Camellia Sinensis: Montreal

 Welcome to Camellia Sinensis: Salon de Thé in downtown Montreal. The day after the Ottawa Tea Festival I finally had my chance to visit this lovely store. Back in 2010, I asked a friend to get me a few teas as they were visiting the area. They were also as blown away as I was at the end of November last year.

     The day prior at the Ottawa tea festival , I had the pleasure to meet Kevin Gascoyne. We chatted about the Toronto Tea Festival and about the store locations within Montreal. It was a great honour to talk to him face to face and visit his Salon the next day.

The location I spent the most time at was on Rue Émery, one side is the tea shop and the other is a cafe. On the shop side I was greeted by the warm colours and delicious displays of tea ware. I left with a tray for ryakubon and tea, Matcha Sendo. After finalizing my purchase, I made my way over to the Salon side.

The space was full but still maintained its calm meditative feel. Patrons were chatting with friends, studying, reading or simply enjoying the atmosphere of the space. Once I was seated I was served a sample of tea and handed the menu to look over. Each table was given a small bell to ring once you were ready to order.

  For this visit I decided to enjoy Sensha Nagashima and a selection of Japanese sweets. While waiting for my order I took in the space, warmth of the colours around me washed over. It felt like a home away from home. The space was lightly decorated my various artifacts from tea growing regions around the world. It was very hard to not touch them.

    My tea arrived and I could not wait to start brewing this delicious selection of sencha. The grassiness was balanced with the sweetness that quickly came. Perfect development in the mouth. Paired with the quickly devoured Japanese sweets it made for a perfect evening. 

    I quite enjoyed that the service was focused on quality rather than speed of other establishments, it matched the atmosphere very well. Everything was simplified for quests right down to the amount of teas on the menu, which I must say should be between 15-20. This made it very easy for the Salon to be stocked with these teas at all times. 

       If you are looking for a quiet moment in the busy downtown of Montreal, I highly suggest making your way over to this establishment for some well deserved R & R, your taste buds will thank you.

How to Travel with tea

 Every tea drinker wants to ensure they always have their favorite tea with them at all times. Now for someone obsessed with tea, I bet that is most of us, we need more than one type.  While packing for Halifax I packed my tea first and thought of an easy way to make it where ever I am.
     In a box I packed up all the teas I thought I might want. This included a few kinds of matcha, samples from various companies and a tea cake.

    The vessel I picked out was my tumbler from the Camilla Sinensis that I got at the Ottawa Tea Festival while talking to Kevin Gascoyne. The exterior is coated in bamboo with a stainless steel inside. The infuser opens up to hold any type of loose leaf tea and screws closed.

Here are a few other options for brewing:

1- Paper Tea filters
       These are great, even for when introducing others to loose leaf tea. It’s close to how a tea bag works but allows you to choose your tea. My favorite kind is by Finnum, the extra long ones are great for all teas and for a teapot.

2-  Travel gaiwan set
        Sadly, mine broke while packing, but they are super handy. They come with a small fair cup to decant your tea into and several cups so that A great site I found  in Toronto is from Tao Tea Leaf.It is great for trips .

3. Double walled travel infuser
     These babies are a fantastic way to bring tea with you, even to work. Libre is a great Canadian company that has a plastic wall on the exterior and glass on the inside. This way it keeps your hand cool while keeping the temperature inside.

Matcha: Taste is Everything 2

Markyu Koymaen Matcha- Aoarashi, Katherine Bellman

  As part of my matcha taste tests that I mentioned last week, we are on tea #2. I talked to my good friend KingKoh about  different matcha and he brought up that hoarding matcha is not good. The reason for this is after it is open it starts to oxidize and loose its fullness. I try to keep this in mind when I am getting new matcha. With that right now I have three- four open right now and in room temperature. With that said I have been trying to drink them all up. Once they are done I have a closed can of Camillia Sinensis’ Matcha Sendo in the freezer waiting. 

Markyu Koymaen Matcha- Aoarashi, Katherine Bellman

    Just a note on keeping matcha a bit longer, put the tin in a zip lock bag or sealed tupperware to protect it from smells. With that said, on to this weeks tea.
 Aoarashi from Ko no en (Marukyu Koymaen), the lowest ceremonial grade they have on their website.  This tin is 40g of delicious matcha. I got this one from e-bay from a seller who lives within Toronto somewhere. 

     I will admit this tea I have been hoarding and it is not in
its best state. Even still I can not pass up this tea when given the chance. 

