TEA-licious: top Tea Cafes in Toronto

This is for my Canadian followers, or those planning to visit Toronto, who also love a good cup of tea.


I frequently see blogs about coffee spots across the city, but not often do I encounter ones that cater specifically to TEA. If you are a non-coffee drinker like myself (never had a cup in my life), then tea may be your best alternative for a hot drink, especially on a cold winter day.

And just like my last blog post (top fitness studios in Toronto), I spent many months exploring cafes across the city as I compiled a list of my top spots. The places that I listed provided more than just a tea bag in hot water; I was looking for unique blends, tasty lattes, great ambiance and Pinterest-worthy decor.

  1. Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar 

Located at 613 Queen Street West (Queen and Bathurst), Early Bird is one of my favourite cafes in the city. The patio upstairs is the perfect hideaway and the food is Instagram…

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Do You Like Your Tea Loosey Goosey?

Tea is consumed in about 80% of all U.S. households, either hot or iced. I personally love both hot and iced tea, but this post is not about the temperature of the tea you drink, rather the form of your tea. Tea comes in loose leaf style or packed in handy little tea bags.

tea cup

tea pot


Which form do you use? Loosey goosey or handy-dandy tea bags? Whatever’s in the cupboard at the time?

Turns out there are benefits to using loose tea over tea bags:

  • Vitamins, Antioxidants & Minerals Broken and crushed tea leaves packaged into tea bags have already lost most of their goodness before you even dunk them into the water. Steeping whole leaf tea allows the water to flow through the whole leaf extracting the valuable vitamins, minerals, essential oils, antioxidants, flavors and aromas.
  • Flavors Generally, standard tea bags are mixed of lower grade teas from around the world so the flavors remain basically the same year after year. However, loose teas are generally more specialized teas from specific areas of the world. These teas vary in aromas and flavors from season to season.
  • Freshness Good quality loose tea will be fresher than the standard tea bags stocked on the grocery store shelves for months if not years.

Whatever you use, tea can be very nutritious, calming and delicious. I prefer green, white and red teas over the black teas. How about you? Which teas do you enjoy?

Check out my other posts about tea:

5 Uses For Used Tea Bags

What Could Be Better Than Cats With Your Tea

Tea is For Beauty-Inside and Out

Tea In Smoothies – Who’d a Thunk It?

I love tea!

cup of tea

Rooibos Tea

I love smoothies!


Almond milk, banana, avocado, blueberry smoothie

So why not combine the two. Tea in smoothies.

Some of tea’s best benefits:

  • Teas are loaded with antioxidants
  • Less caffeine than coffee
  • May help you lose weight
  • Boost your immune system
  • May help fight off cancer

Some of the fruit smoothie’s best benefits:

  • Loaded with vitamins and minerals
  • Give you fiber
  • Added antioxidants
  • Boost your immune system
  • May help fight off cancer

So it looks to be a perfect marriage.


Here are some sites to get ideas & recipes for Iced Tea Smoothies:

5 Best Iced Tea Smoothies For Weight Loss

Black Tea Smoothies For a Hot Summer Morning

6 Best Ever Iced Tea Smoothies For Summer


Have you ever tried iced tea in your smoothie? If you have, or try any of these recipes, be sure to let me know what you think.

Other posts about tea:

Tea + Books + Tea Shop Mysteries

What Could Be Better Than Cats With Your Tea?

Tea is For Beauty – Inside and Out

Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony



Tea + Books = Tea Shop Mysteries

Do you enjoy a warm cup of tea?

cup of tea

Rooibos Tea

Do you enjoy reading books of mystery and romance?

book with lilacs

Then you would enjoy reading Laura Child’s Tea Shop Mystery Series.

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Child

Click here to buy

This book series has Theodosia Browning, former advertising executive now owns the Charleston’s Indigo Tea Shop.  Theo and the Indigo Tea Shop staff of Drayton,master tea taster, and Haley, college student baker, solve local mysteries. Theo also has an adopted dog, appropriately named Earl Grey, and Jory Davis,  a lawyer and  sexy love interest.

There are currently 18 books in this series and Laura Child also writes a scrapbook mystery series and the Cackleberry Club mystery series. Check out her website for all her books.

I highly recommend the books, along with a cup of tea and a pet by your side 🙂 Have you read one?


What Could Be Better Than Cats With Your Tea?

I love herbal teas and I love cats. So naturally, I would love the idea of cat cafes!

grey kitty on laptop

The world’s first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998 and since, they have sprung up across the globe.

cat mug

Cat cafes would naturally appeal to cat lovers but they serve a more important purpose. They let people who are not allowed pets in their apartments/condos, ‘rent‘ a cat or two for awhile. Also, people with family allergy issues or someone who has a spouse/mate who refuses to let a cat into their living space can come to a cat cafe to get their daily/weekly cat fix. And any cat lover will tell you they would die without a constant supply of their cat fix 🙂

person with cat

Benefits people can get from cat cafes:

  • a warm, fuzzy cat to snooze in their lap
  • cat-themed foods and desserts (although it may be a bit pricey)
  • you may get to provide a forever home for a cat – many cat cafes help find homes for strays
  • purrs to lower your heart rate and blood pressure
  • licks from a scratchy pink tongue

black & white tabby


Cat cafes can be found in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, New York City, Oregon, Russia, Japan and others. So look up the closest one to you and go give it a try!

