Tea Time with Nicky

I arrived in Whiterhorse in the middle of the night after riding Greyhound buses 

across the country for five days. The last thing I wanted was to sit again, but at 

4:30 a.m., feeling cold just because I was tired, Tim Hortons seemed like the 

only place I could go. 

I sheepishly dragged myself accross the street and through the doors without 

looking around me, then sat down with a tea. Eyes half-closed, I burned 

through the hours, darkening a few pages of my notebook and fighting fatigue 

with the hot liquid in my cup. It took me everything just to lay down some 

blurred lines that failed to make sense. 

Exhausted, I took off to watch the sunrise. 

I walked east, toward the dim green light profiling over the horizon, until I hit 

the river. I crossed the bridge to Riverdale, trying to reach a better point of 

view. My footsteps echoed through the silence of the F.H. Collins parking lot. I 

I walked up the road leading to the hospital then cut somewhere uphill. 

The sky was slowly waking up in its teal and indigo sweaters. The sun was 

there, but it was hidden behind a cloudy wall. Although I already felt its heat, I 

knew it wouldn’t show up for least an hour. I turned around to set my sights on 

the mountains and the city comfortably nested within its flanks. 

It was wonderful; a slow slumber reaching for light in this late fall morning. 

Under my feet, the cozy neighborhood of Riverdale. Down there, a little bit 

north across the river, downtown and its lights. Further north, after the 

industrial area, at the end of Mountain View Drive, Porter Creek. 

This is where Nicky lives; this is where I was going. 

Nicky is a nice man with what I’m guessing are remnants of a Hebrew accent, 

and a bit of a crooked smile, who rushed at the door as soon as he saw me 

through his window. On his street, houses have verandas with french-like 

columns, ten-foot bay windows, and double garage doors with pricey SUVs 

parked in front. 

He lives in a semi-basement with a table, a bed, a couch and a TV. It looks like 

he’s about to move. But he’s not. 

Nicky’s happy in Whitehorse. 

A second room featuring two single mattresses is used to host travellers. His 

daughter recently left to live on her own. This was her bedroom. 

Showing me around the place, Nicky pointed to the shower and the laundry 


“You must want to wash now, after riding the bus for so long.” 

Of course, he was right. Nicky was always right. 

“Take care of yourself and do your laundry if you wish first, then we’ll talk.” 

I dropped my bag on one of the beds and headed straight for the shower. I was 

in such a hurry that I forgot to take my soap. Feeling guilty, I used Nicky’s and 

never told him. 

While I was washing, Nicky set up sheets and blankets on the bed. I do carry 

around my sleeping bag, but a comfortable night between two sheets is a luxury I dared not refuse. 

After settling down, I filled up the kettle resting on the counter, took out my 

Feng Qing cake and my little teapot and started brewing. I’d been waiting for 

this moment since I left Montreal five days ago. 

I delicately broke out some of the stone pressed leaves and palced them in the 

bottom of the teapot. I poured in hot water, steeped them for a few seconds 

(15, tops) and finally served the tea in the mugs Nicky had brought from the 


The First gulp was pure pleasure. Feng Qing tea is a real treat, delicate and 

light, much more sweet than bitter. I drank it with ease. 

Nicky sipped his cup and, after a brief moment of hesitation, smiled with 


“You don’t mind if I add a little sweet to it?” 

Of course not. 

Nicky grabbed the agave syrup on the table and dripped some in his mug. He 

tasted it again and let go of a soft, “aah, perfect”. 

He was the first person I ever saw sweetening such tea. And for some reason, I 

found it touching. 

While drinking, we spoke freely about ourselves. Nicky told me about his youth 

in Israel and about Haifa, the city where he lived most of his life. He also told 

me about his travels, his encounters with spirituality, his coming to the Yukon, 

and his life as a Northerner. 

Nicky loves to speak and teach about things that have touched him. And he also 


He asked me about my trips, my writing, my projects, and soon the mugs were 

empty. I poured some more water in the teapot. 

The second steeping was even better than the first one. It always is. Feng Qing 

tea gets smoother with more aroma. Its brew is lighter than water. 

“I like this tea. I wonder if they sell some at the Chinese store downtown?” 

I decided to check before I left. 

Two days later, I was back on the Trans-Canadian trail, walking my way from 

Porter Creek to Downtown at dawn. The sky was clear and colours were 

bursting from the summits beyond Riverdale. I did not find pu’er tea at the 

Chinese store Nicky told me about (neither did I find any Chinese tea). But who 


There’s that new place in town that just opened, Amy’s Tea House. Maybe 

that’ll be somewhere to meet other Yukoners over a steaming teapot. 

We’ll see.   

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