Tea lovers often ask me where to go for tea in my home town, Sydney, so here is Teashirts’ (by no means definitive) guide to Sydney venues that serve quality leaf.
Please note this section covers venues that are primarily designed for sitting down to enjoy tea, not tea retailers.
Astral Tower – The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
The casino’s latest roll of the dice is a good bet for tea-lovers: a tea-focused lounge tucked away on the ground floor of the Astral Tower that turns into a gin bar at night. Specialty tea will set you back double figures but with free refills you’ll get your tea’s worth. Call ahead for a hosted gongfu ceremony.
Shop 1, 35 Railway Parade, Eastwood
Hailing from Lincang, a city in Yunnan, China, Helena and Yao offer a selection of specialty tea – pu’er and dianhong – from their home province, as well as a variety of teaware, from Kamjove express brewers to handpainted gaiwans. While Helena’s father is the master tea processor, Yao’s practises ju ci, the art of pottery repair.
Shop 1, 9 Dora Street, Hurstville
The long-time Chinese tea wholesaler has opened a tearoom to showcase their tea to the public. Sit and brew at your own gongfu cha table and pay by the tea. The house specialty is bamboo stored pu’er. You won’t regret splashing out for the decades-old sheng pu’er.
10 Steam Mill Lane, Haymarket
This tea-focused noodle bar uses Japanese tea in its food (think matcha noodles and rice bowls) and has an enviable tea menu, from ‘straight’ tea – matcha and houjicha – to a variety of tea lattes and iced concoctions. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert!
Ms Cattea’s Tea Bar
Shop 17, 1-21 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point
One of the most knowledgeable tea experts in Australia has opened a tea bar in the heart of Potts Point. It features a nicely curated tea menu with some popular favourites but also a range for more adventurous tea connoisseurs. Also look out for special events and workshops to further your tea knowledge.
MY Tea House
Shop 4-5, 129-133 Military Road, Neutral Bay
Expect to be invited to the tea table whether you’re there to buy or browse. Book ahead for special tea journeys, from beginners tastings to pu’er events. There’s a big range of Chinese teaware on offer, with the specialty tea of choice being pu’er.
Taishan Tea Club
167 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction
Tucked behind a tobacconist front, this secret teahouse is a small but welcome sipping spot on Bondi Junction’s busy mall. The premium Chinese teas and high-end teaware requires an expansive budget but you can sit for a while starting at $10 per head. If you have a sweet tooth, Friday is cake day.
Taka Tea Garden
320 New South Head Road, Double Bay
Japanese tea specialists Taka Pan and Helen Kwok also offer premium Chinese and Taiwanese teas. I’ve only been here a couple of times because it’s not often open when I’m in the neighbourhood; ring ahead to confirm.
88 Addison Road, Marrickville
Known for their specialty oolongs, from fruity and floral dancongs to the rock oolongs of the Wuyi Mountains, Tea Angle have opened a retail and workshop studio to share their passion for pure Chinese tea. Come in, take a seat and have a taste.
Shop 44, 436 Victoria Road, Chatswood
Tea Journal boasts a curated menu of Chinese tea, some from the proprietor’s family plantation, as well as tea blends. While just steps away from the hubs of Chatswood and Chinatown, the peaceful venues are well-suited to taking time for tea.
The Tea Cosy
7 Atherden Street, The Rocks
The Tea Cosy has plenty of character thanks to its heritage setting in the sandstone area known as The Rocks. Expect a rainbow of tea cosies adorning the place and the best scones in Sydney. Trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of scones in Sydney. Perfect for morning tea, afternoon tea, Devonshire tea, high tea…
The Teahouse at Camellia Gardens
Corner Mattson Crescent and President Avenue, Caringbah
Where better to partake of an infusion of Camellia sinensis than at a teahouse besides a garden known for its camellias? Inventive house blends are on the menu alongside classic favourites to sip with your scones, lunch or afternoon tea. Nab a verandah spot for a garden view.
D6 Sussex Centre, 401 Sussex Street, Sydney
Take a seat for a formal tea tasting or relax with an all-you-can-drink-for-$15 session. Topo has a mix of their own plantation teas alongside popular Chinese and Taiwanese teas as well as a couple of rarer teas and an outstanding range of gong fu cha teaware.
