Amber and Paul Sunderland of T Totaler beam when they talk about their tiny tea bar in The Galeries. It opened a fortnight ago, the result of a successful stint at The Strand Arcade two years ago and their goal of opening in the city.
Designed by Amber in collaboration with Lucy Humphrey, the small, white space is warmed by potted plants and a show-stopping oval light by Studio Hamm. “People say, ‘Oh, it seems a lot bigger than it really is,’ and it feels really inviting with the big open doors,” Amber says.
There’s a small tea station (consisting of a pair of sinks, tea-making instruments, and all the loose-leaf blends) for passersby to pick up a sparkling, smoky black tea-based ginger beer; a hot, floral-noted herbal blend; or a creamy French Earl Grey hot chocolate topped with pink Persian fairy floss.
Shelves are stocked with apothecary jars of loose leaf tea and three metres of stoneware test-tube holders handmade by Sydney ceramicist Studio Enti. Glass medicine flasks can be filled with any of the three tapped kegs of cold brew, sparkling or mocktail-esque teas.
“It gives people an opportunity to have really good quality tea on the go,” says Amber. “It’s sort of changing people’s perception on tea, but still giving them a moment to enjoy a good cup.”
Collaboration and community feature at the Sunderlands’ second venue; an extension of the “strong-knit Newtown vibe” of their other store. Studio Enti and ceramicist Mukumono supply handmade teaware, and there’s Danish glassware by Samadoyo. Tea towels are by Weave, with proceeds returning to the Redfern youth community.
The tea bar also stocks tiny, gem-shaped chocolates made with Daintree cacao, crafted in collaboration with Bakedown. Each features delicate swathes of gold, bronze or black, and is filled with wattleseed, smoked-tea caramel or a divine lemon myrtle, blue pea flower and ginger ganache – flavours inspired by, or including, T Totaler teas.