Monday, April 26, 2010

The Tea Centre

The Tea Centre
191 Albert Lane, Albert Street, Brisbane CBD

I'm struggling a bit with this post before I've even started. One of the ongoing hardships of blogging with this website is that the spell-check works on American spelling. No, I haven't checked if there's a way to set it to Australian and frankly I don't care enough to find out. To date, I've gotten by just changing all my spelling to US standards to reduce all the little red underlines on my typing screen.

Cluey readers will 'ah' with realization as to why this is a problem right now. The shop I'm blogging about contains a word that conflicts between these 2 systems of spelling: 'centre' is the culprit. I normally go with 'center' but because the actual name of the store is at stake, I'm choosing to go with the Australian spelling, at the expense of flooding my view with red lines. ARGH RED LINES.

Now that I've done my raging for the day, let's continue. This post is actually going to be peaceful and therapeutic. Why? It's about tea. And it's about a new discovery that quickly jumped to my list of favorite hidey-holes in the city. The Tea Centre is not discreet, undiscovered or hidden. Far from it. In fact, my one criticism for the shop is that it's too damn popular! I've been lucky enough to get a table every time I've been but man, it's been a close call. Though I've never felt pressured to leave by staff, you can't fully sit back and relax when you see people outside peering longingly at your seat.

I knew about the existence of The Tea Centre for a while because of the times I've dined at Vapiano's. Katie told me that they have banana bread. Honestly, MOST cafes offer banana bread but I just love that stuff so much I want to try it everywhere.

It was a banana bread craving that brought me to The Tea Centre for my first visit. Funnily enough, I got so distracted by the dessert cabinet that I ordered their Tea Centre green tea cake instead. After I finished, I realized that regardless of how the cake tasted, it did nothing to dispel my banana bread cravings so I ordered a slice of that too. I was actually too embarrassed to ask my original waitress in case she thought I was a pig so I timed my hailing in order to get a different waiter. Not that it matters because I'm sure they're all capable of communication and have far more interesting things to communicate than my not-entirely-unusual eating habits.

The Tea Centre green tea cake

The green tea cake was delicate and light. It wasn't very sweet and had a very subtle green tea flavor. Perhaps too subtle?

Inside of cake

To me, the cake was mostly cream, sponge and a bit of chocolate. It looked gorgeous and tasted decent but wasn't exceptional.

Toasted banana bread with butter

My banana bread on the other hand really hit the spot. Granted that could be because I really NEEDED banana bread right then and there. It was a thin slice, moist and sweet, served with a bit of butter.

Close-up of banana bread

Considering size, it was a bit dearer than other cafes. Taste-wise, this is a banana bread on par with most but nothing beyond.

Pacific sun iced tea

Since I was at a tea place, I had to pick something with tea. It was a hot day and I chose one of the iced teas they had on offer: Pacific Sun. The tea is normally served sweetened but I asked for all sweeteners to be omitted so I had the iced tea pure. It was deeply infused and very fruity and fragrant. I actually didn't mind it at all without sugar and thought it was exceptionally refreshing. This iced tea is a lovely, healthy alternative to smoothies or milkshakes.

After my first visit, I went to The Tea Centre another 2 times to experience a nice range of menu item that I could blog.

Small pot of Gingerbread flavored black tea

I was waiting for my friend Josh one time and used that opportunity to order an actual hot tea. They come in either large or small pots and I chose a small pot. It comes in a colourful teapot with a strainer, plus a cup and a small vial of milk. I was informed that I should feel free to ask for more milk as required and also advised to let the tea infuse on my table for another 5min or so before drinking.

Addition of milk to tea

On this occasion, I chose 'Gingerbread' which is a flavored black tea. Despite the elaborate description, I thought it tasted like vanilla with a hint of spice. It also tasted sweet without actually BEING sweet (if you can understand that). All in all, not a bad tea.

Toasted panini with chicken, rocket, brie and semi-dried tomatoes

On my next visit, I swung things around a bit and ordered a savory item. There is a small selection of wraps and toasted paninis on offer at The Tea Centre, should you wish for something for filling to accompany your tea. I went with a toasted chicken panini with rocket and semi-dried tomatoes. It was exactly what I expected: nicely toasted with fresh ingredients. These are the kinds of paninis that never fail to taste good simply because of the combination of ingredients. Again, a bit more expensive than other cafes.

Scone with jam and cream

I had been put off purchasing a scone at previous occasions because they're quite pricey but I got lured in when I saw a woman a the table next to mine enjoying one. The scone just looked SOOOO delicious. I had to try.

Close-up of scone

It was totally worth it. The scones are different to the usual manufactured cafe ones. They're large, rustic and have a glorious texture that's a perfect compromise of soft, slightly sticky and slightly crumbly. It was just heaven with cream and jam (though I would've liked a more homemade jam).

Like I said earlier, and as proven by my multiple visits (within the space of 3 consecutive days), I have totally fallen in love with The Tea Centre. It's small and cramped and you can't help but feel a bit nervous about finding a seat (I wouldn't try it at peak hours) but it's centrally located and offers something that isn't common in Brisbane CBD. There are a huge range of teas to choose from but as a non-tea-fanatic, the other offerings are just as promising. Service has been exceptional on all visits; staff are friendly and warm and your order arrives quickly. Overall, just a nice place to unwind, read the paper, or have a chat with a friend.

Tea Centre on Urbanspoon

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