Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/5/2018 (661 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Tea has always been a part of Mark Turner’s life as he grew up in Scotland, but here in Canada, it’s his full-time job.
Turner, who lives in Scotia Heights, and Dan Card, co-own Amsterdam Tea Room (211 Bannatyne Ave.) and are sharing their knowledge and love of tea with Winnipeggers. They started as a small tea retail shop in the summer of 2016 and have recently evolved into a fully licensed tea room which serves tea-infused cocktails, wine, beer and a small menu of Dutch-inspired food.
"We wanted that European licensed tea room," Turner said. "So we’re a tea room and bar right now. We very much wanted that European street café culture kind of atmosphere where everyone can come together to have a tea, coffee, a beer or a tea cocktail."
While they were designing the bar and brainstorming how they would apply the concept of a European tea room to Winnipeg, Turner and Card started as a shop to secure the location which Turner said was perfect for their project.
Amsterdam Tea Room was built by the owners themselves, staff, and friends who helped this dream come true. They wanted it to be very personable and guaranteed to have lots of characters.
The bar features 10,000 to 12,000 pennies which were shipped from Scotland. Interestingly enough, when Turner was cleaning them, he found a Canadian penny. He had an idea of turning it into a game. The customer who finds the Canadian penny among the thousands of Scottish coins wins a badge.
They repurposed and kept most of the original signs. They also sourced local talents to build furniture and create art. Their friend Matthew DeRyckere made the tables and bar stools, and artist Michael Johnston painted a mural on one of the walls.
"Our primary focus is really on providing a social atmosphere in that European tea room," Turner added.
Tea is sourced from India, China, Nepal, Taiwan, Kenya, and also from across Canada and Manitoba. Turner and Card have attended the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas to learn more about the product they are selling. They make sure all the tea in the store comes from distributors who buy it straight from the producer to ensure its freshness.
"Any time my customers had a question, we would sit down and learn it together. For the first year, that was a huge learning curve. I’m still learning about (tea) every day," Turner commented.
Amsterdam Tea Room blends its tea in-house as well. After Eight is one of its signatures, recreating the flavour of the After Eight chocolate. Other unique teas that come from around the world include Nepali Golden Black 1+1, which is one of their purest and rare black teas, and Insomnia and Sedative, a blend of valerian, passion flower, licorice root, skullcap, hawthorn berry, wild cherry bark, lemon balm that they only sell as a retail item because "It does what it says," Turner explained.
While they sip on their cup of tea, customers are entertained by live music on Friday evenings featuring lots of local talent. Turner has already gotten to know his customers by name, and is looking forward to the summer when they’ll have a 40-seat patio outside.
"The biggest compliment you can have is when people come back," he said.
To learn more about Amsterdam Tea Room, go to amsterdamtearoom.com
Community journalist — The Times
Ligia Braidotti is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org