Tea with The Black Dragon

After a day in Banff and Canmore, there was an expectation that the next day might be quiet. The plan was a visit to the Downtown area for a look at where our son worked, a spot of lunch and then some river fishing.

Visiting downtown when it’s empty and easy to get around in, on a Sunday morning, was a masterful plan, slightly let down by the the fact that it was choked with cars and about 73 roadworks. This combined with an intriguingly random one-way system to create an impressively recursive gridlock. You could virtually spot your own car five cars back and ten in front.

Lunchtime found us in the Kensington area and eating at a specialty poutinerie. Yes, poutine, the Canadian speciality of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. This place had about 30 variations: I had the peppercorn beef poutine which was the best one of our group, so I declared myself the winner of lunch and we moved on via Shanks’ pony.

Our guide, Devotea Junior The Elder(hereafter DJTE)* then took us to  “Oolong Tea House”

And a fine place it is.

I like to see jars, and they had jars. Lots of jars. Lots of flavours and a few single origins, along one wall of a decidedly hip establishment.

They have a notice on a blackboard thanking customers for 10 years of loyal patronage.

Based on the crowd in there, anyone with ten years patronage had started not long after puberty.The place was entirely packed with 20-somethings. Myself and Lady D were the only over 30s there.

I feel pretty good about that. I’ve been in too many tea rooms where I’m the youngest person in the room, and everyone’s sipping English Breakfast or Earl  Grey. This place is vibrant and alive.

Dragonfly Kiss!
Hipster in training: Green Tea, Beard, all the evidence you need.
Leopard Snow tea in the foreground, Green Jasmine/Lychee to the rear
Through the windscreen shot as the excitement built
















After some serious perusal, I opted for a Leopard Snow white tea . Lady Devotea chose something called “Dragonfly Kiss”. Brillant name. It’s a silky milky chai-style concoction with mint and I think liquorice in it. Quite lovely. DJTE asked for an iced Green Jasmine & Lychee but received it hot.

All of these teas were excellent. I spent a further $1 on a small sample of blueberry black which was quite good when we had it later. No tea problems at all.

They had lots of nice-looking cakes and snacks, but we were poutine-stuffed. Perhaps next time. They were also very friendly, but so run off their feet I didn’t manage to have a chat with anyone. It was clear that everyone on shift enjoyed working there, and that really showed.

I had a look at their logo, which I have “borrowed” from their website. I assume they won’t mind, but if it’s missing, you can assume I assumed wrongly.

logo oolong




The circular black dragon, and I’m sure they had a version on the wall where it was totally enclosed in a further circle, reminded me of the book “Tea With The Black Dragon”, by RA McAvoy, which I read probably twenty years ago. I am sure my cover had a similar motif, though internet searches have found about 7 different covers, none of them similar. Perhaps there was some graphic elements at the start of each chapter, or some such device.

Anyway, it’s all circular.  A book I read at about the age of the current crop of tea hipsters, oolong means black dragon, black dragon means oolong, and a new generation are drinking tea. Gridlock and roadworks and you can find yourself where you were once and where you can be again.

I left there believing Oolong Tea House to be the finest tea outlet in Calgary, and definitely the best we had been in for many months. And yet within 24 hours, that view was challenged.


* go back a couple of blogs for an explanation. Or don’t.

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