Ground floor The Galeries, 500 George St, Sydney
Fun and experimental, using mainly organic ingredients, very few tea blenders that match the flair of T totaler. The duo will also teach you how they do it in their blending workshops. Its speciality is herbal tea but you’ll also find Camellia sinensis here.
816 Bourke Street, Waterloo
A well-appointed teahouse with a modern oriental theme, Zensation excels at hosting tea events, particularly at Chinese New Year. Pair your tea with food by choosing a degustation, or select your own brew from the curated menu. Leaf and teaware also available for sale.
Zen Tea Lounge
15/108 Percival Road, Smithfield
Set in the heart of an industrial area this social enterprise is a popular lunch spot and tea break favourite that supports a number of local causes through training, paid work and financial aid, from domestic violence survivors to veterans and youth unemployment. Try the Vietnamese ancient tea.
Venues where tea is not the main focus but they’ve put some effort into offering decent loose leaf tea.
Bread & Circus
21 Fountain Street, Alexandria
Fresh, wholesome and—above all—delicious food is the main game here, but it also has a wonderful selection of fine Asian teas.
Bruce Tea & Coffee
12 Bridge Road, Glebe
Gotta love a small specialty cafe that looks after its tea customers. Choose from a curated selection of Tea Craft teas served gongfu with multiple infusions if appropriate.
Cafe Cre Asion
101/21 Alberta Street, Sydney
The main game is coffee and macarons but there’s a decent list of Japanese teas and western style teas and blends by French institution Mariage Frères. Matcha lattes come in a bowl.
4 Pitt Street, Redfern
Choose from a pot of loose-leaf Mariage Freres tea, a matcha latte or hojicha thickshake to go with your matcha French toast—this is Japanese fusion for brunch at its best.
43 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
This little cafe deserves two thumbs up for tea service with a good, seasonal range of Tea Craft teas brought prepared to the table. Oolong and pu’er re-steeps offered without asking.
Juan Bowl & Tea
94a Pitt Street, Redfern
As you tuck into your beautifully presented don (rice bowl) you can sip a matched tea by Redfern teahouse stalwarts Zensation.
Oh! Matcha by Chanoma
Shop 11 Regent Place, 501 George Street, Sydney
Okay, hear me out. What if we had a place where you could get Japanese-style hotdogs and matcha drinks and desserts? Here ’tis!
The Palace Tea Room
Level 1 Queen Victoria Building, George Street, Sydney
An enchanting room that serves beautifully presented food with a serious offering of tea by Harney & Sons in fine china pots. Lunch and high tea both recommended (but not at the same time).
The Tea Salon
Level 4 Westfield, Pitt Street, Sydney
An oasis of calm in bustling Westfield, The Tea Salon offers a wide range of blended and flavoured teas accompanied by beautifully decorated cakes and other sweets. Oh there are savoury items too, but let’s face it, you’re here for a high tea treat.
White Rabbit Gallery
30 Balfour Street, Chippendale
A permanent home for contemporary Chinese art, the White Rabbit Gallery also houses a small eatery on its ground floor that serves a range of Chinese tea alongside dumplings and scones.
Where to buy leaf tea in Sydney in addition to the teahouses named above.
- Green Valley Spices: all over Sydney (< click link for store finder)
- Quali-tea: Strand Arcade, 412-414 George St, Sydney
- Silvertip (Pine Tea & Coffee): 17/8 Gladstone Road, Castle Hill
- T2: all over Sydney (< click link for store finder)
- Tenren’s Tea: 389 Victoria Road, Chatswood
- The Tea Centre: Piccadilly Centre, 210 Pitt St, Sydney; Westfield Hornsby, 236 Pacific Highway, Hornsby
I wanted to add a section to highlight some of the wonderful places that Sydney has lost over the years, 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: Beyond The Ordinary Tea House (Balmain), Dragon Well Tea House (Pyrmont), La Floraison (CBD), One Tea Lounge (CBD), Puer (Waterloo), Tea Monkey Lounge (Gordon), TenRen’s (CBD), The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar (Chippendale and CBD), Tian He Teahouse (Crows Nest, though still takes private sessions in Waverton), Top Tea House (CBD).
Have I missed naming your favourite venue? Maybe I haven’t been yet! Nominate it here.
All photos by Adeline Teoh.