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Belle Humeur: Our Newest Tisane

20 March 2019

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Tisanes: A Beverage on the Rise

It’s not long ago that herbal infusions were associated with Grandma’s night-time tonic. But beyond the traditional and very obvious camomile, these plants hold infinite array of taste, flavours, benefits and scents. In fact, the market is trending heavily in that direction; “44% of tea drinkers also drink natural herbal teas, which is a 17% increase compared to 2015″. (La Presse, ATTC). We’ve noticed that our Camellia Sinensis clients, this trend has translated into a 90% bump in sales in the last 4 years.

Consumers are also putting more importance on the quality and origin all the food products they purchase, be it for coffee, tea or wine. So tisanes often called ‘botanicals’, are no exception. As the demand for local and premium products grows we constantly strive to evolve our catalogue creatively to bring to you new experiences. Thus our latest concoction: La Belle Humeur. We’ve developed this new blend in collaboration with the Herbalist La Maria located in St-Michel-de-Bellechasse.
How do we create these new blends?

The process is relatively straight forward. the project was to introduce a new tasting experience, with a product that was available year long. Our partners then met up with Jasmin and recommended a few plant options that would lend themselves to the very diverse and extreme Quebec climate. At that point, we went through a long tasting and blending process to create this very distinct herbal blend for our collection.

Visual, delicious and rich with properties

A very warm infusion, its floral and citrus notes are predominant. The finish is more nuanced with sweetness and a vegetal delivery. The silky texture and delicate taste is feels like a beautiful summer day.

La Belle Humeur is a blend of marjoram, lemon basil, raspberry, calendula and rose petal which makes it a valuable ally for both the digestive and nervous system. In fact, it named as such by Elodie, one of the Camellia team who trained as a professional naturopath, who was inspired by its benefits.

Discover this organic botanical treat for its beauty and its taste!

Maple Tea Studio: A Simple Pairing

17 March 2019

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A long time coming

Creating a 100% pure and authentic maple tea was a challenge we were definitely up for! Our starting point was clear: the taste of black tea with a hint of maple syrup. We had been toying with the idea of this tea for a few years but we were never quite able to get the results we wanted. The main reason was our insisting on a 100% natural tea without all the artificial flavours usually used.

Finding the perfect balance

Though a black tea base seemed to be the way to go, we eventually tried a green tea out of sheer curiosity. It was somewhat interesting, but not as good as black tea. Our next step was to find a black tea best paired with the rich flavours and aromas of maple. After quite a bit of research, we landed on our Indian black tea, from Coonoor. Its classical structured taste is malty yet sweet and perfectly complements the maple without overpowering it.

So we are proud to announce that the new maple Tea Studio blend is comprised of 50% Nilgiri Coonoor black tea, produced out of our own experimental factory in India and 50% from maple sugar crystals from the maple forest of St-Ferdinand in Quebec.

These blend perfectly with the tea, giving it a natural and delicious maple flavour. An agreement in simplicity, which brings out the dried fruit notes of tea and offers the right dose of sugar. The result: the true impression of having added a little maple syrup to the tea!

An original and unique tea

Blended at our Montreal warehouse we are proud to present a rich maple tea of such quality! We’re also happy to announce that it will be available year round so you will be to enjoy it plain or with a cloud of maple milk. If that piques your interest, simply brew your tea as you normally would and add a bit of hot foamed milk and maple syrup. Add a few maple sugar crystals on top if you’re feeling fancy! A rare delight!

Tea Masters Cup: A Competition Between Tea Enthusiasts

13 March 2019

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Back in October 2017, Kevin had the chance to attend the World Finals of an event called the Tea Masters Cup whilst in China for a conference. This very exciting competition between young tea enthusiasts of all styles is very similar to the barista competitions of the coffee world and is now becoming an international phenomenon.

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If we divide modern tea culture into three principal categories: production, trade and consumers, the Tea Masters Cup is a project entirely focused on the cultivation of the consumer market. It is seen as a think tank for the evolution of tea culture, new preparation methods and service concepts.

