Yaletown's Cha Le Tea Merchant offers a high-tech spin on the Chinese teahouse

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      A new Yaletown tea shop is bringing the art of Chinese tea into the ultra-modern 21st century.

      Husband-and-wife team Charlie Zhang and Sue Wang opened Cha Le Tea Merchant and Shop, a 674-square-foot café and retail space at 1207 Hamilton Street in Yaletown on February 4. 

      Cha le means "happy tea" in Mandarin and the sleek and stylish spot offers a well-curated array of over 20 handpicked, single-origin tea from China, including black, white, green, oolong, pu-erh (fermented tea), and herbal teas.  

      John Sherlock

      For those who want to have a drink in-house, the café offers a selection of drinks, such as Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong ($3.95), kombucha ($5.50), ceremonial-grade matcha shots ($4.25), and daily special sparkling teas ($5).

      John Sherlock

      An obvious point of intrigue is their high-tech tea-making process.

      Instead of brewing tea in teapots, this teahouse uses design-savvy computer-controlled glass vacuums with customized temperatures and brewing times at a state-of-the-art tea bar that allows customers to watch their drinks being brewed.

      John Sherlock

      Teas are served in mugs made by Vancouver Island ceramicist Rachel Saunders, each of which slightly vary from one another.

      To accompany the teas, there are a variety of toast selections with toppings ranging from salted caramel and banana with brown sugar and cinnamon mascarpone ($4.25) to prosciutto with smashed avocado and poached egg ($7.50).

      Cha Le's toast with prosciutto, avocado, and poached egg 
      John Sherlock

      For those looking to purchase teas to take home, the teas are sold in teas and boxes in various forms, including loose leaf, coins, cakes, and bricks.

      Selection include Moonlight Beauty 2009 ($30), a white tea from Simao, Yunnan province; Narcissus rock tea ($24), an oolong tea from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian province; Edge of the City ($30), a black tea from Chongqing; and Bathing Beauty ($30), an herbal tea consisting of tied flowers and tea leaves that blossom when steeped.

      Cha Le's Bathing Beauty tea

      Their teas are also available for purchase online at their website. 

      Stay tuned for more developments to come, including a licensed patio scheduled to open in the spring.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook