Thursday, July 8, 2010

Silk Road Aromatherapy and Tea, Victoria, BC

Hands-on Fun in Chinatown

If you’re in the mood to play and to make use of all five senses, come to Silk Road. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re offered an iced tea sample. The first room is lined with body products; take your time sniffing all the different varieties. And there is also a spa if you are in the mood for some pampering.

The next room is devoted to natural, organic teas and the staff encourages you to take the lids off the storage containers to sniff the contents. I fell for Velvet Potion, which combines black tea, cocoa nibs, and spices. Each container has a recipe or two with suggestions for lattes, iced drinks and other combinations. There are flowering teas, tea bricks, green tea, black tea and herbal tea.

One side of the room is set up like a bar, and there are daily afternoon tea tastings in the summer and weekly in the winter. I participated in the Taste of Chinatown tasting. We tried four different teas:

Ethereal Garden is a flowering tea. The black tea has been carefully hand-tied around a rosebud and lavender blossoms and slowly unfolds in the hot water. It’s a light, delicate tea smelling faintly of roses.

Dragon’s Tears are tiny, handrolled pearls made from the very first leaves. They are steamed and pan fried right away to stop oxidation. The tea is said to represent the tears of a dragon who was guarding a precious pearl until it was stolen by a phoenix.

(Green tea has seven times as much vitamin C as orange juice. Amazing! On the other hand, oolong is supposed to help you lose weight. Take your pick.)

Black Dragon is a semi-green oolong. It has a toasty, nutty smell and taste. I am addicted to oolong teas, but I prefer the Taiwanese oolongs, which are lighter and more floral. But everyone’s tastes are different.

Emperor’s Keemun is one of the most highly-prized, aromatic teas of China. It’s a black tea, with a strong, smoky, bitter flavour. Not my favourite, but I enjoyed watching the staff person prepare it in the traditional Chinese style.

My thanks to Silk Road for answering my request for information and for providing me with a complimentary pass for the tea tasting.

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