This March, Kevin travelled to Moscow, to act as a guest judge in the Russian competition, to learn more about the organization and to further the process of bringing the competition to Canada for the first time in September. A project he is working on with the Canadian Tea and Herbal Association. Not to be missed!

More about the competition:

  • The Tea Masters Cup started in Russia and is now held in 23 countries, from France to Australia, Vietnam, China, Korea, Latvia … More and more countries join the competition each year;
  • Participants can register in one or more of the four categories: Preparation, Pairing, Tasting and Mixology;
  • The movement is entirely run by volunteers
  • The competition is fuelled by enthusiasm for tea, beyond the rivalries between companies;
  • Participants are often young adults, passionate about tea and keen to take an active part in the tea evolution of tea culture.
  • The prize for the winners of each country’s national competition is to be sent to the world championships to compete against winners from all the other countries.

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Entrepreneurship: Our Founder’s Journey

5 February 2019

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According to Hugo, the key to entrepreneurial success is combination of careful planning, focused objectives and a decent dose of…luck!

Here is an interview with the founder of Camellia Sinensis tea house on the original launch of the company.

Tell us how it all started? Was founding a company your dream?

H : From planning my paper route when I was 10 to begging manager of the corner store to give me more responsibilities when I was 16, I always felt I was born to be an entrepreneur. I had been dreaming of launching a café-bar with a difference, so I travelled to Europe at 23 to do my market research. Whilst in Prague, I picked up the taste for tea as there were many places serving it with a blend of Asian tradition and an extra touch of “cool” . As I worked on my business plan I realized that we had nothing remotely like this in Montreal. That’s when I realized: it was going to be a tea house and not a coffee shop!

You must have have ran into quite a few challenges when you started out?

H : Yes. I actually underestimated the budget to launch this endeavour, so I had to worked 112h a week for the first year to compensate. It wasn’t easy for my friends, family and more importantly the bank to visualize the concept I had in mind.

Do you have any tips for the young entrepreneurs out there?

H : Firstly, is that you can’t do it alone. Find people around you that you trust and that can help you with certain tasks. Trust them and delegate. There are plenty of people and business services that will help if you ask.

Secondly, I would suggest to focus on one thing as launching a new business is very time consuming. Make sure that the other aspects of your life allow you to dedicate so much energy to this adventure.

Last November marked the 20th anniversary of Camellia Sinensis. How would you explain the continued success of this company?

H : Personal experience has lead me to believe that it is a mixture of three things:

1. A realistic plan. It’s important to plan but we also need to be flexible in order to see other opportunities that can help us improve our idea. I have never found it realistic to plan 3 or 5 years ahead. I plan the year and adapt with the flow to guide my next plan. Depending on your vision, you may want to observe your company’s evolution. Treat it as if it were a person with its own goals and aspirations.

2. Keep focused. Choose and define a mission, objectives and a target market. Remember, you won’t be able to please everyone and aim concentrate on what you do best.

3. Be on the lookout for Lady Luck ! After all, the whole idea of Camellia Sinensis came to me after working up the nerve to ask a girl out in Prague. She fortunately said yes and brought me to a hidden Tea house and that’s when everything became clear. Who knows what would’ve happened had I not met her. Being open and spontaneous to the benefits of chance can lead to wonderful things.

Camellia Sinensis isn’t only Hugo, you also have 3 partners. What is your secret ?

H : Quite simply: we get along really well. Having the same overall vision and our belief in the balance between personal and professional life is what has kept us together so long. Partnering up was very organic and seamless but having the same values is the glue that keeps it together. Starting out we all worked together in the store and teahouse as things developed we were advised to take on specific roles and to structure the company as it grew. It worked out for the best because we each had our own strengths and interests. Francois took marketing, Jasmin took operations and eventually Kevin joined in 2004, adding a wealth of experience after years in the tea market.

Any wishes for the next 20 years of Camellia Sinensis?

H: Definitely not a massive worldwide expansion. I’d rather focus on helping like-minded entrepreneurs to change the way we do business and spread the wealth. Running a healthy business can mean many things and measured in different ways. For us it’s measured in the quality of how we balance our personal lives.

