Growing up in country Victoria in the 80's, tea came in one of two forms: the cardboard tasting tea bags which my parents still enjoy to this day, or the mysterious tea caddy of loose fragrant leaves that my grandmother kept high in her kitchen cupboard. To this day I have no idea of the brand my grandmother used, all I knew was that mysterious tin was always full, the Magic Pudding of tea tins perhaps.
Tea time at my grandmother's house was always interesting. I still have clear memories of watching her scooping the leaves into the teapot, a tiny little woman, resplendent in her pearls and lippy. More Sundays than I can count we sat at her kitchen table, complete with rickety legs, multiple doilies and tea china, ready to down a cup or two. It was always pot luck as to how the tea would come, though if there wasn't a centimetre of leaves in the bottom of the tiny china tea cups, it just wasn't tea. From the almost tasteless initial cup where the tea was so diluted you almost had to imagine flavour, right to the last thick cup of burnt umber, tea took on the form of a ritual gastronomic challenge every Sunday afternoon, and was not for the faint of heart. Her lack of tea prowess was somewhat ameliorated by the generous provision of Lamington Fingers, Teddy Bear biscuits, and her feather light sponge cakes, all very important when you're 12. But needless to say, tea was more a means to a sugary end, than a joy.
It was only when I grew older and moved away from home, that I realised tea could actually be a pleasure. Or more importantly, that it came in more than those two uninspiring varieties. As much as I love my coffee, these days I also have a steadily growing collection of tea canisters filled with various fragrant offerings. The only tea bags in residence are for my parents who to this day, wont try any of "that fancy stuff". Tea has now become part of my night time pampering routine, and there's nothing quite like a fragrant cup or two at the end of a long day.
I am always on the look out for new flavours and tea ware (I may need a tea intervention if I'm honest), so I was rather excited to have the opportunity to try Oriental Teahouse's, Strawberry & Cream tea.
And the verdict:
It smells divine. I could sit and sniff the dried tea all day, and when brewed the smell fills the house. Or, as my youngest put it, "it smells like jelly", high praise from a 14-year-old. The colour of the brewed tea is quite lovely and even in today's rather overcast light still a beautiful pinky red tone, which turned a lovely plum red the longer it brewed.
In homage to my Nanna, I had to include my one and only doily in the pictures.
Drinking out of mum's favourite teacup wasn't tooooo embarrassing.
Overall, I'd recommend the tea more as a very refreshing sweet iced tea, than a hot tea. Though if hot I would let it steep a little longer to develop the flavour. I do like that the tea is caffeine-free, so a cup of an evening isn't going to add to my ever present insomnia. My son's reaction makes me wonder if it could indeed be used to make a refreshing dessert. Maybe an adult jelly with a drop or two of strawberry liquor? Seems I have a plan for the weekend ahead!
Their extensive range of teas, including Strawberry & Cream, are available for purchase from their online shop which is always a bonus for those of us who have trouble getting out and about. Their frozen dumplings are also available for purchase so you can enjoy them at home with a cup of your favourite tea. Be still my dumpling loving heart.
Oriental Teahouse can be found online at:
Time to feed my addiction with yet another tea canister, or tea pot, or cup, or tea, or....dumplings!