Sometimes I go slow, sometimes I go quick… I love puttering, going up and down every street, every block. Stopping to check out any and all shops that catch my eye. But our first hunt for Canadian goods put us to the test – it was a total stressfest, and I didn’t want a repeat. We went for days hunting down the goods and even extended our trip.
So this trip it was decided, our plan was simple – go hard until we knock out everything on our list. No stopping for shops that aren’t office-supplies related. But then we walked by a shop with a window display that held my attention. I was making a mental note to hit this spot later when I noticed one of the gals inside waving at me and yelling out, “Hi.” Ever peek into a shop or stare at a window display when a shopkeeper notices you and waves? Or maybe they walked to the door to greet you? That one time way back when you were on vacation in some small town, somewhere far and remote?
How could I walk away from someone waving me in and smiling? It’s like they’re sending me a big hi-five. Would you deny them some love? Not me. We were on a mission, yes. But sometimes shit doesn’t go as planned and it’s a good thing. We walked in and next thing you know, another gal offers us a taste of locally made bitters served up warm in a champagne flute. Fancy love.
The gals, Carra and Riadh, are super excited to tell us about all the things we’re tasting, the aromas we’re smelling. They point out different tools they use to serve and make tea. They even demonstrate how to grind green tea leaves to make matcha powder. And a total surprise, we learned that Vancouver has the largest matcha market outside of Japan.
And the star treatment doesn’t stop – the shop owner, Pedro, walks up and introduces himself to us. He’s super animated, talking nonstop about the various teas. Pedro spent some time in Asia and fell in love with the tea and culture. He returned from his trip determined to share his love of tea. Before he managed to secure investors for his shop, he peddled tea out of his car. This is super risky for anyone, but try doing it when you have a wife and four kids to support? You got to be seriously passionate and driven to risk the livelihood of the people you love most.
We discussed various teas from Korea and then it’s on – we’re goin’ nonstop about the different islands of South Korea, cities we visited, our favorite types of Korean tea, how Koreans love drinking, especially someone’s homemade makali… Full circle – we’re back to discussing tea in the shop. I’m interested in the teas he stocks from Korea. Pedro hunts down rare and small-batch teas, working closely with only a few select farmers. I sampled a rare blend from Korea, the Balhyocha Saebyok tea. It’s a special harvest made in really small batches. 10 kilos produced per year. It tasted grassy, fresh, nutty, and of persimmons. Sounds weird? It wasn’t. It was amazing.
I love that O5 is a beautiful shop where people can learn about and discover different ways to enjoy tea. But what I love most? Pedro created an amazing space that’s super inviting to anyone who wants to get a taste of his passion. We can totally relate – it’s why we do what we do. RAD AND HUNGRY is our way of sharin’ the joy of what we love with everyone.
(STMT X Canada Sourcing Trip – photos RAD AND HUNGRY)
O5 Rare Tea Bar, West 4th, Opened August 2012
2208 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, V6K 1P2, Canada