Actually, I’ll take this opportunity to sincerely thank all our clients. Without their loyalty and support, Camellia Sinensis would not be what it is today. Thank you everybody!

Camellia Sinensis Turns 20: Looking Back

11 November 2018

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November 16, 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of Camellia Sinensis. Some of you may have been following our “retrospective” photo album on Facebook that follows the great evolution from our humble beginnings – both in decor and haircuts!

An Asian approach to tea…in Montreal!

Hugo Américi opened the first Camellia Sinensis tea room in 1998 on Emery street in Montreal. Having thought to open a coffee-bar, he dropped the idea in favour of a teahouse. The concept would be focused on an Asian approach to tea. He had been impressed by a similar concept the previous year in Prague at the Dobra Cajovna teahouses and was fascinated by the ambiance. At first, Camellia Sinensis offered customers a variety of fifty teas along with a few cakes, all served in a relaxed atmosphere.

Curious to know more about our history? Read more.

A passionate and complimentary team

That same year, two students from the local university arrived on the scene, Jasmin Desharnais and François Marchand both started waiting tables and quickly ended up becoming co-owners of the company. As Camellia flourished and grew, a fourth player entered the fold, Kevin Gascoyne, who had his own tea company, Kyela Teas, focussed on the teas of Darjeeling in India. The four began to take on specific roles within the company. At home Jasmin took charge of HR and Operations he also focussed on the teas of Western and Eastern China. Francois becomes responsible for marketing, content and IT while focusing as a taster on Central China. Kevin handles international conferences, deals with HR in Montreal and uses his experience of India to oversee the Tea Studio. He buys all the Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and African teas. Finally, Hugo oversees the global vision of the company, handles the administration, distribution and acts as taster buyer in both Japan and Taiwan. They find it advantageous to have their own networks abroad for buying while running the company at home.

The enthusiastic energy of the group fuelled them to open stores and tea houses in Montreal and Quebec city, publish various books, open a Tea School, open the first Chai bar in the province as well as launch an experimental factory in India (Tea Studio).

Did you know that:

  • Camellia Sinensis was almost called “The smoking teapot”;
  • For the first 5 years, most clients came to the store for the hookahs (water pipes used to smoke Egyptian flavoured tobacco) now long gone.
  • At first, Camellia Sinensis was a Teahouse. It was following a month long vacation that Hugo came back with the idea of opening a store
  • Camellia Sinensis has two Tea Schools, both in Montreal and Quebec
  • The company now employs over 50 loyal employees in the stores, salons, warehouse and in the offices
  • Camellia Sinensis offers an ever changing selection of well over 200 teas.
  • There are close to 500 restaurants worldwide that offers our teas. Some with Michelin stars!
  • Our tea workshops have been attended by over 10 000 tea lovers
  • Over the last 20 years, our four tasters have tasted tens of thousands of tea samples
  • The Montreal teahouse has served over 700 000 clients since its opening
  • We receive close to 32 tons of directly imported teas each year

Are you a new tea enthousiast? Discover our tea taster kits, a great way to discovering your preferences.

AN INNOVATIVE TEA FACTORY: TAKE A TRIP WITH US TO THE TEA STUDIO! – PART 2

22 October 2018

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From October 1st to 20th, our four tea tasters were visiting the Tea Studio, our innovative tea factory in the Nilgiri (India). As they’ve just returned from what was a particularly inspiring trip, Hugo, François, Jasmin were visiting the project for the first time. Here’s what they had to say:

Nature at its best

First and foremost, the architecture of the factory is simply splendid! Whichever way you look at it, the studio is beautiful. Located among a patchwork of small-holder tea gardens, every window frames a beautiful landscape image.

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Contagious energy

Warmly welcomed with a ton of positive energy from everyone in the factory. We were warmed by the fact that everyone on staff seems to love what they do and also, and have excellent relationships with each other. François also spent time with Muskan, head of the team, to talk about their work and what it means to be an all-female team leading the project. Stay tuned for more on our blog!