Has anyone ever been to a cat cafe? I’d love to hear where you went and what you thought of it. Or just the idea of cat cafes in general – what do you think? Would you be likely to try it out?

(Here is a photo of our Aggie Girl, a rescue 8 years ago)

Aggie Girl

Sources: http://hellogiggles.com, http://www.lifewithcats.tv, http://www.shanghaidaily.com, http://webecoist.momtastic.com


Tea is For Beauty – Inside and Out

Using tea as a beauty treatment is far from new. Being rich in antioxidants, many cultures have used tea to improve their health and beauty for centuries.


We’ll start with beauty treatments for the outside:

You can use tea to cool down sunburned skin. 

sunburnWhenever you forget your sun protection or take a little too much sun, wet a few tea bags, squeeze out the excess liquid and apply to the affected skin (make sure it isn’t too warm). If you need more than a few tea bags, drop several tea bags into a bath and soak for 10 minutes.


You can use tea to relieve puffy eyes or dark circles under the eyes.

tea bags for eyesSoak a couple of tea bags in warm water and place over your eyes for 20 minutes. The tannin in the tea will reduce puffiness and soothe tired eyes. The caffeine in the tea will help to shrink the blood vessels under the skin, thus eliminating dark circles under the eyes.



You can use tea to soothe razor burn.

shaverWet tea bags will soothe the burn and painful nicks and cuts from shaving. Apply a warm tea bag to the affected area and feel the relief.



You can use tea to color your hair. 

To make your own hair color treatment –

  1. Steep 3 tea bags (or the equivalent amount of loose tea leaves) in 1 cup boiling water.
  2. Let stand overnight then strain.
  3. Shampoo as usual then pour tea over your hair, being sure to really saturate your hair.
  4. Blot with a towel but do not rinse. It may take several treatments to gain desired look.

tea for hair

This hair treatment will not turn black hair into blonde, but will enhance the natural highlights in hair. If you are a blonde, use Chamomile tea. If you are a redhead use Rooibos tea and black hair will benefit with using Black tea with Sage. This natural hair color will also work on those pesky gray hairs.

You can use tea to condition dry hair.

dry hairUse 1 quart (liter) of warm, unsweetened tea as a final rinse after shampooing your hair.



You can use tea to treat acne.

teenagersGreen tea works on acne both internally and externally. Internally, drink 2 to 3 cups a day. Externally, boil tea leaves then cool until warm. Dip a clean cloth into the tea and apply to the face and other areas. Tap gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Do these treatments for a couple of weeks and you should see quite an improvement.


Tea has hundreds of health benefits when consumed.

All teas have these health benefits:

  • helps with weight loss and weight management
  • detoxifies body
  • helps prevent cancers
  • increases bone strength
  • reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases

Each tea has individual health benefits:

tea - green

Green Tea increases metabolism, lowers blood pressure and heals acne.

tea -black

Black Tea manages or prevents diabetes, protects against plague and tooth decay.


tea - oolong china

Oolong Tea lowers the risk of high blood pressure and improves eczema.

tea - rooibos

Rooibos Tea (my personal favorite) improves liver health, is naturally caffeine-free, calms and helps with insomnia, can ease headaches and relieve allergy and hay fever symptoms.

So what is your favorite tea or tea treatment?

There is still time to enter my blogiversary contest, so click here.

Sources: http://www.rd.com/home, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, http://frugallygreen.org, http://www.teatalk.com

dragon illustrationHong Kong Treasure – A deadly Philippines typhoon stole Annie’s memory. And now, can a handsome stranger save her from the danger she had forgotten?

Release date: Chinese New Year, February 19, 2015

To read an excerpt – Hong Kong Treasure 

Tea Verses Coffee – Some Facts

Yes, the old controversy: tea or coffee?

We’ll start with coffee:

Legend has it that Ethiopian shepherds noticed that their goats became very frisky after eating coffee berries. But in truth it was African tribe members who mixed coffee berries with fat to make an edible energy ball, that first discovered caffeine.

coffee berry

The coffee bean is really a seed inside a bright red berry and only grows in the “Bean Belt” between Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Hawaii is the only state in the US which can grow coffee.

Hawaii coffee farms

In 1675 the King of England banned coffee houses because he claimed they were places where people met to conspire against him.

Islam contributed to the popularity of coffee because in their religion, alcohol was prohibited while coffee was acceptable.

Europeans originally called coffee “Arabian wine.”


