The following posts have no fixed theme or style, but I hope you enjoy reading them!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Tamanian Tea: A Visit to Chado

Some time back in February I wrote to May King, the Autralian tea expert, to ask for some advice. I had a trip planned to Tasmania, and needed to find my fix of decent tea at some point. She recommended Chado : The Way of Tea as having the best reputation in the whole state of Tasmania, although she admitted that she had never got over to try it out. So, May King, this is my verdict... 10/10 This tea shop is run by one of the founding members of the Violent Femmes, Brian Ritchie, and his wife Varuni Kulasekera. Neither of them is Australian as I had first assumed, but now I have visited Tasmania and experienced it for myself, that they would want to move there is less of a surprise. Hobart is a metropolitan city in a wild land that is packed full of forests, hills and wildlife. Hobart is pretty intense, but Chado certainly breaks the mould. As you enter from the busy street, a meditational calm stretches out to you so that you are immersed before the door even closes behind you. We were welcomed by a very nice lady at the door, and our eyes were drawn towards the source of the japanese music in the room. It was Brian Ritchie himself, now an accomplished Japanese flute player, playing for the guests. We were taken into another room, decorated in red and black in keeping with the japanese style. Both walls were covered from top to bottom in shelves covered in tea tins with every type of tea. The menu is excellent, with descriptions of all of the teas to help with your decision. Unfortunately for me, that kind of detail always leaves me with more questions than answers, but luckily our waitress (I'd rather call her a Tea Advisor actually) knew every detail and helped us with our decision. My girlfriend Ange settled on a Chai, and I decided on Golden Buddha Oolong.
The tea is served in a small teapot, with a beatuiful ceramic cup to drink it from. Then there is a small dish to put the leaves on when they have brewed enough, and, best of all, a thermos flask of water for resteeping. I've never been to a tea shop that gives you a thermos of water like this, and it seems like the perfect solution, allowing you to resteep without either asking for more water, or having a pot of water that goes cold as quickly as the tea. In all, I brewed the tea four times, and every time it was brilliant. One of the best oolongs I have ever had, and it was still excellent and full of flavour on the fourth steep. Even Ange (who is not quite as much of a tea enthusiast as I am) was impressed with this. We stopped to talk to our Tea Advisor for quite a while in the end, she was very welcoming and willing to chat; she didn't even get impatient when we asked to smell tin after tin after tin of different teas and ended up buying three types of tea, all of which are now at home being enjoyed regularly. A peppermint tea, lemongrass and ginger, and of course my Golden Buddha Oolong. The only note of caution is: Don't go on a Monday like we did first time round... it's not open