Thursday, November 7, 2013

Theic Tea Bar in Collingwood

Specialty Tea + Vegan Treats at Theic 

Disclaimer: Since visiting Theic, I have taken on Somage Fine Foods as a client. I paid for my meal. The opinions reported below are based solely on my thoughts at the time of my visit.

Address: 77 Cromwell Street, Collingwood, Vic

Phone: 0433 214 938

Open: Weekends, 10am until 4pm
Cuppings Wednesday to Thursday, 6pm until 8pm
Wednesday to Friday, trade by appointment only

Theic is a much kinder word than alcoholic, although they essentially mean the same thing. The only difference is the former refers to an addiction to tea, the latter an addiction to booze. Given this information, it’s fair to say I should be a member of TA (Theics Anonymous). The word ‘Theic’ was introduced into my vocabulary following the opening of Theic Tea Bar, hidden away in INSITU Furniture in the back streets of Collingwood. 

Nathan Wakeford is the tisane-obsessed man behind the specialty café. You may remember him from such brands as Somage Fine Foods, specifically the Chamellia tea range. Nathan is the real deal. He doesn’t do things by halves, as evident from his strict vegan diet and weekly two hour drives up to Donna Buang where he collects the purest spring water for his perfectionist brews. 

This is the kind of place you can sit for hours, chatting to the knowledgeable and friendly staff without feeling rushed. You sigh deeply to yourself, without realising. I imagine a cigarette has a similar effect on a smoker. The only stressor here is choosing a cuppa from the tea bible before you. Green, white, black, oolong, blooming, fruit, iced – it’s no easy feat. Thankfully you can tell your waiter what you like or what you fancy and they’ll do all the hard work for you.

I visited with Daisy from Never Too Sweet. She ordered the green tea latte with soy milk, commenting – as her blog name would suggest – that it wasn’t too sweet. This allowed the matcha flavour to shine, while the hints of saccharine were attributed to panela sugar, carrying caramel undertones. 

After much debate, I opted for the persimmon leaf tisane from Korea. Despite its light, fruity aroma, there was a deeper essence to this tea that reminded me of a baked winter dessert. It’s worth noting that the $8.50 price tag won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a sucker for the finer things in life, it’s a small price to pay. You’ll also score a couple of infusions, which means you’re really only paying $4.25 for the privilege anyway. 

We were also treated to a sample of the chai latte; the waitress had made some for herself and decided to share the love. One sip revealed the disparity between your average café chai and this one, infused with cinnamon, clove and cardamom. 

Food here is 100 per cent vegan and comes curtsey of Chinita Desserts, Loafer Bakery, Proud Mary and Botanical Cuisine. The Loafer toast crisps on the sharing plate would have seriously upset anyone with expensive dentures, but the vegan dips – creamy dill ‘cheese’, vibrant carrot and fennel pate, and an earthy mushroom and truffle pate – were divine. 

Our ordering knows no boundaries, which is why we split a serving of granola once we’d licked the dip dishes clean. It arrived divided into two glasses without us having to ask. Hits of honey somersaulted with the crunch of roasted almonds and sugary bursts from dried fruit, all fused together with the nutty sweetness of soy milk. 

Of course we ordered dessert. At Theic, desserts are raw, vegan and just about as ethical as food comes. I couldn’t go past the Snickers Ball: a health nut, gym junkie vitality ball rolled with caocao (not cocoa), peanuts, coconut and dates. 

The only coffee you’ll find at Theic comes in the form of a mocha fudge brownie bite, made using Proud Mary beans. I actually preferred the coconut-laced treat to the popular Snickers Ball, with its lovely pliable texture that took a perfect mould of our teeth, in start contrast to the share plate toast. The coconut chai porridge also caught our eye, but we’ll have to save it until next time. 

Theic isn’t the kind of place you go to stuff yourself stupid. Visit if you’re craving a meditative atmosphere, a refined beverage crafted with the utmost care and dessert that’s entirely guilt-free. Besides, specialty coffee is SO 2012. 

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