If you’ve shopped at Donald’s Market at all, it’s quite likely you’ve met Nolan, the friendly owner of Steam Tea House , Vancouver’s smallest tea house. Spanning just 70 sqft, the shop is a little slice of tea heaven in a rather unexpected place. Sourcing excellent Single Estate and Fresh Micro-Batch blended tea is of utmost priority at Steam Tea, and we recently spoke with Nolan about his unyielding passion for his industry. Besides getting to work with something he loves everyday, he tells us it’s educating the customers and employees who work for him that satisfies him as a business owner. “It’s great (having) someone who’s enthusiastic about tea and teaching them the skills it takes to converse with a wide range of people,” Nolan says. “Seeing people blossom and grow from the first day being tentative, then going through the training then dealing with customers on a daily basis. They can be nervous at first, but the change I have seen in people is huge.” Nolan is a real tea lover, and as such has a deep appreciation for his product. He often travels to different parts of the world to taste and explore different teas, and tells us it’s always interesting to see different farms and how things differ. “(Tea) is grown in different altitudes, country, regions,” Nolan explains. “There are different technique’s when they harvest the leaf, then different processes to make it the tea into White, Green or Black. All those processes take part in the characteristic of the tea, when you start to develop your palate and picking out the tones in the tea, that’s what grows the fascination of tea.” Among some of his most memorable travels was Hawaii, which Nolan explains is a very experimental with their tea. “The tea grows in the volcanic soil,” he explains. “They have cultivars of tea from places like Japan, India and from China all growing in the same garden. When he went there it was really cool the see the physical characteristics of the different plant because they were growing right beside each other.” Nolan has future plans of travelling to China, Hunan Province, to try one of his favourites – an exotic Hunan Black Tea with cocoa, rich malty notes, deep fudge, smooth with a long finish. “It’s very exotic and dynamic,” he tells us. What really differentiates Steam Tea from its competitors is their meticulous attention to detail. Not all teas are meant to be steeped for the same time or water temperature for that matter, and it’s this care to tradition and quality that really separates them from the pack. “We have brewing standards for each tea, we do cuppings to figure this out,” Nolan explains. “There is just as much history and technique for tea as there is for coffee, if not more,” he continues. “For example a higher grade Japanese green tea will need a lower temperature and different time of steeping because it is a more delicate leaf.” With a Spring/Summer Menu featuring 5 new teas – all great iced, Steam is your destination to stay cool under in the summer sun. With unique gift ideas like “wine bottle” steepers and customizable Tea wedding favors, they’ve got you covered for all your tea needs! Visit their shop at 2342 East Hastings St (inside Donald’s Market), open daily from 11-7, and stay social on Facebook and Twitter for the latest.