Disclosure: I attended courtesy of Storm in a Teacup and Zilla & Brook.
The story goes that the origins of tea began about 4,700 years ago. It’s said that Chinese Emperor Shennong was drinking a bowl of boiled water when some leaves from a nearby wild tea tree fell in.
What would you do if leaves fell into your cup of water? Would you go ahead it and drink it? Emperor Shennong must’ve either been a very brave or very curious man.
Whether it’s true or not, it’s a cute story. And even if that particular story is just a myth, tea does have a long and complex history. And at Storm in a Teacup, a small tea bar in Collingwood, you can try some of the results of this history.
I was invited there recently for a tea and cocktail event. The owner of Storm in a Teacup, Hannah, started the evening off with a Tea 101, where we had a introduction and tasting of various teas. Did you know that the different kinds of tea – black, white, green, oolong – all come from the one plant, the camellia sinensis? It’s the way the leaves are processed that gives the different types their flavours and properties.
White tea is the least processed, made only with the young tips of leaves, which are handpicked when the tree is still in bud and then gently dried in the sun.
With black tea, the tea leaves are dried and rolled, which breaks open the tissue and starts a oxidisation / fermentation process after being exposed to air. Afterwards the leaves are fried or roasted with hot air.
Green teas differ from black teas in that they don’t go through an oxidisation process. After the leaves are plucked, they are steamed or pan fired.
And finally, oolong goes through a semi-oxidisation / fermentation process. When the leaves are slightly yellowed, the fermentation process is stopped, creating a tea that’s quite different from both black and green.
For Tea 101 we tried four different teas. The first was Ancient Moonlight (isn’t that a beautiful name?), a white tea from Yunnan in China. The leaves had minimal processing, creating a tea with very soft, subtly sweet flavours. A really nice tea.
Mao Jian was the second, a green tea from Yunnan. It had a very assertive flavour and smelt and tasted quite strongly of broccoli. I can’t say I’ve ever had a green tea quite like it.
Dong Ding was an oolong tea from Taiwan and it was stunning, with a beautiful aroma and biscuity notes. Lovely, lovely tea. I absolutely loved this one.
And finally, there was a black tea – the Uva Dry Season from Sri Lanka. It was mid-strength, mildly sweet, and semi-tannic with caramel aromas.
In addition to teas, Storm in a Teacup also serve tea cocktails. We had a Jasmine Gin & Tonic – made with jasmine tea, Westwinds gin and Capi Tonic. I was quite impressed that the jasmine tea came through really well in this drink, giving a delicate fragrance.
This one was the Teatini – containing Delord Blanche Armagnac, Sejak Korean green tea and gold leaf. The tea was infused at room temperature in the Armagnac for four minutes, and added its buttery notes to the savoury dry cocktail.
The Storm contained El Jimador Resposado, Domain De Canton, Green Chartreuse, chilli, ginger and Sejak green tea. This was a strong, punchy, citrusy drink – quite sweet and syrupy, but also spicy. The little fish on the glass is made of ginger, which added further to that spiciness.
The final cocktail was the hilariously named – Too Drunk to Drive this Russian Caravan – . The inspiration behind this cocktail is that in Russia, very strong black tea is often drunk with a spoon of jam. This cocktail is made with vodka O, Mirto liquor, limone liquore, Pennyweight Ruby, Ardbeg single malt, and a big round ice sphere made with Russian Caravan tea. As the ice melts, it gradually releases its smokiness into the cocktail.
We ate some savoury snacks – olives, cheddar and waygu breasola – earlier in the evening, and then finished the night with a slice of this excellent chocolate fudge cake with tonka bean cream.
Storm in a Teacup not only is a cute name, it’s such a sweet place. If you want to learn more about tea, like to drink tea, or like to imbibe a cocktail or two, I’d recommend a visit. They also serve brunch, bar food and cakes if you need some food with your tea.
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Storm in a Teacup
48A Smith Street
Phone: 03 9145 9593