The Mad Hatters of Montreal
Updated: Feb 2, 2019
'Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all around the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. 'I don't see any wine,' she remarked.
'There isn't any,' said the March Hare.
'Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.
'It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,' said the March Hare.
There is a secret after-hours tea club in Montreal. The participants collect expensive and difficult to find tea in small amounts. The clandestine clique share their discoveries during late night gatherings at an undisclosed location. They want to experiment and compete over the strength, body, and briskness of their precious leaves.
The tea is made as strong as possible with as little water as possible. It’s a bit like the preparation for an espresso. To discover and experience the most impressive bounty the questions they keep asking themselves are, “What is the echo? How is this making my body feel?” The participants describe these liquid feasts as not only a caffeinated high but also a physical rush bordering on mystical.
“Your sense of time keeps changing and you get very happy because you have quite a bit of caffeine percolating in you by that point. You do get lost in this little space, which I think is why tea has always been associated so closely with meditation and Buddhism in the East.”
The closest I’ve come to this experience is a tea tasting event I attended at Wild Sage teas in Port Townsend. The owner took a group of us from cups of delicate white teas to cups of strong black teas. I was high as a kite when I left. At that time, most of the loose leaves came from Harney & Sons. I still drink their Yin Hao Jasmine and Scottish Morning. Both teas have an impressive capacity for elevating my mood.
If I’m ever in Montreal, I will stop into Camellia Sinensis Tea House (According to my source, this is the front organization for the tea club.) and try to convince the proprietor that I am the perfect candidate to join this secret society. I will assure them that I would be a willing participant in their covert tea bag operation. Concealment? Communication protocols? Secret location? Honey trap? I’m your Emma Orange Peel. The spy who loves tea is keepin' all your secrets safe tonight. As my source suggests, what happens at Tea Club, stays at Tea Club.
Kasper, Lynne Rossetto (2017 February 23) The Splendid Table