• 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

Storm in a Teacup on Urbanspoon


  1. As a tea lover myself, I do appreciate learning more about tea and the tea making process. Storm in a Teacup sounds like an ideal place to visit. While in China, I visited a couple of teahouses. In Guilin, I bought some Osmanthus tea. Not only did I like the taste which was slightly sweet, but I was also attracted to its name in Chinese (guihua cha). I have heard so much about this flower and had seen it growing in parks during our sightseeing. In Beijing, I went to a teahouse called Dr Tea. I bought some tea called Oriental Beauty (The king of Oolong tea). What was interesting about the tea making process was the little terracotta boy which the lady used to test if the water was hot enough or not. She dunked it in boiling water and then lifted it out. If it peed, then the water was ready. I was given one with the tea I bought. Tried it at home yesterday but it didn't work. Maybe I should have given it more time to warm up first. The weather has been coolish. Ros

  2. Wow, that sounds amazing! What a beautiful story. Keep trying because it sounds worth the persistence.I definitely have a lot more to learn about tea! I went to a tea ceremony in Japan years ago. It was very interesting but all I could remember was being in pain from kneeling so long! It kind of took away from the magical experience of it all.

  3. I went to a tea ceremony in Tokyo years ago too! The green tea was quite bitter though and we were given a tiny sweet snack to have with the tea. The view from the tea house was beautiful. Kneeling is uncomfortable I agree so I sat cross-legged. It helped. In China we were seated at a table with chairs - more comfortable indeed. Oh, I forgot to say the lady also showed us how to hold the tiny teacup in a dainty and elegant way - the thumb and index finger on the rim of the cup, the middle finger touching the base, and the last two fingers pointing outwards; it takes a bit of practice. Men point the last two fingers inwards. Ros