Unlike our English Breakfast sipping cousins back in mother Britain, Australia’s decidedly well-established love affair with the coffee bean has a strong-hold on our cafe culture. I never realised how big of a thing coffee is in Australia until I tried to order a flat white the first time I went to Europe (the waiter didn’t understand, the flat white apparently is not a thing). Tea on the other hand, while currently underrepresented by boutique producers in Australia, is gaining moment as this year’s hot new trend. We spoke to Amber about her company T Totaler, tea and her plans for a new tea house in Newtown.
Enter Amber Hudson, spurred by her love for travel, tisane and experimental blending, she and her partner Paul founded T totaler, an artisan tea company with a local market presence and tiny pop-up store in Newtown. The T Totaler shop is inspired by a distinctly unique pharmaceutical/botanical theme, the simplistic charm highlights that it’s no stereotypical girly tea salon – you won’t find them serving the sort of aspirational-bourgeoise ‘high tea’ that became popular in the last decade. The apothecary bottles are multifunctional as well – the amber jars stop light from deteriorating the leaf and can be refilled or reused as a vase or pot plant.
The space is currently awaiting council approval to become a tea house, which will be a hub of activity serving freshly brewed blends, food, and holding events such as hands-on blending workshops. We’re really excited for the tea and food matches, Amber tells us dark chocolate pairs well with the floral French Earl Grey while cold drip chai matches perfectly with salted caramel popcorn. Her experimentation with kelp and roasted green tea has led to a balmy tea blend being developed for the award winning restaurant Momofuku, and collaboration with local microbrewers Batch Brewing Company in Marrickville resulted in a unique chai wheat beer.
At the moment though, the T totaler shop is just a little retail space. All ingredients are locally sourced and there are over 30 different tea blends on offer, as well as individual leaves and herbs for custom blends. Amber’s favourite from their range is ‘Unwind’, which is a relaxing blend of organic lavender, lemongrass, lemon myrtle, passionflower and peppermint. The main focus for now is on the experience, and having a chat her customers in an intimate setting. But we can’t wait to see what the future holds.