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Team Portrait: Jasmin Desharnais, Tea Taster

31 October 2017

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Here at Camellia Sinensis we not only value the quality of our teas but also the quality of our team. How well do you know our four expert tasters ?
This month we’d like to introduce Jasmin Desharnais, co-owner of Camellia Sinensis since 2000.

Jasmin, tell us about your beginnings in the company…

While studying psychology at UQAM during the fall of 1998, I saw a flyer offering a waiter’s job in a teahouse that was about to open. At the time, I often hosted my friends at home with cheap “Gunpowder”, so I thought ‘This was meant to be!’

Following an interview with Hugo (who was painting the red room in the back of the tea house), I was offered the job. The opening was delayed but I was still there to work so I drank a Darjeeling 1st flush instead. My first shifts were Fridays and Saturdays from noon to midnight.

What is your role within the team?

I am officially the vice-president (sounds serious). That means that I am responsible for HR and Operations. I also travel for to Eastern and Western China each spring since 2003 to meet our suppliers, select and source new teas.

Your favourite tea is…

Without a doubt, Anji Bai Chaç, a Chinese green tea that that is back with a vengeance this year. I haven’t seen this kind of quality in years. Maybe I should keep quiet about it as I don’t want it to sell out too quickly!

What is your most recent discovery?

The De Jian Long Zhu, a Guizhou green tea that I personally developed with some Chinese suppliers in the spring of 2017. It had no name at the time so I ha ve baptized it based on its production county (Dejian) and the shape of the leaf (Long Zhu).

At Camellia Sinensis, what are you known for…

I am constantly teasing Kevin and Hugo that the only good teas come from China. (Though I have enjoyed 1st flush Darjeeling every morning for the last 20 years!)

Team Portrait: Vincent Moreau

4 September 2017

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Here at Camellia Sinensis, the one thing more important than the quality of our tea is the people that make it all happen. This month, we’d like to  you to meet Vincent Moreau.

How did you end up working with the company?

I arrived at Camellia Sinensis from my native France as an intern six years ago to do tea market studies. The connection with the team was instant: all real tea enthusiasts! It was like paradise: daily tea tastings to this day!

What is your role in the team?

Over time, I took on different responsibilities within the company. Being of a very social nature, sharing tea is important for me so consulting in the two Montreal stores was a perfect way to continue. I still continue this and am now also responsible for the ‘ESC – Tea at Work’ program where we distribute a specially designed line of tea and teaware for offices and workspaces.  I give regular workshops at the tea school, tastings and events on the road.

Your favorite tea is …

I always had a soft spot for the Gaba Cha, with its woody and spicy notes (cinnamon), as well as for Nadashiko, a Japanese black tea with truly unique character. In general, my tastes tend to gravitate towards Darjeelings and Pu Er. Having said that, over time I have come to realize that the beauty of tea is to choose a tea that fits the feeling, climate and mood. Try it, listen to what tea your body wants to drink.

What was your most recent discovery?

To be honest, tasting the seasonal teas from all corners of our selection and observing the nuances from one harvest to the other, plus feeling the evolution of a tea over the months is a constant discovery … For example, one of my favourite Pu Er has recently developed a rocky and mineral finish that was to subtle to distinguish before. Even if though Shou Pu Er has a slow evolution compared to that of Pu Er Sheng, these are the beautiful subtleties I love to discover.

Team Portrait: Catherine-Emma Tremblay

6 August 2017

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(On the right side of this picture)

At Camellia Sinensis, the quality of our teas has our reputation but the quality of our team makes it all possible. This month, we introduce to you Catherine-Emma Tremblay.

How did you come to work at Camellia Sinensis?

It’s my love for tea and all things tea that brought me to work for Camellia Sinensis back in 2007. I was a loyal client for a long time and eventually, I found myself behind the counter in the teahouse and eventually in the store as a consultant.

What is your role within the team?

Since 2011, I’ve been mainly working out of the offices, where the tea school is located. Part of my role is accounting for the Montreal stores, our online store and the warehouse. I’m blessed to work with such quality people and also a world-class product. To this day, I still have the same passion when it comes to talking and sharing tea with clients and co-workers.

