Storm in a Teacup is celebrating its first anniversary with Smith st after snuggling into the street-scape a year ago.
“I wanted to start a business good for people, both health-wise and spiritually,” says owner Hannah Dupree. The spiritual side of Storm in a Teacup filters through the menu with The Russian Caravan described as “All the mysteries of a gypsy’s campfire infused in a cup”.
Dupree found a tea-guru in England and many long distance Skype calls manifested her love for tea in all its forms. She now sources blends from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Kenya and Hawaii with a love for how traditional, artisan producers and ancient makers are constructing contemporary products.
“Tea is so unknown in Melbourne. It’s like good wine,” Hannah suggests. “Or a fine roasted coffee, so much is about the skill of the master.”
Acting as a link between Melburnians and master tea makers in rural Chinese towns, Hannah has an encyclopedic knowledge of tea and its various origins. She informs me that if tea is not herbal, it is all derived from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. From the one plant it is the method of production and how it is treated afterwards that qualifies it as green, black, white or oolong.
Lunch hour at Storm in A Teacup sees open sandwiches with fresh, delicious local produce alongside vegan and gluten free cakes and of course, tea. Hannah describes the royal high-tea blend as tasting “like heaven”. It’s a multi-sweet brew, designed to have with milk and goes with any cake. Because the tea trade is still refining and developing in Australia, Hannah imports her teas. There is, however, no lack of beautiful, gourmet foodstuffs and she maintains a balance by always using local produce in her savory items and baking pursuits. She sources cheese that uses the morning milk on the bottom of the barrel and the sweet afternoon milk on the top for her scrumptious sandwiches.
The store itself is also a puzzle made from pieces of local talent. The logo and cloud paintings were done by a graphic designer from Melbourne, the stools were constructed by her friend and metal worker Dominic Vick, and Obus & Wood from Brunswick designed all the wooden fixtures. Hannah seems passionate about the details; beautiful, delicate things hand-made by people world-wide who love what they’re pouring their labour into.
These gorgeous ceramic cups are made by minna graham, a brand from daylesford, and they line the front wall of the store.
Over the past year, the store transformed from what she thought would be a humble dessert and tea store into a brunch place by day and cocktail bar by night. The bar is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, serving up tea-based cocktails not always with tea as the dominant flavour. Some use subtle tea stocks with the aim to “not always make tea the show pony but use it as a culinary ingredient and platform”. The entire wine list is organic and low sulfite, removing the feeling of a hangover the next morning.
When naming Storm in a Teacup Hannah chose the classic idiom referring to when two friends fight and make a big deal out of something trivial.
While seeing this as “a beautiful visceral representation” Hannah also offers how it humorously works in conjunction with her own relationship with tea.
“In one way tea evokes feelings and there’s amazing flavours and ways with playing with it but at the end of the day it’s like… just shut up and drink your tea.”
Storm in a Teacup
48A Smith Street, Collingwood