I frequently see blogs about coffee spots across the city, but not often do I encounter ones that cater specifically to TEA. If you are a non-coffee drinker like myself (never had a cup in my life), then tea may be your best alternative for a hot drink, especially on a cold winter day.
And just like my last blog post (top fitness studios in Toronto), I spent many months exploring cafes across the city as I compiled a list of my top spots. The places that I listed provided more than just a tea bag in hot water; I was looking for unique blends, tasty lattes, great ambiance and Pinterest-worthy decor.
- Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar
Located at 613 Queen Street West (Queen and Bathurst), Early Bird is one of my favourite cafes in the city. The patio upstairs is the perfect hideaway and the food is Instagram worthy AND heathy- double win.
The tea menu is your typical selection that can be made with water or milk (almond, regular, soy). Their chai lattes was my go to but as of this summer, I became obsessed with their charcoal latte (charcoal and milk; no coffee. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog about all the benefits of charcoal).
Charcoal Latte with Smoothie Bowl
In the winter or rainy day, the atmosphere is perfect for meeting a friend for a tea or doing some solo work with the many other entrepreneurs in there. You may get lucky and meet a new friend. I had an unexpected good chat with actress Troian Bellisario, who played Spencer Hastings on the popular show “Pretty LittleLiars” and wife to Patrick Adams (Mike Ross from the show “Suits”). In fact, I left her reading through my website so who knows, maybe she is reading this one too?
Chai Latte with Almond Milk
2. Forget Me Not Cafe
This is one of Toronto’s hidden gems for a coffee shop. It’s part retail store (dishes, jewellery and other hand made items) and part coffee shop. I walked past it many times for years before I ventured inside 506 Adelaide Street West.
Forget Me Not makes one of my favourite tea lattes year round. In the summer I order an iced almond tea latte made with almond tea from the brand “Tealicious” (it gives it the pink colour pictured above) and almond milk. In the winter I order the same as a hot drink. And it tastes as yummy as it looks pretty.
3. Calii Love
Calii Love is known for their Poke and smoothie bowls. During the opening week at the King Location, the owner made a tea latte for me that was unique and became a favourite of mine- coconut latte.
They have a list of teas from the brand “Serenitea”, one of which is called “coconut dream”. He made this for me with coconut milk and it was one of the tastiest tea lattes I have ever had. It’s not on the menu so you will have to ask for it explicitly, but the staff are always agreeable to making this tropical dream.
4. Sud Forno
Sud Forno has a few spots across the city, but one of my favourite locations is on Queen street. They carry the “Sloane Fine Tea Merchant ” brand with flavours like Rouge Provence (rooibos French florals), Ginger Twist, Jasmine Snow Dragon, to name a few.
I usually grab the tea to go as I roam Queen street, sit in Trinity Bellwoods or hang out in the back patio of Kit and Ace (pictured below).
This place blew up instragram this summer for its decor and cute patio. And I admit that I jumped on that bandwagon. While many frequent here for a meal, I think it would make the perfect tea date.
They carry the Pluck brand tea, which you can request with milk for a latte or with water. I ordered an Earl Grey tea latte, pictured below.
6. Simit and Chai
I go to this authentic Turkish cafe on 787 King Street W for a Simit (Turkish circular bread that I get with olive paste and prosciutto) and a Chai. On occasion, however, I get the Turkish black tea , which has a unique yet rich taste that I enjoy.
I first stumbled on this cute cafe in NYC and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they have a location in Toronto at the First Canadian Place on King Street. The decor of Maman is top notch including their bathroom!
Maman carries the Sloane brand tea. But they are also known for their Blueberry Lavender Loaves. I am not a fan of pastries and cakes, especially if they haven’t been made with minimal processed ingredients. However, this loaf is one of the few pasties I enjoy and I usually compliment it with the “Rooibos French Florals” tea latte.
8.Jacked Up Coffee
You can’t venture into Yorkville without noticing this bright blue truck parked on Yorkville Avenue. Jack, the owner, is often manning the truck during the weekdays and brings with him some serious barista skills from many countries (Australia, England).
While Jacked Up Coffee is known for their coffee, they also sell tea (by the Genuine Tea Company). The atmosphere there is perfect for grabbing a cup of peppermint or English breakfast tea while people watching.
9.The Poet Cafe
This Persian inspired cafe is located on King East and offers customers an atmosphere reminiscent of Old Tehran. I’m a huge fan of unique business, and while many boast of the cuisine here, I love the vibe the Poet cafe brings to the city.
One of my favourite chai lattes in the city comes from here as they make an in house chai syrup consisting of saffron, rose, cardamon, black tea and honey.
10.Rooster House Coffee
With a few locations across the city, Rooster house is becoming one of the more popular coffee shops in the city. I’ve gone to both their King and Jarvis locations a few dozen times and I have never seen it empty (even at opening and closing time).
The Jarvis location remains one of my favourite decorated cafes. I love the old English vibe that makes me feel like I am trapped in time.
