Corinne Smith and Amara Jarratt have turned their focus to their first tea bar, opening Thursday. They are the folks behind wholesale tea business The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea and The Sydney Tea Festival, co-founded with Perfect South Green Tea.
While the bar concept was their original dream, selling teas at the Bondi Farmers’ Markets saw the pair go wholesale. “People wanted to use our tea in their cafes, and we got side-tracked. Still, in the back of our minds was the tea bar,” says Smith. The success of the second Tea Festival this year solidified their plan. “People are ready for something new when it comes to tea. We thought, ‘It’s now or never’.”
The Rabbit Hole has turned a former builders’ tools warehouse into a spiritual sanctuary for liquid reflection. The cavernous space and its softening elements was designed by Matt Woods Design. It was inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi, where porcelain pieces are mended with gold, and the result is luminous, with gold, oak, bright white elements and whitewashed, exposed-brick walls. An installation of teabag art from Valeria Burgoa and a handmade kintsugi-inspired bowl collaboration between Woods and Studio Ham provide texture and style. A small retail area allows visitors to take Rabbit Hole tea home.
The opening menu will feature 22 varieties of Rabbit Hole organic tea to be brewed in specially sourced Finum pots (for zero drips). A selection of tea lattes is also available, such as the Summer Fling, which is pine-lime splice-inspired with hints of coconut.
Sparkling teas are poured from beer taps, and there'll be fermented, vinegary "shrub" teas ("An evolution of kombucha," says Smith) as well as "steampunk" specialty brews. “It’s a very controlled way of brewing,” Smith says of the Alpha Dominche system, which uses steam-extraction techniques run off a tablet. “You’re certain to get a very consistent cup of tea every time.” If you can’t make a decision, the “Surprise Me” option is the go; staff will make the choice for you.
Head chef Cristy Adrian’s (formerly of the QVB Tearoom) menu includes lavender shortbread; a matcha granola brunch bowl; toast topped with a tea-marbled egg with black sesame and kimchi; and Lapsang souchong-cured salmon with spring vegetables. There’s also a dessert degustation option, which includes a selection of four sweets (such as an apple taco and matcha popcorn) matched with four teas.
“People expect tea houses to be a certain way, with lace doilies and fancy vintage teapots and that’s not us,” says Smith. “We want to redefine what you thought you knew about tea.”
The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar
146 Abercrombie Street, Redfern
(02) 9502 2668
Mon to Sat 8am–4pm