In April, Connie and I checked out Tea Trader in Inglewood on the suggestion of a friend of mine. I was keen on finding a Calgary source for amazing, fresh teas, and was told that Tea Trader had a great selection.
To start off, I should say that I’m not the kind of tea drinker that pays much attention to the pedigree of my tea. I drink herbal teas (not actually tea). I drink Rooibos tea (not actually tea), and I drink flavored black/green/white teas which apparently are equally as radical to tea-snobs. I couldn’t tell a Margret’s Hope Darjeeling from an Orange Pekoe if I had to, and I don’t much care at this point.
Tea Trader is up a narrow flight of stairs in one of the lovely old buildings in Inglewood. (As an aside – how much do you LOVE stores that are brave enough to keep the quirks and oddities of these old buildings intact? Love it!) The shop has a few shelves with travel mugs, eco-mugs, strainers, tea pots and other paraphernalia, but the tea is all behind the counter in lovely matching and labeled tins. They don’t actually serve any tea (Unlike Steeps or Oolong Tea House) much like my favorite (so-far) Banff Tea Company shop.
We started off with the printed catalog, while the clerk shared the different general classifications of tea she had in stock, talked about the size of leaves and a bunch of other things that I kind of got overwhelmed with… Just too much information! But, if you’re very into that sort of thing, I’m sure you’ll find the information useful and interesting!
Since we were the only customers in the store at that point, we went a different route and told her the kind of things we liked. Connie talked about green teas, while I talked about sweetness, flavors/blends, and blacks. She made a few suggestions, and we asked to see a few different things from the book. Ultimately, I selected Harrie’s Toffee Cream, a black dessert tea flavored with toffee caramel, while Connie selected Lichee, a Chinese black tea flavored with the fruit.
Final thoughts: I found the experience less inspiring than other tea shops, where you can shop more independently. I think that this would be a great experience for someone who knew exactly what they wanted, but the ‘polite Canadian’ in me doesn’t like to inconvenience a store clerk, when I’m just browsing. (Yes, I know that some places will consider this to be very good one-on-one customer service, but I like the choice I guess is my point.) I think that when I get to the point of really knowing tea a lot better, and be able to appreciate the pedigree’s of the teas I’m drinking, this will be an awesome resource. OR.. perhaps some of our readers will be able to recommend teas we should try?
If you’ve been to Tea Trader, what would you recommend from their selection? Comment below please!
1228 A – 9 Avenue S E
Calgary, AB T2G 0T1