In 2013, I was lucky enough to go to Taiwan and Japan with Hugo during one of his yearly trips as he visits tea suppliers and potters. It was a unique experience and it helped me really grasp all the hard work that goes behind what we believe is a “simple” cup of tea! But trust me, when it comes to Camellia Sinensis, it’s really straight from the garden to the cup.

Your favourite tea is…

Hard to chose only one. Actually, it really depends on the day and also the seasons, but normally I like to begin my day with a black tea. The Darjeeling 1st Flush such as the Thurbo DJ-16 and the Jungpana DJ-3 are my morning favourites these days. Their liquor is just so textured, fruity and spicy.

Tell us about your most recent find.

One of the great things about working at Camellia Sinensis is that you’re always sharing teapots with your collegues. Recently, Josianne made me taste the Jingxian Jin Jun Mei, a Chinese black tea that swept me off my feet with its richness and floral/fruity aromas with a side of cocoa.

I’ve also been really into this Chinese green tea : Anji Bai Cha. Jasmin really made a great find with this one. It has a great balance between its sugary gourmet notes and a stringent delicate side.

Team Portrait: Josiane Monette

20 July 2017

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(Josiane is on the left side)

At Camellia Sinensis, the quality of our teas has our reputation but the quality of our team makes it all possible. This month, we introduce to you Josiane Monette.

How did you come to work at Camellia Sinensis?

After I got weary of selling upscale furniture, I found Camellia Sinensis and I haven’t let go since – that was almost 11 years ago. The funny thing is that I never had tea outside of your “everyday commercial tea” but I thought I’d try interviewing regardless. I got a lucky because they needed seven new employees, (the Jean-Talon boutique was about to open) so my lack of tea knowledge wasn’t a barrier. To be honest, after the first interview, I really felt a good vibe and knew we would all get along– I knew I wanted to work there and be a part of the team. That’s why I was really happy to have been chosen and I can safely say that after 11 years of working for such a humane company, being hired has been a turning point in my life on many levels.

What is your role within the team?

I’ve worn many different hats over the years and what I do on the daily is quite diverse. Part of what I’m responsible for is scheduling for both Montreal stores and the teahouse. I also assist for accounting; I plan workshops for the tea school and also some logistics for events. I give conferences in various venues and also for the tea school. I also try to go to the Jean-Talon store to help out with clients as much as possible. It helps me stay in touch with our awesome clientele and learn about their tastes. Office work can be great, but it’s not the same than face-to-face interactions and a cup of tea.

Your favourite tea is…

A black wulong tea from Taiwan called Gabacha, I can never get tired of drinking it. I find it so comforting with its spicy cinnamon and ripe fruits notes. It makes me daydream which actually works out great because I tend to multi-task, and think up of many projects at once. What’s also great is that if I over infuse it by forgetting it, it won’t turn bitter– actually it’s at its best after a good 8 minutes. Otherwise, I like all Pu Er’s with accentuated earthy notes and my Darjeeling Thurbo morning tea.

Tell us about your most recent find.

With all the new springtime arrivals, it’s hard to make a choice. A tea I recently rediscovered this week is the Jingxian Jin Jun Mei, an excellent Chinese black tea. It has floral and woody aromas and a velvety texture reminiscent of honey. Its finesse is unmatched and its just excellent with croissants and jam on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Team Portrait – Sébastien Collin

7 May 2017

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At Camellia Sinensis, the quality of our teas has our reputation but the quality of our team makes it all possible. This month, we introduce to you Sébastien Collin.

Tell us about how you started at Camellia Sinensis…

I had an immediate friendly connection with these tea ambassadors and related strongly to their desire to democratize tea.  I found the teahouse inspiring and was happy to have an opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic and innovative company. I still have fond memories of the early days: organizing small spaces to manage the inventory, tending to clients at the Emery boutique….and concocting our homemade blends in the back store.

What is your role within the team?

Throughout the years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of many creative initiatives and projects.  I have worked in the development of our stock management, store management, quality control, client servicing, employee training, website content.  I also host various tasting events, write blogs and have been a big part of our educational program and various publications. After years of living my passion for tea in our stores, I am now back in the warehouse dealing with numbers and our ever changing inventory.