They are also one of the few cafes that has more than a chai tea latte on the menu. Two of my favourites tea lattes from here are the Ginger Honey Tea Latte (perfect if you are feeling sick) and the Toasty Almond Latte.
11.Music Garden Cafe
Music Garden Cafe is a quaint little spot on the Harborfront. I used to live in the area and love the decor (especially at Christmas) which made me feel like I was sitting at my grandma’s home. Also, the location is perfect for a grab-n-go tea followed by a stroll along the waterfront.
They cary the brand “Two Leaves and a Bud” tea with a variety of flavours but my go to is usually the organic mountain high chai.
I am obsessed with the minimalist look so I was instantly drawn to Versus. The customer service and the fact that they are an independent company were also bonuses for my attraction towards them.
Versus also carries the Genuine Tea brand, my favourite of which is the vanilla rooibos flavour. I rotate between getting this as a latte with almond milk or with just water.
I was turning around the corner from the Flat Iron Building off of Church street when I randomly stumbled on The Place- a flower shop complimented with a cafe. French music played in the background of this fairly quiet cafe, which immediately drew me in.
Their signature latte is the rose latte- but it is coffee based. Seeing that I wanted to try these rose petals but omit the coffee flavour, the barista created a unique latte for me that I must share with you – a cinnamon tea latte garnished with rose petals. It isn’t on the menu but I encourage you to request it if you go.
14.Her Majesty’s Pleasure
One of the most popular spots in the city for a bachelorette or birthday, Her Majesty’s pleasure is often sought out for their cocktails and spa services. But the bright atmosphere, leaf-printed cushions and metallic decor just screams for you to come in and enjoy a spot of tea. It is called Her Majesty, after all.
As with many of the places that carry the Sloane tea brand, you can enjoy as a latte or with hot water. And maybe as a bonus while you sip away, you can book yourself a quick manicure.
15.Kitten and the Bear
This tiny little tea room in Queen West offers only 2 seating arrangements for a jam and tea service – a 2 seater and a 3 seater table. I am a huge advocate for balance so I had no problem enjoying their freshly made scones with gelatin-free all natural jams to compliment my Sloane tea.
They don’t take reservations so be sure to visit off peak hours or take your chances coming down there. The quaint atmosphere and intimate service though will make it worth your while. You can however grab a tea to go, but I would recommend sitting down for high tea.
Plentea is almost exclusively just teas- probably one of the few cafes heavily void of a coffee selection. Hello Tea heaven!
This spot is another one of my favourite spots namely because they offer a large variety of tea and tea lattes . Some of my recommendations here include coconut cream, black velvet, and for the fall flavours like numeric milk and pumpkin.
Another unique tea only spot is just steps away from Eaton Centre. So this Christmas while you are doing your shopping, be sure to check this cafe out. They also serve iced teas so the perfect spot year round
Their teas range from herbal, green, black, organic milk, white and oolong.
Some of my favourites include: apple pie, scarlet rose, turmeric ginger, chocolate chai and marshmallow smores.
18.Strange Love Coffee
With a couple locations in Toronto, the Spadina one became increasingly popular this summer namely because of its pink instagrammble “Toronto” sign mural painted outside the cafe.
They serve gelato and coffee, but the teas shouldn’t be ignored. Specifically if you are a matcha lover, then you will want to try out their seasonal “gingerbread matcha latte”.
Fika is a Swedish word, meaning “to have coffee”. So it is no surprise that someone was bound to name a coffee shop “Fika”.
Fika is nestled in Kensington Market and is one of my favourite cafes in the city (I am aware I wrote that a lot but when there are hundreds of cafes, have a handful of favourites is inevitable). It takes the cake for decor, atmosphere and teas. I am yet to figure out how or why, but their chai lattes are the best. They use the Genuine Tea brand but the baristas admit to adding both honey and cinnamon to the milk, giving it an even more enjoyable flavour.
In the hustle and bustle of the Financial district, Dineen offers many city goers coffee both on the go and in store. It is rare to find it peaceful in there as the energy of Toronto is evident. And one can’t help but feed off of it.
My go to at Dineen is the Chai latte. I admit that this place is a high contender for atmosphere and decor. Many bloggers and instagrammers are often seen taking photos of their drinks showcased above the patterned tiles (case in point below). Often in the summer I will sit on the road side patio with friends or people watch.
Light Cafe is a Taiwanese inspired cafe that takes pride in their decor (green plant covered wall) and presentation. They stand by an interesting philosophy ” Eat fresh. Live true. Stay hungry”.
While they are known to many for their charcoal waffles and cotton candy coffee, they do make some pretty tasty teas including their Earl Grey Rose latte.
22.Balzac’s Coffee Roasters
Balzac’s is growing coffee company with 13 locations across Canada. They are highly rated for their coffees, and this summer they became known for serving coffee in a cone!
Their teas are not to be overlooked. Specifically they serve an organic chai tea, which unlike many places, is not too sweet (I like to taste the spices in my chai latte, not the sugar).