Updated: 21st Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.
I am not much of a tea person, neither is Suanne. The only tea we had ever had on a regular basis is the Ice Milk Tea we get from HK Style Cafe.
So, when we got an invite to a Tea Cocktail event we jumped on this. Pearl Drops Teahouse also extended the invite to readers of chowtimes. We posted the invite a few weeks ago and we were very surprised how well known Pearl Drops is to the tea discerning public.
I tried to rally Doesnt Tazte Like Chicken and Sea Salt With Food to attend this together. Doesnt Tazte Like Chicken came but Sea Salt With Food sent apologies saying she can’t get away.
Suanne and I does not normally travel to this part of town where Pearl Drops is located. They are conveniently located on the junction of Willingdon and Hastings in Burnaby. Locating the place is a no brainer and parking is also easy (free!).
We went early … like 30 minutes before the event started at 7PM. Our plan is to have tea, spend a little time here and then go for a later dinner with Christina and ET. It was a good decision because the place was absolutely packed when the event got started.
The man behind Pearl Drops Teahouse is Phong Vo. He started this teahouse with his wife, Huyen, about 3.5 years ago. They had always been running the business from this location since day 1. It was a great pleasure meeting Phong who came across to us as humble and friendly. He is not only knowledgeable about all things tea but we found out that he also cooks.
I was rather intrigued by the Tea Seminars poster Phong had put up … particularly the one that says Food and Tea Pairing. That’s like wow … $39. I had heard about wine pairing with fine food but with tea? Phong does really take tea to the next level … like making tea a gourmet drink of sorts.
I got to try one of these meals one day. I don’t know what to expect but I just gotta try it! For that kind of money, it better be good. :-p
In this event, Phong was showcasing three of his signature Tea Cocktails. So what exactly is it? To simply put, it is freshly brewed tea combined with fresh fruit … that’s what my impression was. Suanne loves this a lot.
The one above is called the Solar Flare ($6). It is made of Japanese Karigane Green Tea, Fresh Kumquats and Lemon/Lime. It is noticeably very refreshing for a tea.
The crunchy kumquats are edible, of course. It is like miniature oranges except that you eat it whole … the sweet rind and the sour juicy centers gives a nice little contrast to the taste.
Pearl Drops uses only the best of ingredients. Melody showed us a little bit of the Japanese Green Tea they use to make the tea cocktails. We were told that they only use the stem and stalk (not the leaves) which gives the tea the extra mellowness.
Each tea is steeped with perfect timing and at consistent temperature. The process looked pretty elaborate to us.
Also, they use only the minimal amount of sugar to make the beverage taste better, not to make it overly sweet. They do not touch up their fresh fruit with artificial syrups at all.
They also had three types of Hor’ Dourves that night. The Coconut Curry Chicken ($8) is normally served with rice but for this night they served it with baguettes. It smells good and the taste of the curry is fresh. We like this … so rich of spices and yet hardly any need for hotness.
The Nightingale (also $6) is a Chrysanthemum Herbal Tea with Fresh Oranges, Ginger, and Lemon/Lime. I prefer the Solar Flare better than this. It’s an exotic combination but it does blend so wonderfully well. Oh, BTW, despite the name cocktail, these are virgin cocktails.
The above is the Red Lychee Cocktail. OK, you guys … it is pronounced as “lie-chee” not “lee-chee” OK? LOL. This is made up of cranberry juice, blood orange, lychee black tea and lemon/lime. It is a bit kind of foamy right? The foam is from the shaking of the tea prior to serving.
We also had the Mate and Spice Marinated Pork. It was minty to taste and fragrant and juicy too.
The place was absolutely packed with hardly any standing room. It was a good thing that we were there early and managed to have a comfortable table to savour the drinks and food.
For once, we met up with fans of chowtimes. It felt kind of weird if you ask me … having people coming up and asking if we were “Ben and Suanne” like we’re somebody but honestly it also felt good. LOL! Anita introduced herself to us and we had a good time chatting with her and learned that she must start her own food blog. Jenny of My Secret Eden came by to say “hi” too.
It was the first time Phong had an open house and clearly the response he got was beyond what he imagined. So in the end we only managed to get smaller samples but at least we got to try the last of the three cocktails.
Pearl Drops Teahouse also sells tea leaves too. My eyes were all glazed over reading them. For a person like me who cannot tell Oolong from Darjeeling I vowed to start learning more about tea … someday.