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This article was published 23/7/2016 (1273 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Starting Sunday, local tea lovers can sample a little taste of Europe in Old Market Square.
A new tea room, the Amsterdam Tea Room, is officially opening Sunday at 211 Bannatyne Ave. The European-inspired tea room is owned by Mark Turner, 36, and his business partner, Dan Card.
The tea room is selling a variety of loose leaf teas, teaware and books about tea. The two have also taken on a non-profit venture of displaying the work of local artists "who wouldn’t normally get a spot in the gallery," said Turner.
Born in the tiny Scottish village of Rhu just outside Glasgow, Turner moved to Winnipeg nearly two years ago with the intent of living here temporarily. "I’ve got family here, so I was going to live here for a little while; maybe travel around, see what Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal had to offer," he said. "But after three months here I was just like, ‘Nope. I love Winnipeg, this is my home now.’"
Turner came to Canada with the idea of opening a scotch bar. He met Card through a cousin of his and the pair planned on making that dream a reality. Over a year-and-a-half of planning, the scotch bar turned into a tea room.
"Dan was talking about Amsterdam and the street café culture where you could have a tea, coffee, sit and watch the world go by — maybe have a wine if you wanted to," said Turner. "I was totally on board with that and I too, love Amsterdam. For both of us, it epitomizes what Europe has to offer with that European café culture kind of vibe."
The pair moved into their new space on Bannatyne at the end of May and have been busy redecorating the interior and preparing for their grand opening. Customers looking for a nice hot cuppa will have to wait, Turner said.
"One thing that we can’t do at the moment, because of the retail space, is we can’t give tea samples, we can’t serve cups of tea. So people can’t sit in the space and enjoy a cup of tea," he said. "It’s something that we are working towards and we do want to provide that service in the future. Our space is just like a plain, retail, square, thousand-foot space and we don’t have any plumbing, which means we can’t clean dishes, clean crockery, that kind of thing." He said they plan on establishing the tea room as a retail space before tackling the plumbing.
To make up for this, they built what Turner calls a "nosing bar", which allows customers to smell the 52 varieties of tea out of little glass jars.
"It gives you a really good idea of what the tea is about; you can smell the freshness and just the variety that we have as well, which is fun," he said. "It’s good because I think customers really enjoy it when they come in because it provides an extra kind of element to that retail experience, and they can really get an idea of what teas are available before they even buy them."
Tea has become increasingly popular in recent years, evidenced by the expansion and popularity of stores such as Teavana and David’s Tea.
"There’s so much more variety with tea. We were noticing that as well; we wanted to do the tea room before we even started realizing just how popular tea is getting, especially with the young millennials, the 17 to 25 year olds," Turner said. "I think in North America now, certain studies have shown recently that it’s half and half for tea and coffee, and that shift is going towards tea. So you’re looking at maybe five years down the line, people who are going to go into their late 20s, early 30s and the majority are going to be drinking tea. So there’s definitely a shift towards that kind of direction."
The Amsterdam Tea Room will host its grand-opening party Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.