- Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living.
A friend and I decided to explore upper Fort Street for an afternoon stroll and I wanted to have her join me to visit Terroir Tea Merchant, the newest tea merchant in Victoria. I'd noticed Terroir Tea Merchant was on the list of participants on the Off The Eaten Track Tours, and as an avid tea drinker I definitely wanted to know more about the new kid on the block.
The interior of Terroir is a modern, minimalistic style with warm natural wood, creating a space that doesn't distract from the featured teas or the steampunk tea brewing machine. We were served by Charity Hobbs, owner and certified tea master. Charity's love of tea began with the ritual of teatime with her mother and grandmother. Wherever Charity and her partner, Jason, travelled they would try local teas or search out teahouses. Charity decided the next step in her love for tea was to become a tea master. Her training was undertaken through the Australian Tea Masters Association while she and Jason were living there. Being entrepreneurs, upon their return to Victoria, Charity and Jason combined their passion of tea and their business sense to open Terroir on October 10th, 2015.
Prior to ordering our cup of tea, we were allowed to view the tea leaves along the sampling table. Opening the containers and smelling the oolong was a sensory adventure.
I choose the Honey Scent Red oolong from Nantou, Taiwan. This tea has the flavour of honey, raisins and spices with a malt finish that lingers on the palate. This tea is a summer tea, the leaves hand picked during the summer months. The processing of this tea is not roasted, it is oxidation which starts when the tea leaves are bitten by the green leafhopper. The leaves release amino acids as a defence mechanism that create the sweet flavour and aroma. A red oolong is actually what we call a black tea.
Charity brews all the teas in the steampunk brewing machine. See this interesting machine in action:
Once our tea was brewed we were served the tea in a double walled tall glass vessel. The glass is not hot to the touch, yet the tea retains its warmth. The vessel allows the tea to be viewed and to appreciate the lovely colour of each tea. Oolong is brewed between 80 C to 95 C. After my first few sips, Charity presented us with the tea leaves of our selected teas in a bowl. Inhaling the brewed leaves, unfurling them and learning about the picking process is all part of the tea experience at Terroir. Whether your looking for a place to sit and savour an oolong, take friends somewhere new or get a tea to go, Terroir is a treat.
I was impressed with the double walled glass vessel. The outside was completely cool to the touch and the tea inside was hot. I decided to purchase one, which comes with a "to-go" sleeve and lid.
Terroir Tea Merchant offers tea workshops, chocolate and tea pairing events, teas for sale and gift certificates.
Terroir Tea Merchant is located at 832 Fort Street, Victoria, British Columbia.
Thank you Charity for your time, the two cups of tea and sharing the stories of your travels and tea journey. With gratitude to you and Jason for becoming a part of the local business owners who share their passion and help to make this island an amazing place to live.