I enjoy drinking tea but would not consider myself an expert by any means. Whether it be a hot cup of black tea with milk and sugar on a rainy afternoon, chamomile with honey to soothe the soul before bed, Chinese tea to wash away greasy foods, Japanese green tea to cleanse the body, berry tea to lift the senses or cooling flavoured iced tea in the hotter months, there is just something so distinctly comforting about tea. It un-tenses the muscles, unclenches the jaw and un-grits the teeth.
I have always enjoyed wandering into the ever-expanding chain of T2 stores, with their massive range of teas from all over the world in their simple yet colourful packaging. In each store is a display table with samples of tea leaves in little cups for viewing, feeling and sniffing. The ornately decorated stores feature Chinese newspapers, both commercial and free, as their wallpaper along with interesting lighting fixtures which have a Moroccan or Turkish feel.
I happen to be wandering through Macquarie Centre one day and come across a T2 within quite by accident, and have to do a double-take when there is an identical looking store directly opposite. Like a stunned rabbit caught in headlights I stand firmly planted in the one spot whilst glancing from side to side in confusion.
Then, the light bulb moment: one of the store signs says T2 Teahouse!
I wander inside in amazement, wondering how long T2 had had this teahouse concept and discover that there is another at Westfield Hornsby. The interior is the same as any T2 but more colourful, no doubt aided by the selection of various sweet things on offer at the counter. There are some red stairs leading up to a small mezzanine level at the back sectioned by a red, Chinese-style railing.
I call Monsieur Poisson and invite him to lunch. We order our food at the counter and choose a table near the entrance along the bench seats. First to arrive is my assam tea along with a bowl of irregular white and raw cubed sugar. The spoon in the sugar bowl has a cute little teapot at the end of the handle! When I glance around at other tables I notice that there is a variety of teapots, sugar bowls and spoons – what you end up with is completely random.
Monsieur Poisson has ordered a glass of ‘Peachy Perfect’ iced tea which is served in a Bodum insulated glass. His drink is soon followed by his toasted turkey sandwich and my potato frittata with bacon and leek. The frittata bears more resemblance to a Spanish tortilla but is nice regardless. With a side salad of rocket sprinkled with toasted almonds, it is a steal at only $8.
Whilst eating I notice some chalk scribble on the wall opposite advertising ‘high tea for two’ for $30. With this sort of pricing I openly declare that I must return to give it a try! And a month or so later I do.
The $30 price-tag includes two large pots of tea which makes for rather good value. The crustless sandwiches are cut square instead of the usual slender finger-shapes but are triple-deckered! There are two savouries which look like shrivelled walnut shells, but turn out to be quite tasty with a cheesy filling inside. The mini-cupcakes are buttery but are topped with a bit too much icing for a non-icing girl like myself. The macarons are brightly-coloured, light and crumbly. It’s a shame that Turkish delight isn’t my thing as there are two plump pieces – one rose-flavoured and the other orange. There are three scones on top to round off proceedings, accompanied by cream and a chunky blackberry jam.
I leave a happy girl after indulging in economic value without economising on quality. Wish I could economise on the calorific intake though!
Macquarie Centre, Shop 440, Cnr Herring Rd & Waterloo Rd, North Ryde NSW
Tel: (02) 9888 3665
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed 9am-5:30pm