How do you take your tea? Milk, sugar, honey? At Yugen Tea Bar, you’ll find none of that. Instead, find tea sommelier Thibaut Chuzeville serving tea in its purest form.

Given his extensive industry knowledge (he’s studied tea around the world and was the tea sommelier at Vue de Monde) Chuzeville is an authority worth trusting. At this tea bar in South Yarra’s Capitol Grand building, he wants to showcase the nuance of the drink – according to provenance and varietal – in a friendly space.

Like a wine list, the menu is broken up into colours – white, green, oolong (a middle ground between green and black), red (or black) and dark. The six different styles are distinguished by their oxidation levels; green tea, for example, is processed to prevent oxidation and maintain its vibrant hue, while black tea is oxidised until very dark. The only outlier is dark tea (also called pu’er), a type of green tea which is both oxidised and fermented to further deepen the colour and flavour.

At Yugen, there are more than 40 teas, spanning 10 countries and four continents – which might include a mellow green tea from northern Georgia, to qilan (or “rare orchid”), an oolong from China’s Wuyi Mountains, to smoked black tea from the Thyolo Mountains of Malawi. Thanks to Chuzeville’s brewing style, you can get multiple cups out of the same serving. Each tea is brewed in a small, lidded Chinese brewing vessel called a gaiwan and served in locally made ceramic cups.

A delicate patisserie range matches the drinks; think a chocolate cake infused with caramel black tea and a matcha-mousse dome on a pineapple-biscuit base. Plus, there’s sparkling wine and tea-infused cocktails such as Hojicha Ruby Spritz and Oolong Negronis.

The fit-out by Curious by Design was built to mirror the mountainous regions where tea typically grows. It features angular, rock-like structures extending from the ceiling, and dark grey, charcoal and black hues throughout. Behind the bar seating is a thick, black velvet curtain that can be drawn for extra privacy during dessert degustations or evening cocktail sessions.

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Updated: June 15th, 2023

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