Markyu Koymaen Matcha- Aoarashi,Chawan by Kingkoh.  Katherine Bellman

 The taste in the mouth and lingering after taste were
the similar , just a touch weaker. Notes of dark chocolate  develop after tea has
been swallowed. The taste reminds me of the dry sweets that go with Japanese
tea, higashi. 
   As you can see it would not whisk properly. This is a good reason not to let matcha sit around for too long. Although unlike our previous tea from Teavana, this one held together very well. This means it mixed well but just could not create a froth.
  Ko no En’s tea is from Uji, Kyoto. Ko no en is a distributor of Marukyu Koymaen tea here in Toronto. I am lead to believe that the e-bay seller may be part of Ko no En, but they do not say so.  
    With Kohei’s post in mind, I still prefer Uji matcha. The taste is far more complex in the mouth and lingers for a long time. This tea although is fairly cheep on e-bay, it goes for $16.00CDN. Going back to Kohei’s post price does not determine quality. This one has similar notes to Yugen from the same company but is much easier on my wallet.  Let’s see what our next tea has to offer, join me next week for part three. 

                                                            How do you store your matcha ?

Seasonal Depression: Tea Solutions

    Every year around this time of year there is a percentage of us that suffer from Seasonal Depression. I will admit I am one of them. It’s hard to tell as I will be all smiles around people but when I am alone, with my cat, its hard to think of anything to do or even find the energy.
   I decided to let you all know this because I feel that tea helps me get through by pushing through these feelings.  I will admit to laying on my bed for long periods of time but those moments I get up to make a cup of tea just help push through down moments..
    The teas that help the most are those with a good amount of caffeine. I feel that the reason behind this is due to it giving you energy to move and also l-Theanine calming effect.
    For this reason I like to have a nice warm bowl of matcha to keep me going and focused. My favourite Matchas are:
-Yugen from Kono-En
-Kan no Shiro from Ippodo
-Matcha Sendo- Camellia Sinensis

Drink up and stay healthy!


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Review: Camillia Sinensis- Da Hong Pao, Gyokuro and Sencha

Camillia Sinensis is a company that is based out of Quebec. I originally discovered them online and knew my partner was visiting there in the coming days. This was back in 2009, when I got the tea from her upon her arrival  I was blown away. Back to current day, I have been loyally looking at their website. Continuously making shopping carts then changing them over many days.  There are so many teas to choose from that I can never decide what to buy. 

This seems to be the case for any online or store front tea purveyor. To assist their buyers and also familiarize myself with their teas more I approached them with a proposal to try out a few teas and write about them. Win-win situation. So here we are now, はじめましょう!(Let’s start!).

The three teas I received were: Gyokuro Hokuren, Da Hong Pao and Sencha Kaori Hokuren. 

Gyokuro Hokuren

     Their website describes that this tea is from the Shizouka region of Japan, on the top three regions with in the country. As we can see the leaves have a beautiful needle shape and a vibrant dark forest green hue to them.

      The wet leaf smelt of sweet beans or peas, it reminded me of my grandfathers vegetable garden. Very nostalgic scent.
   The actual tea had a typical green colour. It smelt and tasted like string beans (why am I thinking of beans? ), cut grass and broccoli. It was very smooth in the mouth and had a lingering dark chocolate taste once it was finished.
     This is very much my type of tea as I originally began with Japanese teas years ago. I am already intrigued to find out how the Sencha is.

Sencha Kaori Hokuren

    This is another tea from the Shizuoka region of Japan, we can tell now the the similarity in the names from the previous tea. The leaves are styled in a similar manner to Gyokuro and as we can see have a similar colour to them as well.

Typically sencha has a fuller taste in comparison to a Gyokuro. This was the case with this one but it was accompanied with a nice hint of  mango. It was very smooth in the mouth and did not disappoint me.  I will point out it still had the vegetable notes to it but I was taken back by the mango. It made the evening very interesting.

Da Hong Pao

         This tea has been a favorite for quite sometime now, that may be due in part to the history behind it. The leaves are from the Wu Yi Mountains in Fijian, and have a classic dark colour to them. A sweet woody smell comes off of them before I begin to brew.
   I decided to enjoy the pre-infusion, the smell of the wet leaves has a a light smokiness from processing.  The leaves at this point have a nice “hookers green” colour, I am still not sure why I could not get away from this description but it is a paint colour.  The actual brew has a lovely amber hue to it in the white cups.
     Upon tasting it it warms the body up, the taste of …mango’s in the background?  I am still confused why this was the taste I identified. The second infusion the taste changes to biscuity- freshly baked bread.  Very lovely.    This tea always surprises me, I once tasted cooked sugar. Which was a nice perspective of this fine tea.

To finish I want to thank Camillia Sinensis for sending me these teas to try. I truly enjoyed the chance to try more of their teas and to see the other side of there adventures through the leaves. I hope that we can continue this friendship through tea.
                      Thank you again!