Tea-leaf theif: Tease of the teas

Banyan Tree Seoul

Ok, so I put my hand up to souveniring interesting teas from any hotel I find myself holed up in.

Let me tell you: there is nothing worse than checking in to a
no-holds-barred hotel or villa, complete with hefty price tag, then finding miserable, cheap tea and  nasty instant coffee in the room. It’s
like lining the bins with plastic Coles bags. Yet hoteliers do it
time and time again.

If I want tea, I want the real McCoy. Little leaves floating and ultimately drowning in piping hot water, a cute strainer and a pretty cup and saucer. Right now, a white ceramic teapot sits on the desk, and my office is perfumed with freshly brewing Earl Grey tea.

Recent notable exceptions include Sentosa Villas in Bali, which had not only sachets of Balinese coffee but also some pretty special peppermint leaves and great Earl Grey and the Banyan Tree Seoul, for its tea pyramids of silk, cocooning lavender earl grey. Mind you, they did offer to charge me $6 to have milk delivered to the room. Lucky it’s drunk black. 

Recently, at the gorgeous Eclectic Tastes cafe in Ballarat, I was served
a pot of tea, complete with nana-knitted tea cosy and a strainer that I
just couldn’t work out. It was a rubik’s cube for tea drinkers. It was
fantastic.

A tea drinker from my teenage years, I’ve just realised why I stopped
ordering tea in cafes so many years ago – because I got sick of being
charged $3 for a cheap, tannin-stained mug filled with hot water and a
20-cent bag. At least coffee looks like it has a bit of work put into
it. At least, that’s what the psychology grads – sorry, baristas – tell us.

Eclectic Tastes, 2 Burnbank St, Ballarat (03) 5339 9252

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad, and occasionally I chat on radio, too, from Essentials Magazine to 3AW or the Irish Times.

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