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A shared vision of respect

We also spent a day meeting with our Indian partners to discuss the progress, as well as future of the project. It was a great pleasure for us to realize how much we had in common and that our values and vision were well aligned. Although our local partners come from different industries (pharmaceutical, construction, tea and spices), they all had tremendous respect for one another. It made easy to agree on many ideas, including the establishment of a community-based project where 1% of each sale would go towards improving the infrastructure of the village as well as the purchase of fields around the Studio for tea growing. A great pleasure to meet such a strong and respectful team, very similar to our Camellia Sinensis partnership!

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Knowledge shared

It was after a long journey and a short night’s sleep that Mr. He and Mr. Tang, two of our favourite Chinese producers, arrived at the Tea Studio, they got straight to work. They were immediately interested in the leaves, the machines and our process, but they also took the time to taste the teas and visit the garden. Mr. Hewas bombarded with questions from Muskan, our head tea-maker who was really excited to receive so much priceless advice on how to improve the product. She also nicknamed Mr. He the “Tasmanian Devil”. As he spun around like a tornado, by the time our translator Yan had translated his instructions to Muskan, Mr. He had already moved on to something else! François also spoke with the two Chinese producers to get their opinion on the progress, their opinion on the potential of the factory as well as their first experience in India.
Stay tuned for more on our blog!

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A dream come true

For our tasters this is a dream come true. The evolution of the project is developing well and is in tune with the vision they had originally. A true team effort, Jasmin will continue to work on improving the production and the quality of the tea. Hugo will build the work structures, Kevin will continue to share his tea knowledge and work as the bridge between the different cultures, while François will keep creating content and documenting our progress.

 

AN INNOVATIVE TEA FACTORY: TAKE A TRIP WITH US TO THE TEA STUDIO!

4 October 2018

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Innovation in the tea industry

The Tea Studio is a prime example of a new wave of artisanal approach to manufacturing tea of high quality. It relies on many innovative elements, in its design, technology and its environmental and social responsibility.

Furthermore, this project has brought together tea experts from 3 continents. The team has an avant-garde approach to tea making through experimentation in order to meet the growing market of boutique-style tea with a wide variety of “custom” teas.

The Tea Studio is located in India, more specifically in the region of Nilgiri, which offers an excellent source of clonal and classic tea, grown and cultivated with Camellia Sinensis seeds var.sinensis and Camellia Sinensis var.assamica.

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Have you been following the Tea Studio evolution?

Back in March 2018, we had officially announced the launch of this new project, labelled as an experimental tea factory located in the Nilgiris. Today, the factory has been operating for a full year and our four expert tasters have already are over there for some hands-on research and development. Have you had a chance to taste our first batches?

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A busy travel itinerary!

From October 1st to 20th, Hugo, François, Jasmin and Kevin will be at the Tea Studio with their Indian partners, fine tuning the way that the factory operates as well joining them for meetings and providing support to the production team. It will also give the collective a chance to plan and organize the next phases of this project. So plenty of work ahead… but constantly surrounded by that incredible view of the tea gardens!

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China arrives…in India

Two of our favorite Chinese tea producers (Mr. He and Mr. Tang) will be joining the team on this journey to share their expertise and fine tune their production methods. Mr. He, is the producer of several classic Chinese green teas (Huiming, Jingning Yin Zhen, Bai Ye Long Jing, Long Jing Zhejiang, Long Jing Jingning Bai). At home he is a well known agronomist, processing specialist, scientist, director of a tea research center and taster, will be helping to improve the tea factory’s overall quality. This will be his first trip outside of China! We are so lucky to have this opportunity to benefit from his experience on this type of project.

Though the quality of our first batches greatly exceeded our expectations, this is very much a learning process so this is a unique opportunity for us to improve.

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From tea tasters to tea producers?

After 20 years in the tea industry, Jasmin recently admitted he’s looking forward “to getting his hands dirty”! This will be an opportunity to do so, as our four tasters will not only be tasting teas at the Tea Studio they will be actively help producing it. Look out for the new batches produced by either Hugo, François, Jasmin or Kevin.

