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By Kathy Mak After a spot of shopping in the vibrant South Granville strip of Vancouver, step around the corner to find Soffee Café, a dining haven nestled away on a quiet side street. Behold one of the city’s more laid-back, cozy afternoon tea experiences.  You’ll feel right at home in this quaint parlour-style café serving a tempting selection of handcrafted sweet and savoury fare, along with Afternoon Tea services done differently. What makes Soffee Café memorable is its relaxed charm and enticing array of in-house made food.  Step inside and you’ll discover comfy interiors adorned with antiques aplenty and an eclectic mix of flowery china.  You’ll quickly settle into this inviting space that feels more like an intimate living room than a café. The vintage ambiance sets the scene for an elegant, but unpretentious, afternoon tea experience that forgoes etiquette for a fresh twist on a posh tradition.  There…

by Catherine Dunwoody Tea time in Yaletown just got much more interesting, and authentic. Cha Le (pronounced chah•luh), which translates to Happy Tea) features more than 20 high-quality, handpicked teas for take home in large tins and small boxes, beautifully designed by Vancouver-based branding firm Glasfurd & Walker, as well as a full-service tea cafe serving a rotating list of proprietary teas, blends, tea lattes, herbal infusions and a small bites menu. The new Yaletown Cafe is not your typical Chinese teahouse – think   a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled glass vacuum brewing system that customizes temperature and brewing times for each individual tea to ensure optimal results. But don’t think you’ll be sitting around waiting for a good steep. Most teas can be ready within 90 seconds, less than the time it takes to make an espresso latte. Whaa? We know right? Now let’s chat about food, shall we? Not only does…

by Catherine Dunwoody Health enthusiasts know the benefits of drinking green tea, especially matcha, due to the fact that the bright green stuff is rich in antioxidants, boosts memory and energy levels, plus detoxifies the body. New Whisk Premium Matcha is the brainchild of Richmond, BC entrepreneur Kimmy Xiao, and this mother of two is pretty stoked about finding, and sharing, the highest quality out matcha out there. Sourced in Kyoto, Japan, this organic tea is brought in for Xiao’s Whisk brand, then packaged right in Richmond before selling to us online or at select stores throughout the GVRD, including Pure Barre Studios. Three different grades of matcha are available (including the esteemed Pinnacle Gold), plus a selection of accessories and beautifully packaged gift sets just in time for the holidays. Xiao states that “we want to bring this authentic artisanal matcha experience to people’s everyday life while promoting a…

By Lenée Son Located in the agricultural centre of Surrey, 20 minutes from the USA border, the Honeybee Centre is buzzing with things to do and eat. As a commercial honey farm, the Centre produces their own natural honey which you can taste and purchase at their Country Store. They also have a Visitor Centre, where you can learn about the amazing world of the honeybee through a tour or beekeeping course. Their latest creation, Fry’s Corner Beestro, offers a divine dining experience in a modern greenhouse dining room. Whether you are a honey connoisseur, a beekeeping aficionado, or you are looking for an educational activity to bond over with your little ones, The Honeybee Centre has something for you. Fry’s Corner Beestro Indulge in a decadent honey inspired menu at the Honeybee Centre’s Fry’s Corner Beestro, a revamped modern greenhouse turned bistro. A favourite on their seasonal menu is…

By Catherine Dunwoody Photos by Nicol Spinola Photography With over 150 types of tea sold, New Westminster’s Great Wall Tea Company, located in the River Market since 2010, has one of the most impressive selections in the lower mainland. With that much choice however, teatime could make your head spin a little. We asked co-owner of the shop, Lauren Bowler, for some tips on what tea can offer, so we can choose what suits us best. Catherine Dunwoody: First off, how did you get into the tea business? Lauren Bowler: I work primarily as an actor, but I was very intrigued by the idea of operating a small business. My business partner, Sean Smith, was also very interested in small start-ups and we knew we wanted to operate in a public market environment. I’ve had a passion for tea since high school, so when we brainstormed businesses we thought would both…

By Visit Richmond BC Afternoon tea is a long-standing British tradition that has become an international food craze. Tea shops and eateries are now offering tea service all over the world and Richmond is no exception. With a diverse range of restaurants and cafés serving afternoon tea, here are three of our favourites in Richmond. Sugarholic Café Sugarholic Café at Aberdeen Centre is one of the newest additions to the afternoon tea scene in Richmond. Although the café is decorated in a luxurious European style, Sugarholic is considered a fusion-style tea house. Drawing on flavours from both East and West, the Taiwanese owners offer a variety of teas, including Chinese Rose and Red Date Longan Tea, as well as more traditional teas such as Earl Grey. Almost all of the desserts offered are made in-house. Highlights include the Ferrero Rocher chocolate cake, a triple chocolate cream and Japanese cheesecake. Afternoon…

By Visit Richmond BC If you haven’t tried dim sum before, think of it as Chinese tapas – irresistible dumplings, noodles and fried snacks – that just happen to be the best way to start the day. Literally translated the expression “dim sum” means “touch the heart,” but to those who love Chinese food, what it really means is tender dumplings, fragrant soups, crispy spring rolls, pillowy steamed buns and savoury bites of braised meat. Dim sum is a parade of small plates usually served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and a terrific way to explore one of the world’s great cuisines. The tradition of dim sum originated in the ancient teahouses along the Silk Road in southern China’s Canton province. Travelers would stop for a refreshing cup of tea accompanied with savoury snacks. Back then, the tea was the main point of the meal and still is for…