Tucked away next to the escalators inside River Market, Great Wall Tea packs a lot of taste into a tiny space. While initially I was disappointed not to have a coffee shop open at the Quay, the silver lining is that this has encouraged me to expand my hot drink habits and try tea instead.
Great Wall has so many varieties of loose-leaf tea that it’s hard to know what to taste. I’ve liked everything I’ve tried so far, from the vanilla-infused Cream Earl Gray to the Ginger Rooibos. Plus, they will blend together different teas upon request. I’ve become a fan of a Chamomile-Lavender blend that my favourite Yaletown tea shop O-Cha has dubbed “Sereni-tea.” So soothing with a little honey. Plus, in my last visit I made the welcome discovery that Great Wall Tea is also set up to make tea lattes! I didn’t notice before that they had a milk steamer in the corner. The lovely women who run the shop recommended I try their twist on a London Fog that uses the Cream Earl Gray, and I intend to do just that on my next visit.
At launch there were only a few places to sit and sip, but River Market has now added more tables and benches in the sunny area at the heart of the space earmarked for food vendors, expanding the seating area beyond the barstools and low chairs immediately next to the shop. Plus, public wifi is coming to River Market (hopefully by the end of March, according to Community Services Manager Julie Ramirez), which will make the market a more attractive place for those of us who like a little Twitter with our tea.
Like everyone else who used to frequent the New Westminster Quay before the renovations, I am eager to see the new River Market busy again with cafes, shops and people. Although there are only a few tenants open for business (Donald’s Market, Great Wall Tea, Tiny (disclosure: I have been hired to help launch the store), Pedagogy Toys, Bloom Art Studio and Vancouver Circus School, I am glad to see that they are all quality businesses who share a passion for what they do and for our community.
Great Wall tea is located inside River Market, at 810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster.