Hello TEA Friends!
When you walk into your hotel room and find a tea caddy next to the mini bar, you just know your vacation is going to be good. Such was my experience two weeks ago in Toronto and helping myself to the contents of the tea caddy was just the beginning of a wonderful tea trip across the border.
There were a number of reasons for the trip: my brother, Glenn, had given us theatre ticket vouchers last Christmas which we could use in Toronto; I had my sights set on the Tea Emporium, a must-see on on my "tea room visit wish list"; and it was my birthday. It was my husband, Chris', idea to package them all together so, on the Saturday before my birthday, we packed up and headed across the Blue Water Bridge to Canada. Another four hours east and we were at our destination city.
Our hotel was in Yorkville, a trendy, upscale part of Toronto with a slew of designer stores, quaint pubs and fine restaurants all within walking distance of our marble-tiled lobby. After a quick unpacking, a tour about the room, an inspection of the fancy shampoo and hand lotion bottles and, of course, a relaxing cup of tea, we headed out to Bloor Street for a short jaunt to dinner. Our concierge recommended a charming, romantic Italian restaurant, Vaticano's, and called in our reservation. Like our hotel room, once inside, we knew immediately, this was the right choice.
Tucked in a cozy corner table that took in the picture window views of the street scene, we dined on pasta, salad and just baked bread. But, the biggest treat was the after dinner drinks - my husband chose a brandy, but I could think of nothing else but investigating the blueberry tea listed on the menu. Our waiter explained the hot tea was served with Grand Marnier. Although, he had me at "blueberry tea. . . ", I was pleased to hear more. It was, in fact, delicious - a bit like drinking hot blueberry syrup, but more refined than it sounds.
After that, we continued our high-brow themed evening at the Princess of Wales Theatre to see "Young Frankenstein, the Musical". Absurdly funny, the highlight of the play, as in the movie, is the singing and dancing duet of scientist and monster, both in tuxedos and top hats, and bellowing "Putting on the Ritz!!". It was "Super Duper".
The next day, we headed north from our hotel to visit The Tea Emporium, on Eglinton Avenue, one of four locations for this tea franchise in Toronto. This particular location, however, is home to the Tea School, which is also on my wish list to attend. The Tea Emporium (more in next blog story) has a great variety of teas to choose from and sample and the staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. We spent a good portion of our visit learning about their teas from our young, enthusiastic tea rep as he discussed in detail each tea's story while opening its respective canister. We inspected, sniffed and became acquainted with several of the teas before even taking in a cup.
Loaded with a Tea Emporium bag full of teas for more sampling at home, we headed back to the the car for our trip home. Here, my husband surprised me with a silver chain with a sapphire pendant for my birthday. It was a tea trip blended with luxury accommodations, chic dining, top shelf liqueur, silver jewelry and Mel Brooks. Yes, indeed, that tea caddy was a good sign - this "ritzy" vacation WAS great!
Yours in TEA and Friendship,