As mentioned in our last post, the end of February marked Victoria’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” for 2016. It’s a great opportunity for locals to get out to places they may not yet have discovered in the greater Victoria area. We had loose plans to visit a few places on the Friday afternoon, but they pretty much evaporated when we crossed the threshold of Terroir Tea Merchant (on Fort, between Quadra and Blanshard).
Let’s begin with what Terroir is not: They don’t sell coffee, bottled water, fruit juice, cookies or doughnuts. What they do offer are more than two dozen different teas from the various tea-growing regions, sourced wherever possible from the growers themselves. Our tea was carefully prepared by a tea master, a woman so warm and engaging we abandoned our loosely-knit plans and took up far too much of her time instead. Charity is a certified tea master with accreditation from Australia and her partner (in tea and in life) Jason is a tea specialist with a science background. They are equally open, incredibly knowledgeable and wonderful to talk with. Terroir comes from the French language and encompasses not only the soil of a region but also the climate, rainfall, sun, as well as the culture and heritage of that region as all of these and more impact the plants growing there. An Oolong tea from Taiwan and an Oolong tea from Nepal are not the same by any means. Even plants from the same region, growing at different altitudes or picked at different times will have different flavours to offer.
Charity and Jason also understand the true nature of the word ‘competition’: to strive together. If they don’t have what a customer is looking for, they’ll refer them to someone who might. They have and will continue to incorporate tea pairings with other local businesses, combining their tea offerings with chocolate, perhaps, or different cheeses. More information on upcoming events is available on their website. They’re also developing and offering courses and workshops for those interested in learning more about the art of tea.
We’ve already told several friends about Terroir, and their responses can best be summed up by our friend A. who replied, “Yes! Their tea is amazing! I’m glad you’ve discovered them too!”
Do drop by their store on Front Street, and while you’re there take the time to watch the tea being prepared in what may be the coolest tea-making machine in Victoria. It looks like a French press on steroids and is controlled via an Android tablet. The software allows the simultaneous preparation of four different teas, each brewed for a specific time and at a specific temperature. If a customer has a certain preferences – longer steeping time or difference in temperature for example, custom recipes can be programmed into memory. They wouldn’t say, but we’re reasonably confident it can also monitor and track several small satellites… 🙂
Do drop by; you’ll be glad you did!
P.S. If you really want to know about the gummi bear tea (no, they do not sell it) well, you’ll have to ask. 😉