Monday, June 07, 2010

Japanese Cherry White Tea

WHEN YOU STEP into Michi, there is a particular scent in the air, like mimosa and leather and iris. It is yet to be established whether the scent is intentional ambiance or the result of the new leather furniture in this spanking new café: Michi Waffle and Espresso Bar is a Japanese dessert and beverages cafe that opened on Robson less than 3 months ago, in March 2010. Besides espresso and waffles, they also offer a nice selection of small desserts (Madeleines, tuiles, and the most amazing matcha shortbread I have ever tasted in my life), plus fascinating Japanese smoothies such as matcha with red bean, and fresh taro root. I only discovered it now and it instantly became a favourite spot for neither espresso nor waffles (which I am yet to try), but… tea!

And to be more precise, their organic Japanese cherry white tea. I picked that tea first for a reason - I thought it could serve as a good indicator of the quality of teas overall in that location. Cherry flavours (and cherry-flavoured teas are no exception) are usually very artificial-tasting with a fierce bitter-almond aroma that I’m not fond of at all. I was hoping the fact that it is labeled as “organic” makes for a high probability that there will be none of the artificial flavouring. Thankfully, I was not only spared the bitterness, but also pleasantly surprised: As it turns out, this particular tea is stunning!

The white tea leaves are lightly infused with the light aroma of cherry blossoms: a delicate floral aroma that is a little hard to describe, but has a transparent, floral-nutty and soft texture. There is no bitterness from either the tea leaf or the cherry blossoms. It’s exceptionally beautiful and I only wish I have discovered it earlier, as it would have made a wonderful way to celebrate the sakura season while it still lasted. Oh well, there is always next year!

The other teas at Michi all seem rather promising, or at least decent, including organic jasmine green tea, English Breakfast, Assam, Earl Gray, a few Rooibos flavours and a selection of herbal teas that includes the more obscure rose petals and osmanthus blossom. All teas are served in individual glass teapots that are re-steeped upon request up to several times (and must, because the tea becomes too strong after a while – so be sure to request for more water or remove the strainer before it gets to that point). In fact, I think that a teapot might be better for sharing with another person. Which is really how all teas should be served in, rather than a paper cup with a tea bag.

And there is something to be said about the atmosphere at this place –the décor is sleek and minimalist with dark leather furniture and hardwood floors, an whole spread of fashion magazine in English and Japanese, and a nice lounge by the front windows with couches that would make for a perfect spot for catching up with a few friends. And if you come here alone the staff is as friendly and helpful as you could ever hope for.

Michi is located on 1319 Robson Street, corner with Jervis. Tel. (604) 568-8750

P.s. this article was originally posted June 3rd but was accidentally deleted due to Blogger tech issues today. I have recovered it and posted it again.

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