An organic tea bar? Yes please! For all of Sydney's coffee specialists and cafes, now we have a dedicated tea bar from Rabbit Hole Teas. Located on Abercrombie Street in Redfern it is a gorgeous, airy space that serves a huge range of gorgeous teas as well as tea infused dishes. Go down the Rabbit Hole...
How does the law of attraction go? You wish for something and then the universe gives it to you? Although Oprah believed it and even did shows on it I wasn't quite sure if it was that simple. But when I hear that an organic tea bar has opened I think back to a couple of weeks before when I was sitting at a cafe talking to Joan Holloway wishing that there was a tea bar instead of a coffee bar. Maybe Oprah was right?
It took us a few weeks to get to the Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar and and in that time, many have already found this beautifully outfitted cafe. There are two dining sections, a front section and the main section where there is a retail store and cafe. When Mr NQN and I walk in we are given two menus and directed to find seating and when we are ready to order, we do so at the counter. It is named after the place where Alice had her tea party in Alice in Wonderland.
First things first, the space is gorgeous. All white washed walls with pops of yellow and white it's bright and breezy and positively spring-like in tone and atmosphere. It's a bit of a case of musical chairs - you're best to go with at least one friend who can hold your table while you order because it's a popular place on weekends and tables are sought after. It's busy this Sunday morning at 11am and there's a video shoot going on at one table. Each table is equipped with brushed gold cutlery (LOVE!) and sparkling water is complimentary.
Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar is the brainchild of Corinne Smith and Amara Jarratt who own Rabbit Hole Tea and created the Sydney Tea Festival. Both had jobs outside the food and beverage industry - Corinne was a singing teacher and Amara a fire fighter. Corinne explains, "I taught singing for over 10 years but was itching for something else creative to do and actually Amara is still a fire fighter!! She does two 24hr shifts every 8 days so between that and us raising a toddler (who is with us all the time) and a wholesale tea business, it’s hectic to say the least! We got into tea after walking past a chocolate cafe 5 years ago and me saying to her “there’s really nothing like this for tea lovers is there?”.
She continues, "From there, we searched for the right tea to offer people in our Tea Bar but we couldn’t find anything of the quality we wanted to serve so we decided to make our own. We didn’t quite realise that that in itself was a whole business venture. It was well received and we ended up going down the wholesale route which kept us very busy for a few years. Two years ago we co-created the Sydney Tea Festival with our friends over at Perfect South and it just reinforced that the time was right for our original tea bar idea so we threw everything we had at it and here we are today!".
To be honest I'm a bit overwhelemd by choice - I love tea lattes and I could easily and happily drink any of the seven on the latte menu and then I flip to other pages and oh my! You know the saying "be careful what you wish for"? There are tea shrubs (a mix of soda, vinegar and fruit), muddled teas, sparkling teas on tap and steampunk brewed teas using an American Alpha Dominche system for precision brewing. Corinne explains, "It controls the water temperature, steeping time and agitation of the leaves via a Nexus tablet. All the parameters are pre-determined so the resulting product is really consistent and it produces an amazingly clean and delicious tea. We choose to brew our premium, single origin tea finds on it."
I surrender to the very helpful and lovely gal behind the counter taking orders firstly putting one of their very photographed flower petal biscuits on order. She helps me with the rest of the choices and I bring a playing card with the 6 of spades back to the table. Each food item has a suggested matched tea pairing.
Rabbit Hole Chai Latte $6 and Lavender infused shortbread $5
It took all my strength to not order a London Fog tea to see if it was like the ones I often drink and love in Canada (oddly, not in London despite the name). You can get full cream, light or soy milk and we go for full cream. It's the Rabbit Hole's signature chai and brewed with local honey although it is quite light on the sweetness. It comes in an adorable cup and I add some sugar and savour this. And the fact that all the teas are organic is quite an achievement.
Lime pie tea $5
The teas come in German Finum pots. Corinne and Amara tested hundreds of pots and arrived at the Finum. "It consistently pours well, without dripping which is my mind is a total must have. We also loved that the infuser doesn’t need to be removed to stop the brewing process which keeps things nice and neat and tidy. The glass is the cherry on top. We really like to see the colour of the tea and watch the leaves dance about it in the pot," Corinne says. We are instructed to turn the handle at the top when the hourglass timer finishes as that is when the tea is ready. The lime pie is made with organic white tea, organic coconut flakes, freeze dried lime, organic natural flavour. It's delicate, refreshing and the perfect tea for Mr NQN.
Tea marbled egg with kimchi, kale and black sesame $13
Now this is the perfect breakfast toast. A simple slice of white sourdough (there's also 5 grain, gluten free or fig/raisin/cranberry bread) is topped with kim chi, soft kale and black sesame with a Chinese tea egg on top. It's simple and just the right size for breakfast and everyone goes so well together that I'm inspired to make something similar at home (maybe I'll add cheese to the kimchi).
Lapsang souchong cured salmon with raw spring vegetables $19
The cured salmon is a pretty dish that is cured with lapsang souchong tea, that smoky distinctly flavoured tea. Usually tea flavourings are mild but here it is stronger. It's served with finely sliced fennel and beetroot and the freshness of the salmon and the crunch of the salad makes it a light and tasty dish.
Slow cooked beef in black tea sandwich $14
Mr NQN loves the beef sandwich which is slow cooked in black tea and served with cornichons and cauliflower pickles with cheddar on toasted white sourdough slices. The bread is fresh and the beef soft and it reminds me of a cousin of the reuben sandwich. "This is my favourite ever beef sandwich," Mr NQN says as he likes how the pickles balance the rich beef.
Dessert is of course one of their lavender infused biscuits topped with dried flower petals. There is also a flower petal topped chocolate cake and the cakes and pastries are also made in house by the chefs Cristy Adrian and Chelsea Logan from the QVB Tea Room. But the similarities with the traditional afternoon tea room are few and far between. Corinne says, "High tea stands, vintage tea sets and the like are not us at all and we want to push away from traditional expectations of tea so it’s an exciting time and we're loving what they’re creating." There is also a dessert degustation available that matches four teas and four sweets for $27. But considering we shared three dishes, a crispy buttery shortbread biscuit is the perfect ending to our tea laden meal. Between sips of chai latte and lime pie tea of course.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a tea or coffee drinker? Do you ever vary your tea or coffee order? Do you drink your tea or coffee black or with milk and or sugar? And do you believe in the law of attraction?
This meal was independently paid for.
Rabbit Hole Tea and Bar
146 Abercrombie St, Redfern NSW 2016
Phone:(02) 9310 2207
Monday to Saturday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm