Tea lovers rejoice! The opening of Theic Tea Bar in Collingwood has brought speciality tea to the fore of Melbourne’s cafe scene, with an establishment dedicated to the wonders of tea. Opened by Nathan Wakeford, President of the Australasian Specialty Tea Association (AASTA) and Managing Director of Somage Fine Foods, the aptly named ‘Theic Tea Bar’, is a nod to those who are ‘prone to the immoderate consumption of tea’.
Theic is certainly dedicated to tea, with over 25 rare speciality teas on offer from the Chamelia Reserve Selection, an exclusive range that can be found on the menus quality focused venues including Vue de Monde, Monk Bodhi Dharma and Proud Mary.
Theic is located in Insitu, a designer furniture store in the backstreets of Collingwood. The collaboration provides a modern and quiet setting that allows patrons of Theic to sample the great range of teas whilst admiring the best of modern furniture. On the day we visited Theic, the bar was full of customers however there was something quite serene about the space as there was not hustle and bustle that you would normally experience in other cafes.
Given that Theic is a tea focused cafe, it comes as no surprise that there isn’t a coffee machine. Perhaps this explains the calmness that I felt while sipping on my tea. The menu is broken down into individual sections, depending on the tea variety – White, Black, Oolong, Green, Blooming, Peurh and Tisane. I have to say it was quite daunting to see such an extensive list especially given I thought I knew a bit about tea, the menu was more foreign to me than a Parisan Metro Map. However, the staff at Theic are happy to talk to you about the differences in tea, and based on what you tell them, they can help guide you in the direction of certain teas that will suit your palate. Admittedly, I learned a lot about tea speaking with Nathan (who happens to be amazingly passionate about tea) and the differences with tea leaf colour and the impact of leaf oxidisation on the taste. Oolong is partly oxidised, Green tea is not oxidised and white tea is early picked. I was enlightened.
I have a penchant for black tea, so Nathan suggested I try the Wild Ancient Black Tea from China, a sweet and rich tea with a more complex flavour and the Blooming Princess Flower tea also from China that has more of a Jasmine overtone in taste. The teas are carefully prepared with fresh spring water that is heated to a specific temperature depending on the type of tea.
The fresh spring water is specially collected every week by Nathan from Mount Donna Buang, giving the tea an enhanced natural taste. The bulbous glass bottles containing the spring water shows Nathan’s dedication to his love of tea.
Each tea is served with the finest Taiwanese and Japanese handmade artisan teaware and the leaves are left for you to enjoy the fragrant smell they exude on your tray, as well as giving you the opportunity for a second brew.
The teas served at Theic have been personally sourced by Nathan, utilising the knowledge gained from his visits to more than 90 tea estates throughout China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, India, Korea and Japan. The teas served at Theic include a wild ancient black tea from Yunnan, a sumptuous high grown Nepalese white tea, enchanting Oolong teas from Taiwan and roasted wild persimmon leaves from Korea. Lovers of Chai will be well satisfied and the adventurous (and caffeine deprived) might consider Theic’s Benifuuki green tea latte which has a charming and subtle green tea taste with a latte texture.
If you’re after something a bit cooler then make sure you try the cold-infused sparkling tea. My recommendation would have to be the Lemongrass and Ginger sparkling tea which was an amazingly refreshing drink.
To accompany your tea drinking, Theic offers a small food menu to enjoy sweet and savoury delights from Chinita Desserts, Loafer Bakery and Botanical Cuisine. The Theic tasting plate was a delightful combination of Loafer toasts and varied Pates; I chose Mushroom & Truffle Pate along with Victorian Olive Pate which were perfect for my savoury taste buds. My guest tried the Coconut and Chia Porridge with Granola which she described as an “amazing combination of flavours and textures without being too heavy”. Nathan has also said that the Snickers Ball and the Mocha Fudge Brownie bite have been a hit with visitors, both made with gluten free and vegan ingredients.
It’s no surprise that the end to end experience at Theic tea bar was a memorable one. With such a great focus on tea and the dedication of the owner, Nathan Wakeford, it’s no wonder that you can really become truly immersed in your tea experience at Theic.
Theic Tea Bar by Chamellia: 77 Cromwell St, Collingwood 3066
Open Tuesday to Friday by appointment only, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm