O5 Tea Bar is located on West 4th in Kitsilano. The O stands for origin and the 5 represents the five forces of nature because at O5 they carefully research where the tea comes from and the environment it is grown it. They select the highest quality tea and focus only on the tea itself, so there are no additives in the teas. The tea is all sourced from China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and the Himalayas and Pedro the owner visits all of these countries and selects each tea they carry in the store. The selection of tea is constantly changing due to seasonality.
The store has a long communal table where you can sit down and watch how they prepare your tea. They have a cool stone grinder that grinds up matcha leaves into powder. They sell all of their teas in take home packages, but this is also a place to come with friends and enjoy a cup of tea in the store.
I was invited here along with some other bloggers to taste and learn about their tea. They prepared us all a matcha shot with matcha from Japan. I normally drink matcha in lattes, so this was the first time I’ve had just a pure shot of it. It’s pretty strong stuff and definitely not for the beginner tea drinker. It has an earthy, slightly bitter taste that tastes almost like seaweed. That description makes it sound gross, but it wasn’t unpleasant. This is a healthier alternative to an espresso shot.
The next drink was called the issha special. It was a herbal tea made with hibiscus flowers from Mexico along with a mixture of orange juniper bitters, a sprig of rosemary, and candied ginger. This was a very unique tasting tea that had a floral aroma and taste. The smell reminded me of plant nursery because of the mixture of sweet flowery hibiscus and a piney earthy juniper and rosemary.
My favourite tea of the night was an aged oolong tea that was harvested in 1991. Before coming here I didn’t even know that aging teas was a thing. This tea has been roasted over charcoal and it has a smokey caramel like taste. The flavour was rich and amazing considering it was just pure tea. I loved this tea so much I bought a package of it to take home and it is my new favourite tea.
They also prepared a black tea for us (I forget the name of it). I rarely drink pure black tea, as I’m more of a green, white, or oolong fan, but this was pretty good. It didn’t have a strong bitter aftertaste that I find most black teas have and it was pleasant to drink.
As someone who loves tea, I was really impressed with my whole experience at O5. The staff are so knowledgeable and passionate about tea it was really cool to learn from them. The teas they serve are special and delicious. They are pricier than your average tea, but they are the best of the best. I can’t say enough good things about this store and if you are a tea fan you would love it.