A Calgary Date Guide for the Wannabe Tea Drinker

“So, you want to grab a coffee sometime?”

Ah, the classic line. Most humans who are at least slightly interested will respond with some version of yes, but what happens when they play a little harder to get? 

We understand that hearing “I prefer tea” as an answer might get you a little hot under the collar. So we’ve put together a list of places you can take your date and keep your cool all at the same time. 

Oolong Tea House
Since the closing of Steeps broke our heart a couple of years ago, this really has been the saving grace for tea-lovers to recreate the atmosphere that was lost. That said, if your date really does avoid coffee shops, they’ve more than likely been here before. 

Don’t worry, though, because the familiar isn’t always the worst thing. Everyone likes an expert – so let them guide you through the long list of fragrant dried leaves and petals and act very, very interested before proceeding to one of their darkened corners to lay down your own expertise. 

They’re open late on Friday and Saturday nights, too, which is a plus. 

The Bean Stop
This place has been a cornerstone of the Eau Claire Market for years (literally, it’s on a corner on the main level). 

They do great coffee if you really can’t do tea, but there’s also an impressive wall of glass canisters for your new friend to stick their nose into, which is half the fun of drinking tea.

Take your warm treat to go, then proceed to wander across to Prince’s Island Park, which is definitely up there as one of the city’s most romantic public spaces. 

And if bad weather gets in the way, checking out the quirky stores and stalls within Eau Claire is the perfect plan B. 

Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Palliser
This one’s for the show-stoppers. We suggest holding onto this card until you’re pretty sure you really like your date, ‘cause it’s not cheap and it’s not just tea.

Reservations are required 24 hours in advance, and if you work a regular Monday to Friday, your only real window is between 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday. There’s also a “smart casual” dress code, so keep that in mind. However, all of this will be worth it when you see the look on your date’s face when you walk through the front doors of Calgary’s most classically gorgeous lobby and into the iconic dining room. 

Word to the wise: if they’re actually a tea snob, be aware that teas at the Fairmont are not loose-leaf and do come in bags. You’ll still get to choose from a plethora of delicious flavours, but just make sure she’s not uptight about not seeing it swirl around while it steeps. And if you’re sitting there asking yourself, “no one is actually that into tea, are they?” the answer is yes, yes they are. 

The Tea Factory
This is probably your easiest win if you’re going out on a whim. 

Situated in Mission, this new-ish place has plenty of seating, pleasant lighting, and an extensive selection of loose-leaf teas, including the blossoming kind that make a really pretty pot to stare at if things get awkward. It’s usually just the right balance of busy and quiet, which is perfect for the first time you actually get to hear each other’s voices. 

Their sweet offerings aren’t bad, but if things go well and you want to keep going, you’re within steps of some pretty great restaurants and bars as well. 

Alternatively, the location will also come in handy when you get that “unexpected text” from a friend who just happens to “need to talk” to you (alone) at Local 510…


Cover photo from: istock.com/milosljubicic

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