• Learning about tea at Storm in a Teacup

I had thought I was fanatical about tea.  Each morning my colleagues laugh at me and sarcastically comment “nice teapot” as I warm it, spoon in black leaves, fill it boiling water and warm a smidgen of milk. But I have nothing on Hannah.  For  Hannah Dupree, founder of Storm in a Teacup, tea has not only become her passion but her livelihood.

Invited to a bloggers night at this calm cafe... ahem, tea house, was less than stormy.  As the night progressed we were educated about a range of teas and cocktails, that left me, for one, all the wiser.

A lesson on tea from Hannah Dupree
Tea is made from the Camelia Sinensis shrub with varietals (one from China, one from Assam in India).  Hannah even placed camellia flowers in vases to point out the similarities between those leaves that had grown shiny and hard.

Our lesson was set out as a tasting and explanation from white, green and oolong to black.  All are picked green but then processed in different ways.

White tea is the least processed.  Leaves are picked as buds then dried.  The most famous white tea is Silver Needles, named so for the white needles that form on the leaves.  This should be infused with water at 80° for three to five minutes.

The one we tried was Ancient Moonlight – oh yes, it did take me there.  The colour and flavours were soft, harmonious with a gentle scent of fresh grass.

The green was darker in colour.  Green tea has heat applied in its processing – either oxidised by steam (like in Japan) to give a vegetal flavour, or on a dry heat on warm coals (like in China).  This tea is fragile so water should not be too hot, best is between 70-80° with the tea on water for only a couple of minutes so that it does not become bitter.

The green tea we tried was Mao Jian from Yunnan, direct from the farm.  It was stronger in colour and taste than the white, smelling of fresh grain.

Oolong was a surprise for me.  This tea is oxidised for a short time.  Water can be at 85° and the infusion time can range from 30 seconds to four minutes depending on the tea.

The Dong Ding Oolong that we tried smelt like toasted rice, had some tannin and I really liked it.
Black is what I know best.  We tried the Uva Dry Season from Sri Lanka, grown on a mountain protected from the monsoon.  The leaves become stressed for a stronger flavour.  It was a strong black tea, flavoursome and with tannin.

And a tasting cocktails
As well as tea, Storm in a Teacup mix a range of cocktails.

The JGT (Jasmine Gin and Tonic) was not sweet but floral and refreshing, made from Ancient Jasmine from Vietnam, grown from 400 year old plants.

The Teatini was strong in alcohol with green tea flavour still coming through.  It was sweet and pretty with gold leaf.

The Storm was full of flavours, sweet and becoming sweeter as I drank towards the sugar at the bottom.  A fish shaped cut-out of ginger decorated the glass.  Ingredients included green Chatreuse, chilli and green tea.

Too Drunk to Drive this Russian Caravan had an ice ball of tea mixed with rich, dark alcohols.  It was very sweet and strong, with the flavour of tea strengthening as the ice slowly melted.

This was the dessert of cocktails, washed down with a rich, mousse-like chocolate cake with a creamy texture and soft crust.

I loved the event.  Not just for the flavours, but the education and passion.  I love tea.  Perhaps now I will love it even more.

Storm in a Teacup
48 Smith St 
Collingwood 3066
03 9415 9593

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