Hop to Redfern to escape down The Rabbit Hole and enjoy a unique and inventive tea experience. There are no lace curtains, chintz furniture or tea-doilies in sight at this recently opened tea bar. This trendy spot will redefine what you expect of a teashop.Partners, Corinne Smith and Amara Jarratt, started a wholesale tea business half a decade ago with a dream to eventually create a bespoke tea bar. Their vision has finally materialised, and it’s easy to see that so much love has gone into their first bricks-and-mortar venture.
Matt Woods Design has transformed the former warehouse along Abercrombie Street into a contemporary refuge for lovers of tea. The cavernous space is bright with vast windows, bold lighting and whitewashed walls. A luminous teabag sculpture, constructed by artist Valeria Burgoa, hangs magnificently from the ceiling. The finishing touch of beautiful textures combine to make the space simultaneously sleek and natural. Think; oak, gold details, geometric tiled floors and a featured tea bar that’s surface resembles cracked porcelain. It’s a modern sanctuary for tea-drinkers.
The menu has a focus on organic, wild-crafted ingredients. It demonstrates ample creativity and an obvious passion for all things tea. The imaginative drink options are seemingly bottomless, whilst the innovative tea-inspired food menu is as clever as it is appealing. Just in case you’re stuck for choice, most of the dishes are matched with a suggested beverage.
Overall, the quality of the food and drinks is outstanding. Much like the tea itself, the fare is carefully considered, beautifully presented and nourishing.
From the tea latte section, I selected the dreamy tasting matcha latte ($5.50) with soy milk. Having dabbled with the matcha latte trend whist living in New York, I was keen to put The Rabbit Hole version to the test. It was silky and made with the soy milk it had a sweetness and softness about it that would be ideal for someone new to the world of matcha. It was less intense in matcha flavour than some I have tried before, and I found the sweetness pleasant although it may be a tad too sweet for some. The lattes are comforting, wrap your hands around the ceramic mug and it is like being gently hugged each sip. The sort of drink best suited for whiling away an afternoon with a good book.There are 20 original teas to choose from, many of which are conveniently labelled as caffeine-free. These traditionally brewed teas use the functionally designed Finum teapot that has a simple twist motion for the infuser basket when the tea has steeped. Turning the lid clockwise will stop the tea brewing. So, that no matter how long you’re chatting away, your tea remains perfectly brewed.
I was tempted by The Summer Fling described as a ‘splice of pineapple, lime, coconut and black tea’. However, I couldn’t resist the cheeky surprise me option ($5) in which the staff carefully selects your brew. I was pleasantly surprised with the Ruby Zing; a deep, jewel red coloured tea made from crimson hibiscus, cherry and coconut. It was plush and soothing.For real tea-aficionados you can get specially ‘steampunk’ brewed tea. For those less clued-in – it’s a revolutionary system geared to unlock flavour profiles. It comes with a luxe price tag at $11 per serve, so best left to the insatiably curious and tea connoisseurs.From the specials, I opted to sample the Rosemary and Ruby Red Grapefruit fresh infusion ($6). This bright, citrusy concoction is served in a glass teapot with fresh slices of grapefruit. It’s presented with the waiter personally cutting rosemary into the brew in a somewhat brief and modern tea ceremony. Those little touches add some finesse to the experience of the tea bar.
Another delightful creation on the specials menu was perfect for the scorching 30’C day – the Jasmine and Lychee Teajito ($8). It’s a playful take on the mojito as jasmine, mint and lychee are smashed with fragrant jasmine green tea and served icy cold in a tall cocktail glass. Equally refreshing was the icy-cool Ginger Godess ($8) made with a crowd-pleasing spicy tea muddled with fresh passionfruit and lemon juice.There are plenty of ice-cold brews on the menu for when the mercury rises. My favourite drink of the day was the bright and effervescent ‘shrub’ tea. This sparkling special was a perfectly sweet, slightly vinegary and well-iced blueberry and lavender tonic spritzed with green tea ($6). Much like kombucha that you may have seen at health stores, ‘shrub’ tea has probiotic benefits without that distinctive kombucha taste. It tasted like a healthy fizzy drink and was downright refreshing.