Your favourite tea is…

Although not my “every day” tea, the Pu er are my favourites for their fuller and richer taste. They are so powerful and vibrant and can create the feeling of time standing still. The 1992 Menghai Hou Gen Pu Er has a special place in my all time favourites as it brings back fond memories of my travels in China.

What is your most important discovery?

Keeping it simple and basic.  I have learned the value and appreciation of the daily ritual. The importance of delving in with “body-and-soul” when tasting.   A good tea will please me with its aromas, taste, mouthfeel and after taste but also impact my body through stimulation, relaxation and many other more subtle sensations.

Team Portrait – Émilie Poissant

26 March 2017

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At Camellia Sinensis, the team behind the company is as important the quality of our tea and teaware. This month, we’re happy to present you Emilie Poissant, the manager of the Jean-Talon store in Montreal and our in-house pairing specialist.

Émilie, what is your role within the team? 
I’ve been working with the Camellia Sinensis team for 6 years now having previously worked as a pastry chef, cheese expert, chocolate maker and trained as a wine sommelier. With this background you can see how I developed an interest for food pairing. I’ve been managing the Jean-Talon store since September.  I also run four different workshops and conferences, generally pertaining to food pairings between tea and cheese/chocolate.  I am also in charge of elaborating the Table d’Hôte tasting menus for the Tea House.

Your favourite tea is…
That’s a tough one. My everyday morning tea is Kamairicha, a Japanese green tea. Having said that, I’m also very keen on Chinese wulongs from the Wuyi region, notably the Qi Lan Wuyi,  the Rou Gui Da Wang and the Bai Rui Xiang. I have been very loyal to Mr. Nen Yu’s Dong Ding (roasted) from Taiwan recently, as it is very interesting for pairings. I also love the rounder, darker and fuller flavours of Darjeelings and the Autumnal Nepalese teas, or the Chinese Feng Huang Hong Cha.

Can you name us a recent discovery?
It would be the Rou Gui Da Wang but I wouldn’t call it a new tea as it’s been in on sale for a couple of months now. I love its roasted notes that are like grilled nuts, its sweet, mineral finish and its long persistence.

Employee profile – Manuel Legault Roy

21 March 2017

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At Camellia Sinensis, the team behind the company is as, if not more, important than the quality of our teas and teaware. This month, we introduce you to Manuel Legault-Roy, who has worked with us for many years.

Manuel, tell us how you started with the company …

By the end March, I will be celebrating 7 years with the company! Time enough that I have had the chance to wear several hats, including that of editor of the Tea Tasters Blog and assistant-manager at the tea salon.

What is your current role in the team?

Since last December, I have switched role to be in charge of the in-house staff training. Basically, my role is to ensure the smooth circulation of tea information through our entire team, so that everyone in the company can easily find their way through the rich and complex world of tea. To do this I have to make sure that my colleagues are constantly refining their knowledge using various resources (specialized training with our expert tasters on specific points, taking workshops in our Tea Schools, collection and distribution of tea articles, one on one trainings or small group meetings to respond to particular themes and/or issues …).

Your favourite tea is …

I don’t think I am can pick a tea and call it my ultimate favourite, not for any period of time! I tend to appreciate tea, in major phases, by style. For instance, when I was first hired by Camellia Sinensis, I drank a lot of Chinese black tea, with a particular liking for Xiao Zhong and Zhenghe Hong Gong Fu. This phase ended about two years ago, to be replaced by a deep thirst for Japanese green teas, in which I have developed a special affection for Sencha Saitama and Kabusecha Saemidori.

What has been your most recent discovery?

I must admit that my discovery of the year for 2016 was a black tea from China. A rather special tea in fact, as though Chinese, this one was transformed with parameters usually reserved for the black teas of Darjeeling. The Jingning Bai Hong Cha 1st flush from Mr. He represents a curious hybrid whose flavours and aromas were unknown to me. After about 10 years of tasting, it is really fantastic to be able to be completely bowled over by a new tea. So in my book I give this honour to this exceptional experimentation by Mr. He.

