Bianca: Fifteen years ago, I would associate tea and in general ‘tea drinkers’ with either oldie folk or with some posh British peep’s – with it really coming into the mainstream social consciousness the last 5-10 years because of an increased focus on sustainability, quirky and interesting blends and for some reason a whole lot of beards but perhaps that’s just the clientele. Not to mention the powerhouse T2 that has really made tea accessible to those not quite sure what on earth they are doing/drinking!
‘T Totaler Tea’ has made Newtown its home since 2013, started by couple Amber and Paul (a British expat). The space itself is quite interesting with recycled timber furnishings, chemical brewing kits and walls lined with various tea’s in TT’s glass pharmaceutical jars.
A small group were gathered by the ever effervescent blogger/socialite Bob W – the man behind the http://www.jugernauts.com/. Typically closed on a Tuesday evening, we had the place to ourselves.
To start our exploration into all things tea, we began with something neither myself nor Alex had experienced before ‘Sparkling Immune Tea’ –Echinacea, olive leaf, rose-hip, aniseed myrtle, sparkled. $6 in champagne flutes. It certainly made for a bizarre first sip leaving us a little perplexed – in a good way.
T Totaler offers a fairly decent food menu with a strong focus on locally sourced ingredients and produce, as well as incorporating the actual tea within some dishes.
The first dish of the night was the ‘Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Salad’ – Marrickville smoked mozzarella, tomato, pickled herbs, pickled green tea, organic sourdough (Australia Prosciutto $3 extra). $12.50. Undoubtedly a beautiful and vibrant salad, the colours alone invoke blissful summer vibes, this was essentially a well done panzanella salad. I’ve never been a fan of tomatoes on their own, generally they have to be wedged between slices of bread but these were truly gorgeous, it’s quite obvious much attention is paid to the quality of ingredients used. Paired with the salad was the ‘Shin Cha’ an Australia grown green tea, I’m not a tea connoisseur and wont embarrass myself and pretend I am one. I can only tell you I enjoyed it.
Next we tried the ‘Mango & Papaya Salad’ – W/Asian greens, pickled green tea leaves and topped with fried shallots. $13.50. The food is geared to more of a low key, tea accompaniment with most of the offerings being quite light. This was a perfect example of that, this was my first taste of mango this year (having been overseas during summer earlier this year). Mangoes are really the first sign of the warmer weather. I’m not a fan of papaya so mostly ate around that but I enjoyed the pairing of the mango and the fried shallots.
Paired with the Tea-groni was the ‘Salmon & Fennel’ – Tasmanian smoked salmon, ricotta, blood orange, aniseed myrtle and sourdough toast. $13.50. For the most part, I do not enjoy seafood, smoked salmon is right up the top of my ‘Do Not Like’ list but I make a point of trying most things if it’s put in front of me. This was one of the best tasting smoked salmon ‘renditions’ I have ever eaten, there was no overpowering fish flavour. Definitely a strong recommendation for lovers of salmon.
We were all suitably amused and impressed by the delicate way Paul was putting together 12 ‘Tea-Negronis’ – Siberian ginseng, bitters, orange, chamomile, juniper. $8. Tasting just like a regular Negroni, this was a favourite amongst the table.
Lastly we had a pairing of a refreshing cold brew, infused overnight – ‘Foraging for Berries’ was a great alternative to coffee with our desserts. The desserts do change frequently but on this occasion we had the pleasure of sampling both the ‘Fennel Citrus Cake’ and the ‘Bitter Chocolate Cake/Brownie w/ lime and Thai Basil. Both strong options to end a meal on, especially as all the flavours up until this point were rather clean and light handed. Alex and I both preferred the striking bold flavours of the dense little brownie. A winner in my books.
I really loved T Totalers drive to source ingredients locally and you can’t help but get swept up in Amber and Paul’s love and enthusiasm for their product. So I say deviate from T2 for a minute and support these local Sydney tea enthusiasts.
Photos By Alex