Participate in the local community’s development

Our team’s quality of life is an essential part of our mandate. The Tea Studio is gradually raising funds to provide access to education for girls from the rural villages in the valley.

The Tea Studio is Rolling!

8 September 2018

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TEA STUDIO THEIERE

Back in March 2018, we officially announced the launch of a project we had been working on for a few years: the Tea Studio, an experimental tea factory located in the Nilgiris. The machines have now been operational for a full year and our first 4 teas launched in March.

Surprising results

Within the first 12 months of Tea Studio’s existence, our team worked hard to develop the quality of the teas and make adjustments according to the different seasons. We were pleasantly surprised by our the first lots, especially for the Nilgiri Mao Feng 01. We did not expect such good results at first with our green tea using the assamica variety leaf. Encouraging for the creation of new interesting possibilities as we move forward!

The teas have been praised by our loyal clients who have been following the story of the Tea Studio. We are numbering each lot as they arrive so that customers can follow our progress and the seasonality of the teas. The 2nd lot will be available in just a few weeks.

TEA STUDIO VISTA

Our Tasters at the Studio

Our four tasters will head to the Tea Studio in India for two weeks in October to work on methodology and logistics. They are also bringing one of our favourite tea producers from China, Mr. He, to help fine tune our manufacturing process.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in this very exciting project!

Teamwork Rewarded!

26 June 2018

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The 2018 edition of the annual World Tea Awards, was hosted by World Tea Expo on June 12th. We were so proud to have been nominated in 4 categories, and delighted to be announced the winners of two!

Kevin and Jasmin were in Las Vegas to attend the ceremony, and to meet fellow tea aficionados and friends from all over the World. Our passion for sharing leaf and knowledge has made us many friends in every part the tea industry so when we were announced winners, the crowd’s rowdy, enthusiastic reaction was quite moving.

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Best Tea Shop

Having been crowned winners of the Best Tea Blog, Best Tea Book and Best Tea Website over the past few years, we had the immense honour of being voted winner of “Best Tea Shop” by the international tea community. A great achievement and perfect timing for our 20th anniversary (on November 16 this year).
We owe this award to our our fabulous in-store team, past and present, devoting themselves day in and day out to sharing our values and their passion for tea with our loyal community. It is always great to win awards and be recognized by our industry, but this award is a little sweeter as the World’s tea community is directly recognizing the heart and soul of what we do.

The impact of our little company throughout the rest of the world always surprises us when we are at these events. Tea lovers from all over the planet know us and so many make the pilgrimage to Montreal and Quebec to visit our teahouses and Tea School. There are very few tea houses with such a large selection backed up by such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team…there is certainly nothing quite like this in Toronto, Boston, or even New York.

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So congratulations and thank you to our fantastic team – you certainly deserve the all the praise and credit. And of course thanks to our loyal clients and tea community that make what we do possible.

Best Website

For the third year in a row, our online store has been recognized again as Best Tea Industry Website. Secretly, behind the scenes, our website is getting a new look, with new sections and an improved user experience. So stay tuned!

Bristol Chai is 1 year old!

13 May 2018

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On May 14, 2017, Gabriel Svaldi, a loyal Camellia Sinensis team member since 2009, opened the first chai bar in Quebec, right in the heart of Montreal. It’s already been 1 full year since Bristol Chai‘s opening, a charming place where Montreal’s dynamism meets India’s warmth! We’re thrilled to pursue the adventure as we kick off the second year!

Retrospective of the last 12 months:

  • 16,000 chais and teas served
  • 11 chai workshops held at the bar
  • 10 committed employees, 3 of whom have been with us from the beginning
  • 6 corporate events hosted on site
  • 10 tastings at conferences and other events
  • 5 contests held on social networks

Did you know that…

  • Our most loyal customer has completed 10 loyalty cards, which represents an average of 1 chai every two days for 1 year …!
  • Our pastries are so popular that guests from the nearby café come and eat their treats here
  • Gabriel drinks on average 1L of chai per day, which represents 240L of chai since the opening … and several overdoses of caffeine!
  • Our 5 chai blends are sold in more than 75 points of sale in Quebec!

Looking forward to meet you there!

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