For many of us, stealing a moment of zen is tricky at the best of times. But, with a pandemic in the mix, it can be darn near impossible.

These two Melbourne-based companies are making loose-leaf, organic teas that are worth adding to your regular rotation. Take a few minutes out of your day to savour them.

Parlor Teas
Founded by married couple Bonnie Robin and Chris Barnes, this Melbourne-based company's organic teas are grown, blended and packaged in Japan.

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New Zealand-born Robin grew up on a macadamia farm and studied tea blending and brewing techniques at Australian Tea Masters. It gave her an appreciation for different varieties and a fondness for Japanese tea-drinking culture, in particular. Before launching Parlor, the pair visited a number of tea farms in Japan in search of the perfect leaves.

“Much like fine wine, green tea has a huge spectrum of varieties, quality and taste – most of which are fairly unknown outside of Japan,” says Robin.

“Japanese green tea is much more than a cup of healthy tea; it is a daily mindfulness practice, and a transformative ritual to connect with yourself, others and nature.

At present, Parlor sells three teas imported from the mountainous Shizuoka prefecture: Spring Sencha (a steamed green tea), Matcha Genmaicha (a green tea blend) and Kyoto Hojicha (a roasted green tea).

The collection is called “Tea From a Floating World” and each tea is packaged in a sleek black-steel cylinder with tasting notes and instructions for brewing the tea hot or cold printed on the label.

Prices range from $30 to $45 and shipping is free in Australia.

Monk’s Chai
Monk’s Chai is blended in Melbourne using organic Assam black tea, grown by family producers in the Brahmaputra Valley in Eastern India. It’s spiced with a special mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and more.

The company is co-founded by Marwin Shaw, who is behind vegan cafes Monk Bodhi Dharma and Admiral Cheng-Ho and Bayano the Rebel; John Anderson, a marketing professional who spent a year in India doing yoga and drinking chai; and Andy Blyth, who is executive chef at the aforementioned cafes.

“We work on three foundational pillars of taste, ecology and humanity,” says Shaw. “We want to make the farmer the hero.

Monk’s Chai comes in 250-gram or one-kilo bags with instructions for brewing depending on how strong you like your chai – there’s a subtle “bliss” dose, the cafe-standard “vision quest” dose, and the rich “vision quest” dose.

Prices start at $25 for 250 grams. Shipping is $10.