Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tsujiri Soba Bar, North York 2nd Fl Cafe

O-Matcha Platter

I finally got to try out Tsujiri's expansion into meals and it was definitely a good experience.  Located on the 2nd floor, the Tsujiri Soba Bar offers a different menu from the main floor drinks and desserts.  Although I enjoyed my meal (the broth was thick and savoury, noodles were al dente), the desserts definitely stand out in front.  My group tried out the O-Matcha dessert platter and the Mochi Mix.

Both desserts were very tasty and were not too sweet which is typical of Asian desserts.  Loved the different textures of each component within the platter and the matcha ice cream had a decent amount of matcha flavour.  The mochi mix also offered a contrast of flavours and textures however, it would be nice have a have slightly larger mochi pieces ;).

We also tried the noodles, below is the Miso Tsuke Soba, Sapporo Style.  Noodles are chilled but the broth warms them up.

Service was excellent and I liked how they offered hot or cold water as we were seated (it was pretty cold that day).  There space is very calming and it wasn't too busy for lunch on the weekend.  Next on my list - the afternoon tea set!

Visited: OCT2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Tea from Wistaria and some personal thoughts

Wistaria - Signature Dong Ding Oolong

I've been mulling over what is to become of my little blog and whether "a" it was still a worthwhile endeavour and "b" whether I wanted to focus this blog a little more or leave it to be a mixture of things in my life.  I actually wrote this back in the middle of summer when I had several posts to write but never finished writing for various reasons.  And after writing I wanted to sit on it.  We'll,  I guess I sat for a very long time!

I do still think it's worthwhile for me to continue writing in this space but the focus part is the hard thing. I have thought about the type of content and when I first started blogging, I had a tea focused blog.  Then I gave that blog up and started this blog and one of my goals was to share things about my hobbies and what it was like living in Toronto through eating and social events.  But that quickly went to the wayside when soon after starting, I became a mother and priorities changed.  

I now realize I had too many hobbies and could not focus or really put my whole heart into them.

A pic from the past: Sewing coin purses and needle felting were among my hobbies.

I needed to come back to the initial reason for blogging. What I am really after when I think about blogging?  It was a space to practice writing and an opportunity for me to learn and share something.  

I came across a post on Medium about making 7 figures in 3 years and most of the time I ignore these types of titles (although a little more $$ is always nice, lol!), but I decided to skim through it because of a quote in the subtitle:

“Don’t be addicted to money. Work to learn. Don’t work for money. Work for knowledge.” — Robert Kiyosaki

Learning is something I enjoy doing (sounds kinda awkward to say, I know).  I'm the first to admit that I can be lazy at times because who wouldn't want to just sit back and drink tea all day?!  :)

But, I'm the little girl that wanted to go to kindergarten full day when it was only half day kindergarten and the school had to tell my mom to keep me home.  I took summer school to gain extra credits despite taking enough during the regular year.  I know, a little bit of a geek.  Today, it's much harder to learn when the reality of being an adult and parent doesn't allow for much personal learning aside from learning to "parent" or what might be needed for your job.  That type of learning never stops, but that type of learning is not solely for yourself.  The learning that I strive for is what grows me as a person and satisfies my innate need for something "new".

If you do read the above mentioned post, it talks about learning by teaching and I firmly believe it is a quick way to learn something and is how I often find something gets committed to my memory. 

So, here is where this blog comes in.  I continually try to gain time for TEA.  Learning about tea, preparing tea, and drinking tea.  I've also become much more attuned to the "tea experience" in which, tea accessories, tea snacks/desserts, flowers and plants, poetry and art all have a role in how we experience tea.  

I haven't worked out too much about what I'll be posting on and in some ways I think I have a fear of boxing myself in. I've even considered starting a whole new blog. However, for the time being I'm going to leave things as is with the goal to focus more on documenting my tea experience if it requires more than what I'd want to post on Instagram...whether it is just a collection of photos of a tea session, a post about a book I read, a recipe for something to go with tea, or maybe a more informative piece on tea, like tea and health.  My instagram @tiantiantea is already a tea based account so this would likely be more an extension of that - living a life of tea - are words that I've been thinking about.

While thinking about this blog, I enjoyed this Dong Ding Oolong tea from Wistaria Tea House in Taipei. They started taking online orders this year so I jumped at the chance to order a few items. Mmmm, thinking back I have to brew it again this weekend!

Beautiful colour and clarity

Large leaves, slightly oxidized.

