Wandering through Tu is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. The four-metre-wide boutique greets you with designer clothing and handmade jewellery, but venture further and you’ll find a white-washed exhibition space tucked into a narrow stairwell.
Tall jars of loose-leaf teas may catch your eye on the way down. Follow your curiosity and discover a cutesy tea salon that leads to a back courtyard sprinkled with vinyl chairs in classroom colours and mismatched coffee tables.
Owner Ann Nie Chong has made clever use of her multidimensional space. She thought about opening a tea parlour for more than a decade before she did it, installing her boyfriend Andrew Turner to infuse the leaves she carefully sources, mainly from local blenders.
Later the duo also started selling its own brand, called Tea for Tu, packaged in apothecary-style, amber glass canisters. Her mother, a tea connoisseur and Chinese teacher, is no doubt proud. Tu also does green-tea lattes and a cakeshake; a milkshake blitzed with cake. Eats include soups, melts, eggy toast and fancy filled donuts.
As for the fashion, Chong favours local designers, particularly those with Asian influences. She loves shibori dresses by 33 Poets, chunky, bolero knits by Monster Alphabets, moon pendants by Anonymous of 379 and bee jewellery by Collect Bowerbird.