I’m British and quite honestly I’m aware I go on about this way too much.
But seriously, why not, when I can get better service at a restaurant because I drop the words vitamins, tomatoes and bananas?
Anyway, why am I talking about this? Because as someone with an English accent I’m uniquely qualified to write this review.
Today I’m going to review a Tea shop.
Paragon Tea Room is what happens when you mix the biggest tea nerd you’ll ever meet in your whole life with the Pixar character WALL-E then slap an egg battered interior designer into the mix.
And if that description doesn’t make sense, I completely understand. But trust me guv’nor, this place is absolutely bloody amazing.
What’s the coffee tea like in Paragon?
OK calm down, it’s a tea menu, so we’re not going to be talking about coffee at all in this review.
Paragon are part of the Siply network of cafes, which means I saved a bunch of cash using the Siply app to buy my drinks. Click here if you want to download the app. You’ll see that each drink below shows you how much you can save.
Paragon focuses on making all their teas via something called a Teaspresso machine.
It’s like La Marzocco had a love child with WALL-E.
The idea of this machine is to mimic the extremely lengthy process of a Tea Ceremony. They have distilled the hour-long event into a 2-minute brew.
Hojicha is a roasted green tea. You’ll have almost certainly had this at some point in a sushi joint. You know the one that is 90% of the time watery crap and then you find that one place that does it and it’s AMAZING, then you go back two weeks later and it’s awful?
Well, Paragon has quite simply blown EVERY misconception of this tea out of the water for me.
It. Is. Frikkin. Delicious.
There’s an immediate toasty and rich flavour, with a lingering sweet, almost caramel taste on the back end.
This might be my favourite tea of all time.
What made this even more enjoyable was watching how they brewed it.
They put ground tea into the portafilter of the Teaspresso machine then immediately pour hot water through it… right into the drain.
I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw it I yelped like a Chihuahua.
Turns out that there’s a bunch of crap you don’t want in your teacup that is washed out in the first pulse of water.
Then what happens is there are several pulses of water that happen over the course of a couple of minutes as the cup fills up.
I’m not going to pretend like I truly understand it, but it’s magical to watch.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know there was something called a Hawthorne berry! It almost sounds like it’s from a family farm on a rolling meadow in the south downs of England. Perhaps it’s got lots of vitamins in it. Maybe it tastes like tomatoes or bananas…
Well, actually it tastes crisp, slightly fruity and has an amazing light fizz to it. The Hawthorne berries make it look great, but also (I think) added to the fruit flavours.
As with any Kombucha, there’s the usual slightly vinegar taste to it, but this was way more subtle than anything you’ll buy off the shelf.
What’s the food like at Paragon Tea Room
Paragon only serves one type of food right now – Bubble Waffles!
They have the choice of sweet and savoury. I tried both.
The Bacon Cheese
Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside with a hint of smoky-richness from the bacon and even more richness from the cheese. This is the kind of thing you want to eat with a non-milk-based drink. For example, I had this with the hojicha tea, so the clean crispness of the tea complimented the richness of the waffle.
The Mochi Matcha
Similar to the above waffle: Crispy on the outside, fluffy inside but with a delicious chewy mochi ball in every bubble and a slight sweetness.
The Matcha flavour was very subtle and the sweet flavour was subtle. It was a great example of a mellow sweet treat.
In a word – incredible. There’s not a huge roster of staff members, so you’re going to run into the same faces again and again. I love this, as it means they very quickly learn who you are to give you white-glove treatment. They’re all exceptionally patient when you ask questions about their drinks and food, with genuine excitement when they get to dig into the really nerdy descriptions about their teas especially.
If you want a real treat, ask Michelle (who’s also the owner) about her Traditional Chinese Medicine teas. She’s a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
Ok, this ones a strange one. Paragon shares a space with Porto Coffee. Or at least they did, because as of shortly into the COVID craziness, Porto closed their doors permanently.
So I’m going to review their workspace only, but I’ll mention the shared space.
Their bar is a blend of sleek lines, daring colours, natural woods and beautiful urns. That’s right, urns!
Obviously they’re tea urns and don’t have great aunt Gladys in them.
The whole space is clean and inviting, with a flow from the order station to the pickup location.
By the way, when you pick up your drink, it’s mandatory that you fist bump this guy.
Actually, don’t fist bump. Give him a socially distant high five.
At the time of writing, the rest of the shop is not in use at the moment, so you can’t sit down and stay for a drink. When you can, however, there are window seats, stand up pillar seats, and an amazing pair of communal tables in the middle. It’s a really social place to hang out.
Paragon is in such a weird location that’s simultaneously the best place ever and also kind of quiet. However, it overall ends up being a great thing.
First off you’re literally on the doorstep of the Olympic Village SkyTrain. Then you have endless amounts of buses that stop locally, as well as plenty of Mobi bike stations.
You might think this is a nightmare of a location for free parking, but my sneaky tip is that the east side of 4th and Cambie has some 2-hour free parking but the paid parking is $1 per hour.
The bathrooms belong to the building so I’m not reviewing them.
OK, I’m TOTALLY sold on the idea of hanging out in a Tea Shop!
Paragon combines amazing venue, top-shelf service, bloody tasty food and varied selection of absolutely delicious drinks, all made in unique ways.
If you’re in any way a tea snob, you’re going to want to make this a part of your life.