Name: Icha Tea
Location: 235 Spadina Ave Unit 4, Toronto, ON M5T 2E2
A hidden tea shop located by what is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to explore, Kensington Market!
The store is divided to 2 parts. The front of the store doesn’t have much seating, it’s more of a takeout kind of situation and they offer bubble tea and other specialty drinks. Icha Tea uses fresh milk instead of powdered creamer in their milk teas. The quality ingredients really does make a difference in the taste!
The back of the store is surprisingly spacious with lots of seating. This is where they serve the more traditional teas at the tea bar. The whole process is interesting and I always have fun here! There’s a pretty large selection of teas to choose from and the tea is brewed right in front of you at the tea bar. The teas are from China (except for the matcha which is from Japan) and they are aromatic and refreshing. The staff members are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to selecting a tea. There’s a large selection of white teas, green teas, oolong teas, black teas and dark teas.
After the tea selection you get to pick your own tea cups! There are so many cute cups to choose from. I’m an extremely indecisive person and when given so many choices I tend to get very flustered. Needless to say, this was a very long process for me. It took me longer to pick my tea cup than it did for me to pick the actual tea. The cups are just so little and cute!
Once you’ve selected your tea and tea cup, just sit back and enjoy the “show”. They make the tea in front of you at the tea bar. It’s almost like a little tea ceremony each time they brew a fresh pot. Instead of the tea being brewed directly in the teapot, the tea is actually brewed in a separate cup/bowl which is then transferred to your tea set. The first batch of tea is actually poured out and not served. This is because the first batch is meant to “wake” the tea leaves up.
As far as desserts go, they don’t have much in terms of selection. However, everything is made fresh and in house. I highly recommend the sesame tofu cheesecake. I was nervous about the tofu part but I couldn’t taste it at all! The cheesecake itself is not too dense (it’s light like a Japanese cheesecake) and has a really flavorful sesame taste.
The tea bar area is really peaceful and it doesn't get too noisy. It’s a perfect place to catch up on some reading and de-stress.