Kensington business creates a complete sense of relaxation where harmony meets meditation

With its dragon logo as a signpost, the Oolong Tea House in Calgary’s Kensington shopping area bustles with energy. Its aroma of tealeaves and rarity blends makes it a sensational revitalized spot for Calgarians and tourists of all ages.

Peer in through the windows of this tea house and your exhaustion will be erased.

Immediately upon entering, you have the feeling of a good vibe. A colourful, urban mural welcomes you as you walk in. Natural light pours from two enormous windows, illuminating its bordering of forest-green framework. Nine blonde, rectangular-shaped tables are placed in a row of threes, and another sits against the windows—this way the people walking by and crossing the street can be seen with a turn of your head.

Instrumental Zen music plays from an iPod, put just loud enough to allow for patrons to have face-to-face conversations. Sitting here is a good way to spend your time, in idyllic ambience, far removed from the rest of the world. There is no pressure to leave whatsoever. You can compare it to afternoon tea in the Victorian era, where there was a time just for tea.

Loose-leaf teas supplied from distributers worldwide are shelved and arranged beautifully.

Photo by Ingrid HoLike its name says, you can enjoy a fresh tea, in a presser, and there is no need to stop at one fill. You can refill your infused tea, without spending $4 and up on a new brew. With its five, elongated bookcases filled with see-through jars, and lids that lift off, the loose leaf teas are displayed in a way that can be seen and smelled. Classified by the types of teas from Green, White, Herbal, Rooibos, and Black tea, a large variety of flavours await your final choice as the smell wafts to your nose every time the lid pops off the jar.

The tables cozy together where there is just enough arm-space for customers to be comfortable. There are three couples and a group of relatives fully engaged in conversations. One worker flits back and forth between the wall of loose teas and an open counter where he cashes the customers’ orders. The other slices a piece of cheesecake, putting it carefully on a cloud-grey plate. They make ordering tea a hustle, just like a regular coffee shop that people always go to.A group of relatives sit down to chat and share a box of home-bought cookies while winding down with tea on the afternoon of Sunday January 17.

Photo by: Ingrid Ho

Every month, local artists’ artworks are displayed on a wall and sold for $50—the tea house showcases a selection of illustrations on iconic designs. They have spots on hold filled up to July, to display and promote individual art pieces—an excellent chance for an amateur artist to sell their pieces.

From the body heat of the people coming into the teahouse, the back door is opened by the blonde haired female worker—glowing light streams into the tea house. It’s a nice surprise. A decrepit porch makes way for the outside, and a small-sized, auburn coloured table, chairs at either side of the table invite you to sit. The table nestles right up to the wall, which is painted with a wallflower scenery. During summertime, the back patio of Oolong tea house is the best place to catch up with a friend, or just sit down and read a few pages of a book.

Regulars come back for four specific loose leave teas that Oolong Tea House has and that no other tea shop in Calgary carries. The Black Market Spice from Seattle is one of them. There are different kinds of this tea, but it’s the oil that clings to the side of the clear jar and it makes it real. A rare, white tea called Adam’s Peak comes from the sacred mountain in Sri Lanka, where the tea farm only makes 30 kilograms on a weekly basis. “It’s a beautiful white tea.” co-manager Melanie Goodfellow, recommends. Another, the Jade Oolong, a herbal tea, is a creamy blend most come back for. The Earthly Paradise Jasmine, which is infused, is “super special” because it’s steamed underneath a mist, while the fake, uses an oil to smell like Jasmine.

Adam’s Peak, a popular white tea, is the perfect match for the Matcha cupcake. The pieces of donated porcelain plate and teacups introduces a nice neutral simplicity to the setting of Oolong Tea House.

Photo by Ingrid Ho.Going on its 11 years of dedication to more than 150 different teas, and its numbers growing, nothing beats the warm feeling of enjoying a brew of tea in the winter and summer time. It’s not just a regular tea shop, but often with poetry readings, exhibitions, open mic nights every Tuesday, and live music—even board games, to keep you entertained. Once you have placed your foot in, there is no way you are getting out.

ihaudrey@cjournal.ca