Portrait : Mr Wang, skilled craftsman

5 March 2017

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We are proud to see our Yixing collection enriched by an artist as renowned as Mr Wang! We were lucky enough to be introduced to him by Mr. Yen, a celadon artist and friend of ours.

After graduating from the Jingdezhen Ceramic school in 1991, Mr Wang distinguished himself teaching teapot forms, which quickly became his speciality. Since then he has been award many prizes and distinctions. The success of his studio, opened in 1997 confirms his reputation.

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Mr Wang works with Zisha, a variety of dark stoneware that leads to a certain style of pottery. His mastery of traditional techniques gives him the ease to experiment and adapt the conventions of his milieu. Over time, he has even succeeded in modifying the original colour and texture of this clay, which distinguishes him in his art.

In our first collection of his work is a selection high quality teapots, some real treasures. We also picked up a series of more rustic and affordable cups and storage jars designed by Mr Wang and his team.

Team Portrait : Alexis Bernard

9 February 2017

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At Camellia Sinensis, what matters, as much, if not more, than the quality of our tea and teaware, is the team behind the company. This month, we introduce Alexis Bernard, who has worked with us for more than a decade.

Alexis, tell us how you started with the company …
“It’s been twelve years since last December, I can hardly believe it has gone so fast!” I started in the holiday rush, two weeks after the opening of the Quebec boutique. An intense and completely crazy immersion in the world of tea, which I have never regretted! Twelve beautiful years of discovery inspired by a rich and fascinating realm, an incredible gang of enthusiasts and open and curious customers!

What is your role in the team?
“I am a store consultant, workshop leader at the tea school and a lecturer on the road. I also have a few peripheral projects to do with Quebecois ceramics and gastronomic pairings. The gastronomic aspect is particularly motivating; it is new and passionate! I love making new discoveries of pairings with the tea and sharing them with customers and the restaurateurs. Tea is quietly making its place in the world of the sommelier and restaurateur and it really is a lucky privilege for me to be a witness and to be able to contribute.

Your favourite tea is …
“I must admit that I’m a Darjeeling addict. I never tire of the very aromatic 1st flush which Kevin brings, and the Thurbo and Singell are at the top of the list!”

What has been your most recent discovery?
“I had a great liking for the new Taiwanese black tea, Mi Xiang Hong Cha. Magnificently floral and round, it has a very unique style. For pairings, I was really impressed by Bai Rui Xiang, a blawulong from China, already delicious by itself. It never ceases to surprise me with its great versatility in pairings with chocolates, cheeses, oysters, seafood. It pairs with so many different dishes, it is impressive!”

Fabienne Synnott, Our local ceramicist | Shino’s song

11 November 2016

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It’s been nearly two years since her first appearance at the Céramiste d’ici exhibition and it’s safe to speculate that Fabienne Synnott has been kept hand over fist in clay. Her craft has naturally evolved and grown, so much that last summer, she was awarded first prize in the Terre et The contest held by Camellia Sinensis for the tea bowl category. As such, we are very proud to present her work once again.

She mentioned that one of her fondest moments this fall was a “wonderful“  wood-oven firing lead by ceramicist Daniel Gingras. He apparently gave her the “best spot” in his oven and judging from the results, we certainly are happy that he decided to do so.

We were lucky enough to see some of her most recent gas-oven creations: sandstone as well as porcelain made from a type of clay she has recently adopted. With this Grolleg, one can “do wonders with glazes’’, she claims.

Like all true artists, Fabienne is constantly pushing the envelope.  She shared with us her most recent exploration: ash-based glazes. Truth be told, we cannot wait to see her take on that ancient technique – she promised a November sneak peak.

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As her craft evolves, she continues to explore the shino style and keeps creating world class pieces: “In reduction firing, you can sometimes hear the shinos singing. I believe it’s because I’ve listened carefully. Ever since I was allowed into the shino realm twelve years ago, I’ve been learning continuously, piece after piece”.

Beyond creating tea accessories, Fabienne also crafts everyday objects that not only are pleasing to the eye but are quite useful in our daily lives. Come down and see what she’s been cooking!

 
 

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