I’m a Little Teapot, Plump & Cute, Here are the Cupcakes, Here is My Spout – The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 002

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What’s better than an adorable teapot?  An adorable teapot with CUPCAKES on it!  When I found this teapot at HomeSense during a recent trip to the mall, I wanted to squeal out loud.  I mean, c’mon, two of my favourite things in life combined into one pretty package!  What are the odds?  There was no possible way a cupcake and tea-loving girl like myself could resist.  But by some sheer force of who knows what, I managed to convince myself that while I loved it and wanted it, I didn’t reeeally need it.  I knew buying this teapot would undoubtedly open up a can of worms whereby I would never be able to resist another cute teapot again (I’m exaggerating a little for dramatic effect; I do have some willpower and self-restraint!).  So I reluctantly walked away from it.  That day.  Judging by these photos you can clearly tell I caved and went back for it!  I don’t regret it all all, it makes me feel all light and fluffy inside every time I look at it.

I’ve been absolutely smitten with cute teapots and teaware to go along with my ever-growing tea collection over the past year so I was beaming from ear to ear when I carried it home in my shopping bag and added it to my small but cute collection.  It gives me so much inspiration for possible party and menu themes and photoshoot ideas.  And it looks quite dapper beside my other tinier teapot dressed in bright red if I do say so myself.  The red one says “Keep Calm and Drink Tea”; a fine statement to live by indeed.

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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!

Samurai Chai Mate

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!

Wild Orange Blossom

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.

It’s Tea Time! Colourful Accessories, Holiday Brightness, and Coconut Almond Rooibos at Steeped & Infused

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I’ve been excited about the upcoming holiday season for awhile now, but something has really ignited my creative fire over the last few days and now I can’t get the Christmas season out of my head!  I’m thinking about all the cookies I want to bake, all the cupcakes I want to decorate, the craft projects I want to do (and speaking of which, I am so horribly behind on my scrapbooking for the blog it’s pathetic), and all the places in the city I want to visit, food-related and otherwise.  I love Christmas so much and there’s nothing like walking past city streets decorated to the nines with Christmas lights, wreaths, and beautiful, intricate storefronts that might as well be featured on a holiday themed runway.  I think about ice skating and I think about cupping my mittened hands around warm drinks, especially tea! 

Tea is my comfort drink and over the past three years, I’ve been overjoyed with all the different flavours and types that I’ve been able to try at different tea places around the city.  An old friend of mine got me hooked on David’s Tea a few years ago, I attended my very first afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel last year, and I finally introduced my tastebuds to Tealish over the summer.  I’m constantly finding out about sweet little tea shops for loose-leaf teas and the one tea discovery that has stuck with me for months now has been Steeped & Infused.

The very first time I drank tea from Steeped & Infused was actually almost a year ago in The Distillery District!  For those of you who have followed me on the blog since the very beginning, do you remember my Christmas in the Distillery District posts from last December?  Remember the gorgeous, gigantic Christmas tree, wreaths, and jaw-droppingly adorable life-size gingerbread house from Sweet Escape Patisserie?  It was all part of the beautiful Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District last year, and Steeped & Infused was there with some much needed hot tea and warmth during those cold winter days!  During my visit to the market, I bought a little 10g packet of loose-leaf coconut almond rooibos from their  amazing collection and selection and it quickly became one of my favourite teas ever.  Fast forward to last week.  I had the most monstrous craving for the coconut almond rooibos tea that I absolutely could not shake off and that’s when I knew I needed to visit the shop and get my Steeped & Infused fix. 

Located on Queen Street East in Leslieville, Steeped & Infused is a beautiful, cheerful loose-leaf tea shop dressed in a bright outfit of forest green, white, and bright purple.  The shop is a tea lover’s emporium with tea accessories, gift sets, and kitchen and dining decor, and in the store you’ll find two giant walls of loose-leaf teas in packages and canisters with everything from white tea to green, black, rooibos, herbal, pu-reh, oolong, yerba mate, and fruit tisanes.  There are descriptions of all the teas that correspond to the little canisters on the shelves which you can open and take a heavenly sniff from.  Their loose leaf teas are available for purchase in either prepackaged bags or in measured increments of 50, 100, and 250 grams, along with a vast selection of 10 gram samples on spinning carousel racks by the cash counter.

Not only can you spin the tea wheel and take you pick from their many loose leaf varieties for a hot tea to go, but you can also fancy things up by having your tea in the form of iced teas, hot tea lattes, iced tea lattes, matcha tea lattes, matcha iced tea lattes, and matcha tea smoothies.  Their drink menu is huge and the flavour selection is fantastic.  Their menu of hot tea lattes include masala chai, chocolate supreme, chocolate cappuccino, caramel oolong, vanilla bourbon, and black currant berry among others. 

What makes the drink menu even more fabulous?  The lattes can be made vegan because you can have your lattes and matcha lattes with soy, rice, or almond milk!  I am so giddy about this!  I am in love with almond milk and I’ve had friends ask me about coffee and tea shops that specifically offer rice milk and I’m ecstatic that Steeped & Infused offers these options!  I know a number of places that offer soy milk and/or almond milk, but all three of these?  Fabulousity!  The presence of these options means that vegans and those with lactose intolerance and nut and/or soy allergies have choices and that’s always a great thing.

I’m excited to try their other tea drinks, especially some of the hot tea lattes and matcha tea lattes.  If they’re anything like my beloved coconut almond rooibos, they will be delicious.  What has disappointed me about a few of the teas I’ve had in the past at other places was the lack of flavour strength.  Coffee and tea drinkers alike will agree that one of the most common ways of ruining a coffee or tea beverage is to dilute and water down.  The whole point is to smell those aromas and have them translate into tasty, strong flavours, not to taste something that tastes like plain hot water or watered down flavoured water.  If the flavour itself ends up not being your cup of tea (pun totally intended), that’s okay, so long as the flavour is actually there. 

The coconut almond is just all sorts of yummy.  The tea itself has such a wonderful, rich and creamy taste to it which is pretty remarkable considering there isn’t a hint of cream in sight!  The creaminess of the coconut comes out full strength when you first drink it and the almond taste comes after, just as you’re about to swallow and the creamy coconut and almond flavour lingers as an aftertaste.  I have friends who worry about bitter tea aftertastes, but you won’t find that with this one.

My favourite things about Steeped & Infused have to be the accessories (the teapots and dish and tea towels are adorable!), their gift sets (hello, holidays!), and their 10 gram samples.  For those who enjoy having a variety of teas to drink through as opposed to being committed to just one, the 10 grams samples are wonderful and I love them.  They’re $1.75 and each 10 gram sample is good for about 3-4 cups of tea!  My sample from the Distillery District market gave me 4 cups and you can bet I’ll be getting more this holiday season!  I’m super happy because the Christmas Market at the Distillery will be back again this year from December 2nd-18th and Steeped & Infused has already secured their spot.  The shop is so pretty, the ladies who work here are really nice and helpful, and there’s plenty to browse and shop through when you’re here.  I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

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Steeped & Infused is located at 1258 Queen Street East in Leslieville, at the corner of Queen Street East and Hastings Ave.  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.