There is no need for an ‘Eat Me’ label to persuade anyone to tuck into the edible delights on offer at The Rabbit Hole. All the dishes were beautifully presented, keeping up that visually appeal already seen in the teashop design and drink offerings. The food is reasonably priced, serving sizes are just right and the quality is top-notch.
The brunch bowls are a nourishing start to the day. The matcha granola ($13), fresh seasonal fruit, unsweetened yoghurt couldn’t be prettier as it’s garnished with freeze dried raspberries and colourful petals. The cereal is nut-free, made from oats and grains tossed in matcha. The granola is served with a side of pale green matcha milk, which you can pour to your preference of milkiness. It’s a real treat.
There is a whole section of the menu dedicated to ‘Topped Toasts’ which offers a choice of bread – sourdough / five grain / fig / raisin / cranberry or gluten free. Whilst the almond butter, banana and chai-soaked chia seeds ($11) topping took my fancy, the granola had satiated my sweet tooth (for the time being).
I was curious to try the savoury ‘Ricotta with pickled red onion, lapsang souchong and bacon jam’ ($13) with a sourdough toast. It hit all the right notes from the faintly bitter tea, the salty bacon and the tangy pickled onion against a creamy ricotta and crunchy toast.
The avocado, edamame and sprouts with a sencha dressing ($13) topped toast on sourdough are a beautiful medley of greenery but lacked a little flavour. Still, it is a super healthy option and tasted like the toppings were picked fresh from the garden.
The salad section is a little misleading, only in the fact that they are more on the heartier side of things. The green tea soba noodles with ginger-sesame chicken and pickled carrot ($16) is a satisfying dish. Expect more noodles and less leafy greens. The soba noodles are cooked perfectly to the tooth, the chicken is tasty and the carrot gives the dish a nice crunch. There is a subtle hint of Asian flavour that gives a welcome lightness to the dish.
The lapsang souchoung cured salmon with raw spring vegetables ($19) is again less like a salad. It’s best described as a platter of beautifully sliced salmon garnished with crunchy, colourful radishes, yellow beetroot, fennel and parsley. It’s so fresh and pared back rather than over dressed. I recommended sharing this with a friend who ordered the avocado and edamame topped toast.
I was keen to move on to the sweet things, as I cannot help but associate tea with cake. Head chef Cristy Adrian, whose resume includes the QVB Tearoom, has come up with an undeniably modern take on traditional afternoon tea items with the array of tea-infused treats.
The gorgeous lavender shortbread are buttery discs adorned with kaleidoscopic floral patterns. Due to their gorgeous appearance these have inevitably been adopted by the Instagram community as The Rabbit Hole’s signature treat. The shortbread biscuit is somewhere between snappish and crumbly in texture, sweet and vaguely perfumed.
An enticing display of sweets can be viewed at the front counter; from matcha whoopie pies, earl grey chocolate cake, house-made lime pie marshmallows and gluten-free alternatives like the sticky orange and almond cake.
I was eager to taste the earl grey chocolate cake. The tea-infused chocolate ganache was smooth and rich, whilst the earl grey flavour gave the chocolate mud cake a sophisticated flavour. The Rabbit Hole’s signature Grey Rabbit tea used in this dessert has the essence of the bergamot and the citrusy note adds that extra fragrant touch to the chocolate cake.
For those who appreciate tea, or just beautifully conceived cafes, you ought to give falling down the rabbit hole a chance. The menu is seasonal so one can look forward to the summery phase of this inventive and exceptionally polished tea bar.
There is also a retail section where you can buy specially created tea blends by The Rabbit Hole tea to take home and a host of tea-related gadgets.
What’s not to love about a creative, feel-good space where tea drinkers are prioritised in a city where coffee dominates? This might be the beginning of the end of cafes charging $5 for hot water and a teabag. I’ve well and truly fallen down the rabbit hole, and could happily sit here all afternoon. It’s a refreshing new addition to the Sydney scene.
The Rabbit Hole
146 Abercrombie Street, Redfern, Sydney
Phone: (02) 9310 2207
Web: The Rabbit Hole
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of The Rabbit Hole