Tea is something that is I don’t usually enjoy (too many bad cups of Red Rose as a kid) so when I was invited to the O5 Tea Bar on West 4th Ave I jumped at the chance to attend and try to learn something new from a professional. I wanted to bring someone with me who loved tea so the coffee hating Melissa was the perfect choice! For this tasting we were joined by some other great bloggers and photographers, it was great to see Kevin, Adrian, Jeremy, Joann and Joyce.
The O5 Tea Bar is a tea house that specializes in Obsessively sourced, terroir-based tea. The O in their name stands for Obsessive and the 5 represents Earth’s five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. The owner Pedro Villalon is passionate to say the least when it comes to the teas sold in the shop. Every year Pedro travels around Asia sourcing teas from small farms in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and the Himalayas. On the back wall a slide show of images from his travels plays for your enjoyment.
They have a nice selection of beautiful and unique tea pots, cups and sets.
We started off the evening with a sort of palate cleanser. O5 uses Bittered Sling Extracts by local company Kale & Nori Culinary Arts Inc. and for this preparation they used a couple of drops of a citrus blend that smelled beautiful and when sipped it dissipated from quickly from your palate leaving it refreshed.
Next up some fresh matcha was ground before our eyes! After grinding for about 10 minutes we had enough for 2 drinks so I can really appreciate all the effort that goes into making this traditional drink.
The process of preparing the matcha was great to watch. The water is pre-filtered but is then heated in a cast iron post on an induction burner with a block of charcoal in it to further filter it so your sure that you’re getting the purest water around. The served the emulsion with homemade matcha flavoured yema that is made with condensed milk.
We were all instructed to try the matcha with the candy and it completely changed the way the matcha tasted for the good, it brought out more flavor notes that weren’t there when the matcha was drank by itself.
Our next tea was a micro-harvest (30kg total) from Korea called Balhyocha Noeul. Balhyocha Noeul is an oolong tea that claims to be a good cure for hangovers. This was slightly smokey and I actually quite liked it-I’ve never had oolong tea before.
Next we had a tea by the name of Cold White Moon Light. This was refreshing and bright and would be perfect on a hot summer’s day. This was one of my favorite tea infusions of the night and I really like white teas. It was crisp and light with a hint of berry and honey.
Lastly we tried another cold infusion – Yame Gyokura – served with candied hibiscus flowers. This was a deep rich green and ocean mineral infusion with a very high chlorophyll and caffeine content. This is considered to be one of the best green teas in the world and even though when steeped it was still clear it was packed with a punch of green tea flavor. In Japan this is served warm and is consumed how we drink coffee here in the morning seeing it packs a ton of caffeine. I enjoyed this as well for its pure flavor and caffeine punch, we got to try it both filtered and unfiltered-I liked it better filtered.
I think we all had a really good time at O5 Tea Bar and I’d recommend it to any tea lover out there, a big thanks to Pedro for inviting us down. Tea tastings and flights are available daily and you can also purchase stuff from their website if you can’t make it to the shop.