I’m a tea nerd. It’s not really a secret, just flip through this blog and you’ll see a few posts on afternoon tea experiences. I haven’t even written about how I travel with my favourite teas, and pick-up new ones when I’m in various countries. I actually have specific tea stops in certain cities, like the green tea infused with anise from a little family tea shop located in a hutong in Beijing. But I digress…
I am always on the look-out for unique experiences, and when I heard of the Asian influence at Shangri-La Vancouver’s afternoon tea, I couldn’t resist checking it out. There are not many places outside China where one can experience a Face Changing Opera performance, or a Kung Fu Tea Master, and Shangri-La Vancouver has both. Having experienced Chinese Opera performances in Chengdu, I was excited to see the Face Changing performance. I knew it would be slightly different, after all I am in Canada, sitting in a hotel lounge on a sunny Saturday afternoon; in Chengdu it was evening, I was in a teahouse, and there were scores of people seated in front of me. This was a more intimate performance.
The face changing performance was short, roughly 15 minutes, but I enjoyed every moment of it, although one small boy was a wee bit freaked out by the constant changing of faces. I guess it would be odd, a man’s face changing every minute or so, and usually from one bright colour to another. Poor kid. While I was intrigued by the Face Changing Opera, I was even more curious about Xi Shi Lounge’s Kung Fu Tea Master, another unique experience in Vancouver. Seated at a small round table, my friend Alicia and I were surrounded by tables filled with mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and couples, each table adorned with pots of tea and tiers of china filled with scones, sandwiches, and delightful little desserts.
For some reason whenever I have afternoon tea, I feel as though I need to be dainty, and I am everything but dainty. I don’t do the whole pinky finger thing, but I do try to look as proper as I can. Thankfully nobody has figured out that I usually drink tea from large coffee mugs. Until now of course…
As we waited for the Kung Fu Tea performance, Alicia and I spoke about travel, life in Vancouver, and tea. The tea menu at Shangri-La Vancouver is quite a bit smaller than that of Shangri-La Toronto, but I fell in love with the Lychee Rose Almond tea, which they also use in a yummy teatini (think martini with tea). When the Kung Fu Tea performance begins we sit back, grab our phones, and begin taking photos, and shooting a little video. What can I say, it’s in our nature!
Using a copper long pot, Shangri-La Vancouver’s Kung Fu Tea Master performed a long pot tea ceremony, elegantly mixing kung fu moves and tea pouring. It’s hard to describe, the ceremony was maybe 10 minutes in length, but I loved every moment, it was like being in a teahouse in China. I love the ceremony of it all.
Looking for something interesting and unique to do in Vancouver, make a reservation for afternoon tea at Shangri-La Vancouver. The Face Changing Opera takes place at 1:00 p.m., and the Kung Fu Tea performance starts around 3:00 p.m. I highly recommend the Lychee Rose Almond tea, and of course pile lots of fresh Devonshire cream on a scone and eat it slowly. So. Damn. Good.