Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tea time at ShakTea

Shaktea on Urbanspoon

I hadn't seen my friend from the UK in months and months, and as she had expressed an interest in afternoon teas and the like, I suggested we meet at ShakTea (3702 Main Street). She inquired into the price of the full afternoon tea service and was daunted by it, but was still so taken by the concept of the place (the word she used was "amazed") that she just had to meet there anyway.

It's a rustic/oriental looking place, with a sort of quiet, calming vibe inside that is totally different from bright, bustling Main Street right outside. On the counter were three glass teapots on little stands with candles lit beneath, keeping the teas nice and hot. Tiny teacups were plentiful in a basket nearby for all to sample these three teas. I tried the intriguing Blueberry Yogurt Rooibos, which really does have yogurt bits in it, and was not disappointed by the interesting flavour.

My friend and I sat down for tea, and she ordered a Pumpkin Spice Rooibos to go with her Cheddar Toast ("Sharp, 5 yr aged white Cheddar with our Apricot Peach Oolong fig compote"), which though tasty enough turned out to be a rather disappointingly small sample of baguette-slice sized toasts with shavings of cheddar and a generous glob of fruit on top. Nicely put together flavour-wise, but I can see how anyone might balk at the miniscule serving (old cheddar and special compote notwithstanding). And curiously, the Pumpkin Spice Rooibos tasted like pumpkin but in fact involves no pumpkin at all.
Tea was served in a red pot with its own knitted Tea Cozy.

I ordered a Organic Shaktea Chai Chocolate Pudding to share ("Made with our popular Organic Shaktea Chai, spiced black tea infused with Belgian dark chocolate. Rich and decadent, with a slight bite from chai spices"), which came in a small, tall ceramic cup. A bit claustrophobic for my spoon, but the taste more than made up for it. There was a minty coolness as it goes down, followed by a slight spicy burn (which I'm not particularly fond of). Still, overall, a refreshing flavour, which isn't always the case with anything chocolate as rich chocolate can have a heaviness to it. The portion was quite fair for the price.

Two teas, one savory, one dessert -- plus tax and 15% tip the total came to $23.70. That works out to just about $6 per item (or about $5 before tip.) If you're used to Starbucks prices, then ShakTea is definitely worth a trip just for the amazing variety (helpfully navigated by very knowledgeable staff) of interesting sips and bites to be had, in a calm oasis amid a busy part of town. In the late afternoon, when there are fewer patrons, it's a nice little spot for a get-together.

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