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Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Eat Out - BY GE­ORGE EPAMINONDAS

A TEA break holds deep res­o­nance at T2, Mel­bourne pur­vey­ors of gourmet cup­pas.

At the com­pany’s Colling­wood head­quar­ters, high-spir­ited staff mem­bers are known to fall into a reverie when se­lect­ing a mood-en­hanc­ing brew from the wall of fra­grant of­fer­ings in the kitchen. “You need to se­lect the right tea for the right time,” prod­uct man­ager Michelle Mc­goff says. “And ask your­self how it makes you feel.”

In such a cof­fee-cen­tric coun­try, per­haps no one has done as much to pop­u­larise the myr­iad forms of tea as T2. From a sin­gle shop on Brunswick St in Fitzroy, the ir­rev­er­ent brand has flow­ered to 86 Aladdin’s cave-like stores in Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the US and UK. This year also marks the com­pany’s 20th an­niver­sary.

“We have a unique ap­proach – it’s tea done dif­fer­ently,” says Deanna Moy­lan, global prod­uct di­rec­tor.

In two decades, they have sourced the finest leaves from around the globe, de­signed count­less psy­che­delic ceramics, and de­vel­oped canny brew­ing tools. Their new stain­less steel matcha flask is equipped with a whisk in the cap.

The finely ground green tea is the best seller in the UK and US, re­flect­ing the power of the well­ness move­ment, while French earl grey and Mel­bourne break­fast are the lo­cal lead­ers. The com­pany now pos­sesses a li­brary of more than 200 teas. “A lot of our cus­tomers are thirsty for knowl­edge,” Moy­lan says. Unilever ac­quired the brand in 2013 but has pre­served its quirky sen­si­bil­i­ties. The T2 of­fices re­sem­ble a tea party, culi­nary lab­o­ra­tory, and a re­li­gious shrine. Black-clad acolytes buzz around the an­i­mated ground floor, while the serene first floor is ded­i­cated to tast­ing, test­ing and cus­tomis­ing. Mc­goff, a “tea som­me­lier”, talks up the flavour pro­files of dar­jeel­ing, as­sam and lap­sang dur­ing a tea flight. “It’s like wine ap­pre­ci­a­tion,” she says.

Next year, the brand will take an even big­ger step, open­ing a flag­ship store in Sin­ga­pore. While they are sen­si­tive to the nu­ances of each mar­ket, mad-hat­ter ec­cen­tric­ity will al­ways be their lodestar. Their sin­gu­lar ap­proach to brew­ing, styling and re­tail­ing will never change they say. Not for all the tea in China.

BLENDED BEAUTY Tea blends at T2, and below, the range of iced teas.

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