Drinking tea in Melbourne, Australia’s coffee capital, is actually not as difficult as you’d expect and in many ways it is less tethered to Asian style teahouses and more inventive with its venues than Sydney. Here is Teashirts’ (by no means definitive) guide to Melbourne venues that serve quality leaf.
Please note this section covers venues that are primarily designed for sitting down to enjoy tea, not tea retailers.
104 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Proprietor: Ayden Graham
One hit was all it took for Ayden Graham to get hooked on the earthy complexity of pu’er and ever since he has returned to this fermented Yunnan tea, pressing his own cakes and storing them carefully in the hope of a beautiful vintage some day. Come in and sit down – the first hit is free. While Kuura specialises in raw and ripe pu’er, there’s also a limited selection of white, green and oolong teas and signature teaware for sale.
Prahran Market, Commercial Road, South Yarra
Proprietor: Kaishan Mellis
It’s a stall but there’s a table in the centre that doubles as a place to perch and sip some tea if you want to try something or if you’re there for the weekly tea gathering. There’s a wide range here, from specialty single origin leaf tea to fancy blends and herbals – something to suit every tea lover.
Milan Tea House
33D Buckingham Ave, Springvale
Proprietor: Wendy Wong
Situated in an area with a significant Vietnamese population, Milan Tea House offers a respite from the bustling town centre. It is elegantly appointed, though crowded with teaware, and offers a range of unusual teas, including 60-year-old pu’er and Tibetan brews.
Tea Drop Brew Bar
Stall 34, South Melbourne Market
Proprietor: Ashok Dias
This smart fitout carves out a nice corner of the market offering much more than the standard blends for which the brand is renowned. Take your time over a pot of $7 single origin tea, from recently harvested greens to aged pu’ers. The only drawback is it’s opposite a fishmonger, so protect your brew’s aroma.
171 Toorak Road, South Yarra
Proprietor: Terry Wu
A step away from busy Toorak Road and you’re in another world, one where you can sit with Terry to taste what he’s drinking or try your hand with a DIY gongfu cha set to brew your chosen tea to your taste (don’t worry if you don’t know how, the friendly staff will teach you). Teamoo also offers a small selection of vegetarian dishes and snacks.
Venues where tea is not the main focus but they’ve put some effort into offering decent loose leaf tea.
60-62 Pelham Street, Carlton
They love their coffee here but they are also adept at preparing specialty tea.
183 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
A specialty coffee bar that serves Australian Tea Masters tea prepared drip style. If you order an oolong or pu’er, let them know to keep the leaves for further infusions.
Kyo Tea House
Lower Ground Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Lower Ground Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone
Matcha-infused sweets and lattes are their specialty, with matcha ice cream intensity ranging from 1 (mild) to 8 (intense), but you can also get it in a bowl straight whisked. Warning: they do it properly at a strength that allows you to see through time.
The French sweets are the highlight here, but they are paired with Mariage Frères tea, a Parisian institution.
Mary Eats Cake
558 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
A tastefully decorated tearoom with a high tea offering to match, serving Impala & Peacock tea. It’s harder to ‘pop in for tea’ than it used to be as the service is more formal.
72a Acland Street, St Kilda
This St Kilda eatery serves all manner of matcha-laced drinks and food. I advise against the ‘matcha tea’, however, as it is not a bowl of whisked powder but a (bad) infusion of it.
378 Little Collins St, Melbourne
455 Chapel Street, South Yarra
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Come for the dumplings but make sure you have some tea to accompany them.
While coffee is its lifeblood, Sensory Lab has a soft spot for fine tea and it brews its select menu well.
146 Swanston Street, Melbourne
It’s big in Japan… this dessert bar has plenty of matcha-laden and houjicha-flavoured desserts as well as tea lattes.
Vue de Monde
Level 55 Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne
The food is the focus here, plenty of artisan morsels with fresh local produce, but instead of an accompanying wine flight you can request a tea flight with the same professionalism applied to matching tea with the food. (Warning: This is a budget-breaker, so come armed with plenty of cash or an excellent credit rating.)
Where to buy leaf tea in Melbourne in addition to the teahouses named above.
- Green Valley Spices: Queen Victoria Market, corner Victoria and Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne
- Lupicia: QV Shopping Complex, 14-16 Artemis Lane, Melbourne
- McIver’s: Queen Victoria Market, Therry Street, Melbourne and 137 Dawson St, Brunswick West
- Serenity Teahouse: (next to) 50 Main Street, Box Hill
- T2: all over Melbourne (< click link for store finder)
- Tealeaves: 380 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras (< I know this isn’t Melbourne but several people have recommended this shop)
I wanted to add a section to highlight some of the wonderful places that Melbourne has lost over the years I’ve visited its tea scene, and also as a way to acknowledge to people dropping in here that I do know about these places but they have sadly closed (in case you didn’t know!).
Rest in peace: Cha-T (Box Hill and CBD), Cuppa Cha (Camberwell; Cuppa Cha online still going), Porcelain Tea Parlour (Carlton), Storm in a Teacup (Collingwood), Tea Connoisseur (Armadale), Tiwari Teahouse (Footscray) and Travelling Samovar (Carlton North; private tastings and Airbnb experiences still available).
Have I missed naming your favourite venue? Maybe I haven’t been yet! Nominate it here.
On the list: Alem Tea (Brunswick)
All photos by Adeline Teoh.