After brewing, you can see how slightly agitating the leaves during production to create browning at the edges of the leaf creates such beauty.  I also came across a post on defining oolong tea as more than just mid-oxidized teas which is often what I would say to someone new to tea, but really, oolongs are about the gentle process as described here. So much more to oolong tea than just the oxidation level!

Till next time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Shangri-la Hotel Afternoon Tea (2)

This was my second time at Shangri-la Hotel for their Afternoon Tea and it was once again a great experience.  Afternoon tea is a special treat that I usually reserve for special occasions and this year for my birthday, this is one of two afternoon teas I had scheduled. This time I ordered the Shanti Gold which was a blend of Asian black teas - bold enough to pair with the food but without much astringency that I didn't need to add milk or sugar.

They still offer a large selection of teas, some of which would have an additional cost if selected.  My friends found it helpful that they short-listed the teas that would be included without an additional fee and made the decision easier than looking through the book.  They still offer an iced version of the tea which is great but this time around instead of brewing it table side, they brought a huge pitcher when my friend ordered the Assam iced.  Tasted good at the start but would have been better to brew a small amount and re-brew as needed as the large pitcher resulted in diluted tea later.

Complimentary drink to start (prosecco or mocktail).

And now onto the food!

Tower of treats.

The savouries:

Ratatouille with Buffalo Mozzarella

Sweet peas, asparagus, lemon ricotta on sour dough - so refreshing, simple yet elegant!

Snow crab tart, this was also a really great combination of flavours.

Virginia ham and cheddar cheese on a brioche bun

The sweets:
Rhubarb sponge cake

Raspberry & pecan cookie: surprisingly my favourite sweet of the afternoon.
The cookie was slightly chewy, sweetness was well balanced with a bit of tartness from the raspberry. 

Yuzu macaron, nicely made but we couldn't really taste the wasabi.

A classic, strawberry shortcake, well made.

Pineapple Upside Down Tart and Chocolate & Mint Tart; both were good.  The Chocolate & Mint Tart was the sweetest of the bunch.

And scones that came separately, served with clotted cream and a berry compote.

Prices have gone up since my first visit, Shangri-La now charges $75/person for afternoon tea which is the priciest in the Toronto market now, even with the complimentary prosecco I think.  

Our spot was more private this time and was elegant as usual.  However, I think next time I'd ask to be sitting with more of a window view - to take advantage of more natural light for pics!  
All in all, a lovely experience!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tea and shades of purple

A few weeks ago sampling some sheng (raw) puer tea.

And trying to capture the afternoon light.

The young tea leaves

One morning this cherry plum tree stole my attention with it's blossoms. 

Enjoying the blossoms with a lightly oxidized oolong from Alishan...

...And used a plum blossom motif tea cup I bought on a whim prior to moving into our new home.

Some tiny ground flowers that sprung up 

Some started to wilt after several days.

I was never a flower or plant person...
..maybe it's age, 
maybe it's looking at life differently, 
maybe it's the surprise beauty and the uncertainty of when they will wither that makes me take time to admire them...
but I've come to think of them as "nice to have" these days.  
Especially with tea.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Finding time

I'm always looking for time...time to do daily chores, time to spend with my family, time with friends, and time to enjoy tea.


Sunday...a couple of Sunday's ago, it was such a beautifully sunny day.  I could have been doing some chores like cleaning but instead, I spent 30 minutes drinking tea (Alishan Jin Xuan oolong which was perfect for my mood) and admiring a new plant I had purchased from Kim's Nature the day before.

How enjoyable it was!


Sometimes in this world where information is transferred at a click of a mouse, news can spread across the world in minutes and people can weigh-in with their opinion on just about anything, I wonder about the future of blogging.  Blogging used to be a snap-shot of someone's life and thoughts at a particular moment but now each post is carefully crafted and some are drafted days or weeks in advance.  Myself included, I have many posts drafted but for whatever reason, I never posted.  Blogging also has become more time consuming that more people opt for something quicker with a greater reach like Instagram and Twitter or whatever other app that is popular now.  Many of the blogs I started reading are no longer updated as people move happens, life changes priorities. I also think younger people don't start blogs least not in the general sense...the younger generation start websites.

Anyway, I do think about my blog and how little time I spend writing here.  My lifestyle has also changed and I feel a change is needed.  Not sure exactly what I want this blog to evolve into but I feel it's time.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Tsujiri - North York location

Love this location!

I'm a bit biased though since I'm just a five minute walk away, and although I've moved away, it really is an upgrade from their downtown location.  The design is a bit more stylish and there is more space and seating.  When you're paying premium prices you expect a little more; a place to sit while having your matcha ice cream is much appreciated.  This post is actually long overdue as this was back when it was a balmy 18 degrees and not -30 degrees!  And I contemplated not posting because it just seemed too long ago but it was an enjoyable experience and after reading this blog post from sho & tell where she writes about preserving moments, reflecting on the past as a way to being alert, awake and aware, I decided to post.

