We continued to Fisgard Market, named for the street, which conveniently arranged their ingredients by country, including Thai, Japanese and more. Refrigerators held wide, skinny and uncut noodles, square wonton and round gyoza wrappers. Fink suggested baking “Superior” tofu with sesame oil so it becomes crispy outside and creamy inside. Angel brand rice vermicelli is apparently a good idea, especially when soaked for 20 minutes, which allows them to go right in the stir fry. Fink rattled off more recs, including LKK’s premium oyster sauce, Kikkoman light soy sauce, Yeo’s 100% sesame oil and Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce.
Silk Road specializes in tea and aromatherapy on the edge of Chinatown. Daniela Kubelic, a tea master trained by Taiwanese and Chinese tea masters, opened Silk Road in March 1992.
Silk Road expanded over the years and now includes a tea bar. All teas are organic, hand-picked and hand-rolled. Tea tastings every Saturday and Sunday. They offer two complimentary teas per day, one on each side of the store, but there’s a good chanced you’ll want more given their variety and attention to detail.
Karah Goshinmon led three-tea tasting, progressing from white to green and black. Two Doves Silver Needles is an antioxidant-rich white tea from China, with leaves picked when really young. Goshinmon was convinced that the “whitish downy” leaves translate to the cup.
Japan apparently only produces green tea, and Japanese green teas tend to be nuttier, as opposed to Chinese green teas, which are grassier. As she said, “Two green teas can come from the same area, but depending on time of picking, when they’re rolled and how much they’re left to oxidized, they’ll be different.” The more oxidation, the more caffeine.
Our particular green tea was infused with sakura cherry and sakura cherry essence. “Cherry blossoms remind us of of how fleeting life is,” said Goshinmon. She suggested steeping for less than 3 minutes to avoid a bitter flavor.
For people who are concerned about caffeine content, Goshinmon had some facts. Black tea can have 25 – 110 mg of caffeine, per cup. Green tea can be 6 – 15. Steep under a minute, the caffeine won’t be released.
Goshinmon suggested pairing Velvet Potion with dessert, or even pouring over vanilla ice cream. It’s best steeped 2 – 5 minutes. “Black teas tend to have as a more coppery color,” she said. “Green teas, especially in China, are called different shades of jade.”
Another somewhat rarely-seen aspect of the tea world that we witnessed was a tea brick. Packing the tea in that fashion ensures that the tea isn’t exposed to air and light. It’s also a historic form of currency. There are also pu erh tea cakes, passed down frim generation to generation. “As they age, flavors will change.” Pu erh is aged in caves in barrels. Bricks can be various types of tea.
This is a small swath of information that Heidi Fink either revealed or introduced us to on the culinary tour. Her two-hour Chinatown tour costs $50 per person, includes food and seems reasonable given what we experienced.
Note: My participation on Heidi Fink’s culinary tour was complimentary, as part of a tour hosted by Tourism Victoria.