70 % of the world consumes Arabica coffee (mild and aromatic) while 30 % consumes Robusta coffee (more bitter-tasting with 50 % more caffeine). Americans consume 400 million cups per day or 146 billion cups per year. This makes America the leading consumer of coffee in the world.

coffee cup with swirl

Caffe’ sospeso, in Italian means “suspended or pending coffee.” It is a tradition which involves paying for an extra cup of coffee for a future customer who may be down on their luck. Those people can come into the coffee shop and ask if there are any sospesos available. This tradition is reported to have originated in Naples around a 100 years ago but happily the practice has grown to internationally.

The Guinness-recognized “oldest cat ever,” Creme Puff, lived to be 38 years old. Her owner attributed her long life to feeding her coffee every day with her breakfast of eggs, bacon and broccoli.

black & white cat, clip artIf you really love your coffee, I mean really love your coffee you could pay 2,800 Yen (about $27) at the Yunessum Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan, to soak in a coffee pool. (They also have pools of green tea, wine and sake.)



Now, on to tea!

Legend says that tea was discovered in 2737 BC when tea leaves accidentally blew into Chinese Emperor Shen-Ning’s boiling water.

China is the world’s largest producer of tea with India coming in second.

Chinese Tea House

Chinese Tea House

Ireland is the largest nation of tea drinkers with Great Britain coming in second.

Over 1.42 million pounds of tea is consumed in the US every day with an estimated 85 % of it being iced tea.

iced tea

Solid blocks of tea were used as money in Siberia until the 19th Century.

There are many different kinds of tea but they all come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The color and variety (green, black, white or oolong) depends on how the leaves are treated.

Tea bags were invented in America in the early 1800s.

tea cup

On average, tea has half the amount of caffeine of coffee.

“Women are like tea bags. They do not know how strong they are until they get into hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Tea has always been considered a healthy drink, especially green tea. Tea is a natural antioxidant and rich in vitamins B2, B1 & B6, potassium, manganese, folic acid and calcium. It can reduce some forms of cancer, help with bad breath, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure, help with weight control, kill bacteria and viruses, and has neuro-protective powers.

It also has relaxing effects that can help improve your sex life.

red silk sheets

Tea leaves are a natural way of keeping mosquitoes away. Just spread slightly damp leaves to add the scent of tea in the area you want insect-free.

There are many uses for used tea bags. To read about some, check out my post 5 Uses for Used Tea Bags.

The most expensive High Tea is at the Ritz Carlton of Hong Kong. For $8,888 Dollars per couple you get the best teas, finger foods, fantastic cakes and view of Hong Kong.

tea service - silver

The most expensive tea in the world is the rare Chinese tea, Tieguanyin. It costs around $1,500 Dollars a pound and is named after the Buddhist deity, Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy). It is an oolong tea.

So, if you haven’t guessed, I am a tea drinker. I love herbal teas with green and white tea.

How about you? Which do you prefer? Tell me in the comments if you’re a tea sipper or a coffee guzzler and what’s your favorite blend or type.

**There is still time to check out my Blogiversary Party and enter my contest to win a signed copy of my new book, Hong Kong Treasure. Click here.

Sources: http://theoatmeal.com/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, http://www.neatorama.com, http://www.finedininglovers.com,  http://facts.randomhistory.com/tea-facts.html

dragon illustrationHong Kong Treasure – A deadly Philippines typhoon stole Annie’s memory. Now, can a handsome Chinese stranger save her from the danger she has forgotten?

Release date: Chinese New Year, February 19, 2015.


5 Uses for Used Tea Bags

I love tea and drink it everyday. So … what do you do with all those used tea bags?

tea cup with bag

I am a really big supporter of a recycle & reuse lifestyle so here are 5 uses for steeped tea bags:

1. Cleaning – The astringents in tea cuts through grease so use them to clean your pots and pans.



2. Deodorizing – Tea bags absorb odors so you can use them to get fish/onion/garlic odors off your hands. You can also stick them (once dried) in stinking sneakers to refresh them. Of course, if they’re this bad maybe you should just fill them with dirt and plant flowers in them.

Smelly sneakers



3. Gardening – Tea is very acidic and full of nutrients so add them to your compost pile, but make sure the bags are made of biodegradable materials and organic. They can also be used as a drainage layer in pots.

Girl Planting Seeds


4. Grooming – Tea has relaxing and soothing properties so throw a few bags in your bath next time and enjoy!



5. Healing – Tea has many healing benefits so use the wet (but not hot) bags on your tired eyes, sunburn, insect bites or minor burns. You could also bite down on them to help speed the healing of canker sores.



Does anyone else have uses for our used tea bags? I’d love to hear them.

Sources: http://www.teatulia.com and diycozyhome.com


dragon illustrationHong Kong Treasure – A deadly Philippines typhoon stole Annie’s memory. Now, can a handsome Chinese stranger save her from the danger she has forgotten?

Coming in September from Assent Publishing.