If not for pictures, I don't think I would remember much of things that happened.  Also, I think Tsujiri is planning to open a second floor at this location which will likely serve food as there was a bowl of green tea noodles pictured on the sign hinting at the coming addition.  This post would be a good reminder to keep an eye open for this.

On my first visit I picked up a matcha latte.  The matcha was carefully whisked in a bowl with a chasen (bamboo whisk) before adding it to my latte which I appreciated.  It may take a little longer for your order because of this but they are preserving the way matcha is made and taking it a little slower is not a bad thing.  The latte wasn't too sweet nor too bitter, it was a pleasant matcha taste but I think I prefer slightly stronger tasting matcha.

On my second visit, my friend had ordered the hot matcha latte and also a matcha daifuku.  I'll only comment on the daifuku though.  The skin is extremely thin, I'm really surprised that it held the contents inside and didn't split open!  It's very soft and I would expect it to be somewhat chewy to be able to hold the filling in but it was on the softer side.  It was filled with matcha powder and a matcha cream filling, actually LOTS of cream filling.  I actually preferred having more mochi rather than cream. Taste was light though, and not extremely sweet which is how some people like it.

I ordered the matcha shaved ice with matcha soft serve. Nicely presented and enjoyed the flavours.  Sharable, but I could definitely finish this on my own!

I've also bought their matcha powder and sencha tea bags.  Both were on the mild side so it'll be nice if they could introduce a stronger tasting matcha. 

Here are some interior shots: 

Seating at the front

Dividing section between ordering area and more quieter seating

Back table and stools, beautifully lit.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New View

Farewell 2017

For a good part of the year we were home hunting.  I say home instead of house because we planned on finding a slightly bigger condo and never even considered a house due to sky rocketing housing prices in Toronto and our own lifestyle choices...but as fate would have it, we found a house.

Despite the lack of furniture, walls still to be painted and a host of other things, it's a good house.  It's home.  It felt like home very early on.  The first morning after we spent our first night at the of four on one bed...I looked out the window and it was no longer rows of buildings and people bustling along, but a row of trees and a substantial pine tree in our backyard.  It felt right and I knew then we had made the right decision.

Last year turned out to have much uncertainty, be quite disruptive and we had to re-think a lot of things.  I also think I made some bad decisions and didn't do as much of the things I hoped to have done nor improved on things I had a chance to do again. The year wasn't all bad as I still ate well 😆 , watched my children grow and spent time with family.  But I think 2017 will be remembered as the year we found our home or forever home as some would say.  Our agent had much patience with us and we learned the process was much harder than we anticipated.  We are definitely glad we didn't settle for something early on and through luck or some divine intervention, we weren't successful with getting some other places which was actually a blessing.  I'm glad the year is done though. 

Despite much work ahead in 2018, I'm looking forward to all the work and also the challenges that have come with parenthood.  Much of this was sparked by becoming more settled into the house but also by a passage in a book I was gifted for Christmas.

I love receiving books as gifts and I especially love tea books!  Thankfully, my partner got me the book Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang.  I got a chance to start reading it and it is a wonderfully informative book!  There is so much to say about it  but one section early in the book stuck out; how Puer tea from the town of Yiwu was essentially revived by tea connoisseurs from Taiwan.  Upon a pilgrimage to Yiwu in 1994 to get more aged Puer, they found the town was run down, not what they expected and knowledge of aging Puer tea seemed lost..."the Puer tea industry had been inactive there for almost half a century" (pg. 42).  However, they didn't give up and persisted in working with the local government and had samples of the aged tea to guide them in their pursuit. Eventually the industry was revived.

Upon reading this right before the start of 2018, I knew 2018 was going to be a year of hard work and persistence.  PERSISTENCE being key as there are a number of things in my life right now that make life challenging, but instead of giving up or feeling down, I know it is time to pull my energy up and deal with these challenges and work hard for the things that I want to achieve.

Hope 2018 is energizing for you all!

Hello 2018!

P.s. I recently subscribed to receive emails from Nicole Gulotta, author of Eat This Poem and it's been awesome!!  Not only does she write well, but she also provides links to other great reading material.  Check her blog out here.  Her most recent email tells us of her word for 2018, SPACE, which I also really like as I've been thinking about space and having space to myself.  Anyway, lots of good stuff from this author!