Picture this - a light morning mist hugging the tea gardens far away, the delicate aroma of freshly plucked leaves filling the air, and the promising whisper of an exceptional cup of tea. But the enchantment doesn't just lie in the final product we enjoy. The journey of Alberta's craft teas, from leaf to cup, is a captivating tale of patience, dedication, craftsmanship, and a deep love for the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
Tea, like fine coffee, bears the imprint of the land it comes from. The soil, climate, altitude, and the unique care lavished on each leaf play a crucial role in the tea's quality and taste profile. Once these leaves reach Alberta, they are given a new lease of life. Our dedicated tea producers blend, mix, and create magic, resulting in teas that offer a taste journey unlike any other.
The Life of a Tea Leaf
The journey of tea begins with the picking of the leaf - a process that requires a tender touch and an astute eye. Only the freshest leaves are chosen. They are typically plucked by hand to ensure the delicate shoots are not damaged.
Once plucked, the leaves undergo withering - a critical step where the leaves are spread out to let moisture evaporate. This process kickstarts oxidation and helps develop the tea's flavor. Alberta's tea producers carefully oversee this process upon receiving the tea, valuing quality over quantity.
The Art of Oxidation and Firing
The degree of oxidation determines the type of tea - from the lightly oxidized green tea that retains much of the leaf's original flavor, to the fully oxidized black tea that acquires a robust, rich taste. Some of Alberta's tea artisans have mastered the art of using these oxidized teas, crafting exquisite blends that offer a delightful journey of tastes in every cup.
After oxidation, the tea leaves undergo firing or drying. This process halts oxidation by applying heat to the leaves, preserving their color and locking in the unique flavors created during oxidation.
Local Infusion: Creating Alberta’s Signature Blends
In Alberta, our craft tea producers use the dried tea leaves as a base to create something truly unique. They might mix in locally sourced herbs, flowers, berries, and other ingredients, creating a blend that is truly Albertan.
Each blend is carefully curated, balancing the flavors to create a harmonious experience. From subtle, soothing herbal blends to robust, full-bodied concoctions, Alberta's tea artisans produce a myriad of offerings, each representing a unique facet of Alberta’s taste palette.
Tasting the Craft
Finally, the journey concludes in the tasting. True tea connoisseurs know that tasting tea involves more than just the palate. It is about appreciating the color of the brew, the aroma that wafts from the cup, and the flavors that unfold in your mouth.
Alberta's craft teas, with their wide variety, provide a delightful tasting journey. From the subtle, vegetal notes of our green teas to the strong, malty flavors of our black teas, every sip tells a story of the lands they come from and the craft that shaped it into the cup of tea you hold.
In recent years, Albertans have been rediscovering the beauty of tea. Local teahouses and tea festivals are burgeoning. New tea enthusiasts are exploring the nuances of different brews and are developing a taste for the craft teas produced in their backyard.
Edmonton has become a hub for tea lovers with places like Remedy Cafea and The Tea Place serving an array of high-quality teas. Similarly, Calgary boasts The Naked Leaf and Oolong Tea House, where tea enthusiasts can savor artisanal brews in a warm, inviting atmosphere.
In Lethbridge, The Jasmine Room stands as a testament to the town's growing tea culture. With an excellent selection of teas and an inviting atmosphere, it's become a staple for local tea enthusiasts.
Alberta's rural areas are not to be left out of the tea renaissance. The Penny Coffee House in Drumheller, although not strictly a tea house, serves a variety of fine teas in a cozy, welcoming setting. Additionally, the High Tea Cafe & Bakery at The Rosebud Theatre in Wheatland County offers a traditional high tea experience, complete with a selection of teas, sandwiches, and pastries during the theatre season.
In this spirit of appreciation, let's remember the importance of supporting local. By choosing to buy craft teas produced in our own cities of Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge, and in our vibrant communities across Woodlands County, Barrhead, and many other counties in Alberta, we are not only treating ourselves to high-quality, unique brews. We are also contributing to our local economy, promoting sustainability, and fostering a sense of community.
This commitment to local extends to our choices in where we purchase our teas. Gems of Alberta, a dedicated local marketplace, is an excellent platform that brings the finest Albertan craft teas right to your doorstep. By choosing Gems of Alberta, you are directly supporting our local tea artisans and their passion for crafting these delectable brews.
From purchasing a tin of locally blended tea on Gems of Alberta to sharing a pot at a local teahouse, every small action contributes to the thriving tea culture in our province. In these simple acts, we ensure the continued growth and success of the craft tea industry in Alberta, allowing us to enjoy the unique flavors and experiences they provide for years to come.