PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Thea Tea Shop is a unique find. You may come for the tidy range of rice, noodle, soup, stir-fries and vegetarian fare; however, each experience will lead you into the wonderful world of traditional tea practises – Taiwanese style. Whatever road takes you here you cannot help but leave feeling a little more at peace with the world. It sits sophisticatedly a couple of blocks away from Rundle Mall and its polarity of franchised chain coffee houses. A refined space, it is elegantly set with dark timber, glass-topped tables. City workers wise to the benefits of lemon green tea meet here, huddles of gossip girls giggle over passion snow bubble tea, and mums with bubs may seek time out with some comforting lavender milk tea. All are made to feel at home by the shop's owners; the Chen family. Daughter Kathy is testimony to their healthy vegetarian diet – she literally bounces around, happy to educate in all things tea. Her father, however, is the master.
Venture downstairs and into his inner sanctum. You will find him here each weekday, demonstrating the art of tea (free!) to keen customers. It's touching to see this passion at work, and he has passed on his tea-making wisdom to son Bryan who is also the resident cook. Although the menu is limited, each dish holds appeal. The Chen's sense of humour shows in a dish called "sweet and sour thing". It turns out to be a seriously good combination of seaweed and bean curd in a deep-fried wrap. Equally as tasty is the black pepper mushroom and vegetables with rice. Leave room for steamed bun treats filled with the likes of red bean paste, pandan lotus, yam or peanuts.