A few weeks ago we were invited to check out O5 Tea Bar in Kitsilano. Before this I didn’t know that there’s a tea-tasting bar in Vancouver. To be honest, being Chinese I don’t know much about tea, so I was quite excited about this visit.
Pedro, one of the managing partners, hosted us that evening. A bit different from regular tasting event, Pedro didn’t have a set menu/agenda in mind. He had a few teas that he wanted us to try, but ultimately it all depended on how much we wanted to drink, and how much caffeine we could handle.
Overall, the experience was pretty neat. It was interesting to watch the process of making fresh matcha, from grinding the tea leaves, to brewing to serving.
You can also tell that Pedro is very knowledgeable about tea and is passionate about it. There’s a slideshow running in the back of the room that documents Pedro and his partner’s time in Asia when they were at tea farms and harvesting tea leaves. They are also very respectful of the tea leaves, following the ritual of the art of tea (e.g. they warm up the bowls with hot water before brewing the tea, and warm up the drinking vessels before serving).
The kinds of tea they serve is no ordinary ones. In addition to matcha, we had the opportunity to try a cold infusion, an intense cold brew (steep directly in cold water & ice), as well as water with Bittered Sling. According to Pedro, Yame Gyokuro the cold brew contains the most amount of caffeine after matcha.
Pedro shared some tips about tea drinking. He said that in the spring/summer time, we should drink lighter teas, such as green tea; and in fall/winter we would be drinking darker tea. On the other hand, he said youngsters would drink lighter tea and as we grow older, we’d be more inclined to drink darker tea. That’s the way how our stomach handles the different kinds of tea.
The Tea Bar also serves tapas. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to taste any so I can’t comment on them; but judging by the menu, the selection seems to pair quite well with tea.
This is not your regular cafe where you will go and grab a tea to go. Well, it’s possible – they could make you a tea in 30 seconds – but it’s not recommended. This is a place for you to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea, while learning to appreciate and understand the art.
O5 Rare Tea Bar
2208 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver