An inviting atmosphere, tasty lunch and a myriad of tea at Shaktea

The name Shaktea is inspired by the Hindu Goddess, who represents divine feminine energy and who brings harmony and restoration. Knowing this, it makes sense that Maria Ma and Tanya Maldonado of Shaktea on Main, avoid the common and crazy laptop hub, and strive for a balanced, calming environment instead.

Owners, Maria and Tanya

Their choice of loose leaf tea and tisane has been influenced by their travels and time spent with mentors and tea experts from around the world, including prestigious regions of China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Africa, and Nepal. It was during these travels that they were educated in a way that no book could ever teach you, learning from those growing the tea themselves. There appreciation for the art of tea grows deeper with each memorable interaction they have with the people involved in the labour-intensive process.

On their 7th Anniversary in late November a small group of us were led on a tea tasting in which we were to guess the origin, the texture (i.e. smooth), the type of tea and the taste.

The many wine and beer tastings that I’ve been to in the past did not prepare me for this particular tasting. As a self-proclaimed espresso fiend I know very a little about what to look for when sipping tea, I simply notice the aroma, the mouthful, the after-taste and the temperature. Maria and Tanya were helpful in this process and let me quit like a child when I decided that I couldn’t get them right.

Tea Tasting (from front to back): Japanese Sencha, Taiwanese Milky Oolong, Sikkim – Temi Estate TGFOP1 Second Flush, French Earl Grey (with Bergamot, Mango + Hibiscus)

Tea Leaves (from top left): French Earl Grey, Japanese Sencha, Taiwanese Milky Oolong, Sikkim – Temi Estate TGFOP1 Second Flush

As well as sampling tea we were also given the opportunity to sample portions of their lunch menu items to get a feel for their culinary skills made in the small kitchen that they have. As they brought out the sandwiches the first thing I noticed was how tasty the bread looked. Fortunately it tasted as fresh and delicious as it appeared. Many of their menu items have a touch of tea influence in them, such as their Lapsang Souchong dressing and their French Earl Grey fruit preserves.

Fresh Cucumber Sandwich

Open-faced served with a layer of Fourme d’Ambert mousse, and topped with toasted crushed pecans (sample size shown)

Vegetarians, prepare yourself. This is a delicious combination of flavours being thrown at you, with the smooth, full flavoured Fourme d’Ambert mousse, the crisp, refreshing cucumber and the crunchy pecans as a textural topper.

Brie Melt

Creamy brie melted on a fresh slice of organic French baguette, with French Earl Grey fruit preserves (sample size shown)

This is normally served as a sandwich but was just as tasty as an appetizer with the savoury, creamy brie balanced out by the sweet fruit preserves.

Firenze Baguette

Goat cheese with sundried tomato, fresh spinach, artichoke and caramelized onion on organic baguette (sample size shown)

I liked the idea of this sandwich more than the taste, finding the ingredients listed promising but the serving size of them disappointing. The bun to filling ratio was a tad off and would be better with either a smaller bun, more goods in the middle or served open-face.

Chicken Pesto

Seasoned shredded chicken breast with fresh house-made pesto, on organic Ciabatta bread (sample size shown)

At first I thought this was a tuna sandwich, based upon it’s looks but a quick bite in to it confirmed that it was clearly chicken wrapped in house-made pesto. Not the healthiest sandwich as there are no vegetables but still a nice little snack with lots of flavour.

Croque Monsieur

Black forest ham and melted emmenthal, with a touch of German mustard and organic Lapsang Souchong dressing (full size shown) served with spring salad with house dressing

Simple looking but packing some punch, this “Crunch Mister” was a delightful one. I loved the addition of the German Mustard that added slight tanginess and the Lapsang Souchong that was subtle, but enough to make it unique. The feminist in me thinks they should add a Croque Madame on the menu too…just to be fair, and because they’re delicious.

Following the lunch samples, it was time for dessert.

Dessert Trio

Miniature servings of French Earl Grey infused drinking chocolate, lemon white chocolate pomponette, and a Cream Earl Grey infused shortbread cookie.
Tea and dessert, what a beautiful duo. Since they work together so well it only makes sense that one would blend them, right? While it’s certainly not the first time I’ve had a tea infused drinking chocolate this doesn’t detract from the fact that this one was delicious. The creamy melted chocolate with a nuance of French Earl Grey had me reaching for another one (or three) of the miniature cups we were sampling. Don’t judge me, they were small! The shortbread wasn’t exciting on its own but was perfect for dipping in the dark chocolate, albeit being a tad big for these small tasting cups. Imagine it though in regular size – a crunchy bisquit fully coated in creamy chocolate.
My favorite dessert of the three was the lemon pomponette. The spotted “shell” made me associate the dessert with a quail’s egg; not because of the taste I assure you. They were slightly chilled and firm on the outside, but light and custardy on the inside, making a delightfully tart dessert that was easy to pop in to one’s mouth. So I did.
I look forward to checking out Shaktea again soon, most likely for their Afternoon Tea as I’m dying to see how their scones with cream and preserves stack up to those I had at Rowena’s.
For more information about Shaktea visit their website. For more photos check out my Shaktea Gallery on Flickr.
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