My self imposed rule about not reviewing tea places in countries where our own teas are available has meant not much action in the review arena for some time, and now here’s two at once!
Whilst the title of this post may briefly excite @lahikmajoe, @lazy_literatus and other Greek Mountain Tea enthusiasts, this post is not about GMT at all, so as you were, gentlemen.
Instead, it’s about yesterday’s day out, where we sat in a car, aimed it at the big lumpy things on the horizon, and drove.
They are called the Canadian Rockies and based on my limited experience of actual mountains, (coming from a country that basically doesn’t have them) these are in the class of “quite big ones”.
Of course, I had to remember that Calgary is a kilometre above sea level, so we are already quite high up.
Anyway, a day of mountains, food and tea was promised, so we duly set off at the crack of dawn. Let’s say 8a.m. I guess 9a.m. will be fine, we are in no hurry.
We set off at 10.20. I was already keen on getting some tea in.
We drove through quite a bit of snow by my standards i.e. I am used to none. Plenty of snow covered fields still.
Past some lovely lakes and fir tree covered hills, all the while the mountains got bigger.
Being English, Lady Devotea has some experience of snow and mountains. Being Canadian and pre-Canadian, our hosts have quite a bit as well. I have very little. I dressed for snow once on an excursion up the Pyrenees and it was 26 degrees Celsius. Today I took no chances and donned several layers. First stop: Canmore
Canmore is lovely. See!
Nice little alpine village, and a stop at Communitea Cafe.
Our experience at Communitea was patchy. The tea list is extensive, and numbered, Chinese menu style, so they actually want you to order that way: “a 120 and a 106, please”. Sadly, while they have numbers, they have no explanations or description..
Service was patchy, they seemed to have a lot of staff who were all quite busy on what was a fairly quiet service. Neither of the staff I spoke to had much idea of what ingredients were in the tea, and the canisters were inconsistent: some had ingredients listed, some didn’t.
I went for Maple black, and others had a Lavender Earl Grey and a Snowflake black (with milk & sugar). I did not try the Earl Grey (allergies) but it smelt over-lavendered, the other two were quite good, the snowflake (which seemed to have nuts and coconut in it ) was the better of them.
I also bought three little sample bags, enough to do one big pot each, and really quite expensive. So far at home base we’ve had the After 8 Rooibos (an impressive choc-mint blend) and Himalayan Chai (fear of ginger has reduced this blend to quite bland).
Overall, it’s the sort of tea shop where, if you lived nearby, you’d quickly get to grips with the 40 or 50 teas and get on well with the friendly staff, but as a one off, it was a bit lacking. Had I struck a real tea enthusiast behind the counter, all would have been much, much better.
There’s a bit of a pattern developing based on David’s and this one: perhaps Canadians would prefer a bunch of flavourings in most of their teas, as I am seeing very little single gardens or even single region.
Anyway,a quick walk around the lovely town and then off to Banff.
Banff! It’s a bit legendary, isn’t it?
We had a great pizza, and a fantastic stroll. Also something called a “Beaver Tail”, which is basically a fried lump of flat doughnut dough covered in confectionary. It conforms to the general rule of Canadian Traditional Cuisine I’ve seen here, which is fry the hell out of something and then cover it with something even more unhealthy. Needless to say, I’m loving it.
I had in mind the Banff tea Co for a final destination in Banff, but when we got there, it was no tables, no chairs, just a retail store front. I was disappointed in that – not their fault.
And it was stacked with people.
I asked for 100 grams of the tea I had been planning to drink (Moroccan Liquorice) and found an amusing infuser, and headed to the counter. During my purchase, I expressed my disappointment I couldn’t get a hot cup of tea. “Of course you can” said the server. “What would you like”?
As I already had the tea I wanted dry style, I had to think fast
“Didn’t I see a ‘Canadian Breakfast” on your site?
“What’s in that”?
“I don’t know, this is my second day”
“Can I have a sniff of it”
The canister was duly produced. I had a sniff.
“African, Indian and Chinese tea blend” I pronounced.
“No, that’s not right”, she said, “the ingredients are on the back. It’s tea from China, Tanzania and India”.
Faced with providing a geography lesson or just ordering the tea, I chose the latter.
It turned out to taste like cheap English Breakfast tea.
I think Banff Tea Co are a wonderful tea shop, but one I didn’t get the best out of. If I’d arrived at a quiet moment, I would have had a ball talking tea.
I am yet to try the Moroccan Liquorice.
Anyway, a splendid day out and two tea experiences that were encouraging, rather than spectacular.
But never fear, because my next post IS about a spectacular tea experience. Stay tuned.