Pedro Villalon, owner of O5 Rare Tea and Kombucha Bar, has one wish: for the people of Vancouver to appreciate tea the way they would wine or coffee. He sees his fellow citizens taking a tea with them on the way to work, but it’s in a Styrofoam cup with a paper lid, and he believes that’s one of the worst ways to enjoy tea. He feels that a fine beverage like wine would never be enjoyed like that, so why should tea?
“Starting O5 came out of a need to have people experience tea like they usually don’t,” explains Pedro of why he started the tea and kombucha bar in 2012. He believes that tea should be savoured and enjoyed. "That’s how we would like people to experience tea – the concepts of harvest and simply taking 10 to 15 minutes to enjoy a cup.”
If this sounds more like an after-work cocktail or craft beer bar to you, that’s because Pedro has intentionally designed it that way. He wants O5 Rare Tea and Kombucha Bar to be a place where you drop in after work, travel all over the world and select a tea that you really take the time to savour. He’s even installed a kombucha draught that works much the same way as having beer on tap, only instead of barley, hops and malt, you get a fermented tea beverage that’s always ready to serve. At O5, Pedro’s kombucha is brewed in micro batches for constant freshness and contains only one source of glucose, either organic sugar or honey.
All it takes is a 30-second chat with Pedro at O5 Rare Tea and Kombucha Bar and he can recommend a tea for you that will be perfect for any meal.
For meat-lovers who are about to dig into steak and potatoes, Pedro says balhyocha, matcha or oolong tea would go best. If you’ve prepared a lighter meal, like filet of sole, then a milder tea like a Japanese fusion steamed tea infused in cold water for 12 hours is your best bet. There’s a science behind it, and Pedro is keen on mastering it.
There are so many types of tea in the world and making sense of them all is a lengthy process. Pedro realizes the importance of visiting tea right at the source, which is why he goes on tea excursions once or twice a year to visit farmers and suppliers and make sure his knowledge is as up-to-date as possible.
“I lived in Asia for a couple of years. I spent two years over there, hanging out with the old guys who run a Chinese tea shop,” he says. “After that, I’ve been going to Asia once or twice a year and hanging out with farmers, the people who serve the tea, who make the tea.”
It’s this dedication to the craft that really makes O5 Rare Tea and Kombucha Bar stand out in the crowd and ensures you’ll get a quality, tailored tea experience every time.