakes (vanilla with coffee frosting and chocolate with vanilla frosting), mini cupcakes (vanilla and coffee), biscotti, little scones (cheddar and dried fruit ones), brownie squares, lemon coconut squares, macarons (coconut and strawberry), and lamingtons, an Australian and New Zealand dessert made of sponge cake and coated in chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut!  Did you get all that?!  It was such a great varied assortment and there were so many different things to try!  I loved the variety and if I had to choose, my favourites would have to be the lemon coconut squares, the cupcakes with coffee frosting, and the macarons!

It was a really fun, sweet afternoon tea and I’m so happy Lisa decided to have it as part of her fun foodie line-up.  I genuinely enjoyed all the food we were given and it’s just nice being in the studio surrounded by yummy smells and great people.  I am no doubt coming back for more – the leftovers are just the icing on the cake!

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Le Dolci brand new studio is located at 1006 Dundas Street West, right at the corner of Dundas West and Montrose Ave. The studio is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park and are open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Not Time to Say Goodbye to Leslieville Just Yet – Tea, Chocolate, & the BIG Moving Sale at Steeped & Infused!

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Everyone loves sales.  Who doesn’t love a money-saving opportunity?  But sometimes, even the all-mighty sale is met with a little bit of sadness.  This past weekend I found out to my dismay that my favourite tea shop in the city, Steeped & Infused, was holding a gigantic, blow-out sale because they were packing up shop in Leslieville and moving.  Where to?  We’re not sure yet.  But for those of you who love tea and want to take advantage of a million more “pinkies up!” at half price, Steeped & Infused will still be around at Queen East and Hastings Ave. until September 23rd so mark your calendar, jot it down on a sticky note, do whatever you have to do to remember it so you don’t miss out! 

I know for a fact that I’ll be coming back one more time before they move because while it would be the fantastical thing ever if they stayed in downtown Toronto, who knows, the shop might  end up in Missausauga.  And if it does, I will cry.  So I’m crossing my fingers that wherever the new location will be, it’ll still be accessible.  Because I love this tea shop and refuse to entertain the thought of not having some of my favourite tea flavours in my life. 

This past weekend, I almost had myself a heart attack when I saw their bright red “Moving Sale!  50% Off!” sign in their front window.  Partly because I was ecstatic to buy copious amounts of tea at a discounted rate, but also because I almost mistook the sign as an honest-to-goodnss closing as opposed to a move, but thankfully I calmed down long enough to realize it wasn’t actually dooms day.  Because if I hadn’t, I think I would have have made quite the spectacle out of myself. 

I took some photos of the tea shop and cafe for old times sake to both memorialize a wonderful space that has given me some of the yummiest teas and to show off the shop as a renovated cafe (remember when it was sans the tables, chairs, and treats and instead filled with giftware and tea sets?) with beautiful colours and artwork adorning its walls.  All the loose leaf teas are 50% off and because they’re selling out so quickly from the sale, if they no longer have the flavour you want in stock, it’ll most likely come in a future shipment before the shop packs up and moves.  If I remember correctly, I was told that their next shipment would be this Wednesday, so definitely plan a trip to the cfae this coming long weekend to snatch some stuff up. 

My favourite sample baggies are also on sale for a ridiculous $1 each!  I could gush on and on and on about these sample baggies.  While their coconut almond rooibos is my true blue favourite, I love trying multiple flavours and the sample baggies allow me (and everyone else) to have SO much fun trying different teas and switching things up based on what my tastebuds feel like.  Let me tell you, I was on cloud nine as I splurged on my tea shopping spree.  I picked up 5 different loose leaf tea baggies and I can’t wait to drink to my heart’s content!  My bladder won’t be too amused about the non-stop tea parties, but my tastebuds sure will! 

I picked up a baggie of my favourite coconut almond rooibos, green and white pear cream green tea (this one is also amazing!), green and white mango green tea, Canadian blueberry rooibos, and a strawberry kiwi fruit tisane which smells so heavenly good you want to eat the tea mixture straight out of the tin.  5 teas, $5!  In addition, they have some great tea infused chocolate in 3 or 4 tasty flavours and because I just couldn’t pass it up, I picked up a square of milk Belgian chocolate infused with passionfruit green tea and a square of white Belgian chocolate infused with matcha!

If you haven’t paid a visit to Steeped & Infused before, I urge you to do it before they move and if you’re a current fan like me, take advantage and go one last time.  I’ll keep everyone updated when I know any more information about where their new location will be, but don’t hesitate to dig for a little info yourself.  They’ll be posting updates on their Twitter @steepedinfused and let’s hope that they stay within sipping distance!  

*****

Steeped & Infused is located at 1258 Queen Street East in Leslieville, at the corner of Queen Street East and Hastings Ave.  The shop and cafe will continue to operate at this location until September 23, 2012 at which time they will be move (new location TBD).  They also have a mini location inside a store called Adornments on Queen at 338 Queen Street East.  They are open 6 days a week from 11am-7pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 11am-6pm on Fridays, 10:30am-6pm on Saturdays, and 11:30am-5pm on Sundays.  The shop is closed on Mondays.  You can visit their website here and follow them on Twitter @steepedinfused.

Tea & Cupcakes for One – Fruity Peach Green Tea, Mango Cupcakes, & Pink Tea Pots at The Wedding Cake Shoppe

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My love of tea has finally reached its peak – and I think it’s going to enjoy its reign up at the top of my “Things I Love Dearly” list for a long time!  I am happy to report that I am now drinking tea 5 days a week (sometimes 6; it varies) and that I’ve developed a nice little routine for myself the same way java fanatics gulp down their coffee in the morning.  I’ve been alternating between coconut green tea, sticky toffee pudding, and my cute little box of Celestial Seasoning fruit flavours in blueberry, raspberry, black cherry, and country peach. 

Never did I think I would love tea this much though.  Growing up, my only brush with tea was at dim sum restaurants.  Then bubble tea and loose leaf tea entered my world and everything changed.  I daydream about the type of tea I’m going to get during my next tea run.  I keep up with all the new seasonal flavours that come out, ready to be sniffed from their canisters and sipped from mugs and tea cups.  And like clothes and accessories, I coordinate and match my tea to my cupcakes.  It’s not an obsession, it’s enthusiasm!

So, for the first time ever, I am posting about cupcakes without actually talking about cupcakes.  All I will say is that Wedding Cake Shoppe’s fruity mango cream cupcake on vanilla is delightful and like mango mousse on vanilla clouds.  My dear sweet cupcakes will just have to share the spotlight on this one because the tea is clearly the star of the show!  Make way for the sweet and lovely peach green tea and mango cupcake from The Wedding Cake Shoppe!

My previous Wedding Cake Shoppe posts solely focused on cupcakes, scrapbooking, and beautiful decor and while all of those things still play a huge part in my personal Wedding Cake Shoppe experience, I am absolutely smitten with their loose leaf tea.  I KNOW.  Tea.  And cupcakes.  With cupcakes.  At a wedding cake shop.  I love Toronto.  Given how the shop has ample space and seating, it’s totally feasible to sit down with a cuppa and cupcake (or macaron!  Or all three if you’re feeling adventurous) for a quiet, peaceful afternoon.  Their drink menu is actually pretty awesome as it consists of coffee drinks (americanos for $2, lattes and cappuccinos for $3.25), homemade hot chocolate ($3.50), cold glasses of milk at $2.50 (perfect for the milk and chocolate enthusiasts at heart!), and LOTS of loose leaf tea!  Priced at $2.25, flavours include earl grey, chamomile, green sencha, English breakfast, chai raspberry, fruit explosion, peppermint, jasmine, vanilla rooibos, and my beloved pick, peach green tea.

I love the fact that Cindy and Sarah serve tea and drinks at their shop to go along with their cupcakes and macarons, yes, BUT, what I love even more?  THE TEA PRESENTATION AND ACCESSORIES!  The shop is all colour, freshness, sweetness, and beauty so I shouldn’t have expected any less when it came to their tea and drinks (just look at the gorgeous, dainty pink plate that accompanied my chocolate banana cream pie cupcake the last time!), but I was still taken aback by how fabulous their tea “service” was!  I didn’t get my tea in a paper cup.  I didn’t even get my tea in a mug.  I got my piping hot peach green tea in a freakin’ adorable pink and gold tea pot/teacup set!  You know, the type of tea pot that looks like a whole teapot but is really the kind that has a tea cup for a bottom?  Yes, one of those.  And when I gushed to Sarah about how cute the tea pot was, she told me her and Cindy find great accessories along Queen West so there you go!

It was like getting the 5-star treatment.  And for $2.25?!  Jackpot!  Peach green tea is my favourite cold bubble tea to get when I’m out and this hot loose-leaf version didn’t disappoint.  It was an amazing fruity tea that tasted just like bubble tea but hot.  It didn’t have a gritty aftertaste, it certainly didn’t taste like diluted flavoured hot water, and it was bright, crisp, and delicious with my sweet and creamy mango cupcake.  Even though Cindy and Sarah are up to their eyeballs in wedding orders and cake decorating, they really do a fantastic job with making every visit to their shop a memorable, happy experience and that is what’s so special to me.  I mean, seriously, every single time I’m there new fresh flowers in vases are sitting on every table, the shop is immaculate, and every visit feels like a fresh start.  Cupcakes and tea aren’t just food and drink to me; they mean so much more when you enjoy them in a welcoming atmoshphere that is beautiful on the inside and out.      

*****

The Wedding Cake Shoppe is located at 859 College Street, just west of Ossington Ave.  They are open 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays) and their weekday hours are from 11am-7pm, weekend hours from 11am-5pm.  You can check out their official website here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.