Sydney’s best tea rooms: where to have a cup of tea
Prefer a steaming hot cup of tea over a coffee? We’ve sourced the best cafes for you to bliss over a cuppa.
Australia is a nation of coffee drinkers… ra-ra-ra. I know! But for those of us who prefer tea (we do exist!) we like one that isn’t a simple equation of tea bag and hot water.
I’ll be the first to admit that my heart does a little skip when I see a tea menu that reads longer than the number of fingers on my hand. Likewise, it plummets when it sees the word "tea" or a "selection of teas" knowing that what they mean is, "Hey, no one really orders tea, so whatever we have left in stock, that’s what we’re offering." Those guys are the worst. These guys, however, are the best.
We've compiled together the top notch tea rooms, tea houses and cafes with a stella collection of loose leaf tisanes and pages upon pages dedicated to specialty teas. Your heart do that skip thing, too?
And yes, if you’re bringing along a coffee drinking fiend of a friend, there are some stellar javas available for them, too.
Feature image: T2
Where to drink tea in the CBD
Okay, so this one falls into the high tea category of drinking tea, but we've deemed it fit to be included in this list.
When afternoon tea comes with delicate sandwiches, freshly baked scones, sweet macaroons and savoury tarts – not to mention of glass of Laurent-Perrier – it definitely passes our test. Actually, it smashes it out of the ballpark.
This is luxury tea drinking at it's finest.
Address: 89-113 Kent St, Sydney
Phone number: 9256 2222
When a place has three pages dedicated to teas and has the scope to separate them into "tea selections", "herbal infusions" and "tea for connoisseurs" you know they mean business.
Your standard English, Irish and Earls are here, but move further down the menu and you’ll find wild cherries, yin longs, superior gyokuro, and jasmine pearl specialties from rare tea gardens in China to delight. There’s a reason why we named this one of the best High Tea destinations in Sydney.
Address: Level 3, North End, QVB, 455 George St, Sydney
Phone number: (02) 9283 7279
You know the name and while the tea-drinking part of T2 stores is usually reserved for one-sip samples and home brewing, Sydney is home to two T2 brew bars (try saying that three times fast) where you can choose from the collection of over 200 teas and drink at the bar. Tea lattes, ice teas, matchas, you name it.
Morning pick me up, afternoon tea, or late afternoon slowdown? Whatever the question, there’s a tea that will answer.
Queen Victoria Building Address: Lower Ground, QVB, 455 George St | Phone Number (02) 9283 3926
Westfield Address: Shop 15G, 450 George St | Phone number: 02 9230 0022
Client meeting on the organisation boards? Somewhere open, perhaps where the service is impeccable and the hot beverage menu caters for all? That’s where Mosaic comes in.
Housed inside the Old Post Office at Martin Place, it’s a light, airy affair with teas and coffees to chat about and lunches and brunch offerings for if the meeting runs long.
Address: 1 Martin Place, Martin Place, Sydney
Phone number: (02) 8223 1111
This one set tea lovers' hearts aflutter when it first opened in Redfern offering a brewful of tea delights for aficionados. It's since grown to include a venture in Barangaroo and we're hoping will take over the world soon.
Choose your tea by taste (pure, fruity, spicy, floral, zesty, creamy) or type (white, oolong, herbal, green, black, caffeine-free) and if you fall in love, don't forget to share the love by purchasing a pack of tea to gift a fellow tea drinker. Or take home for yourself.
The Rabbit Hole also hosts events throughout the year. These have included private shopping events, matcha classes and bespoke tea classes which is a novel idea for special occasions like a hen's party.
Redfern address: 146 Abercrombie Street Redfern | Phone number: (02) 9310 2207
Barangaroo address: Shop 1, 23 Barangaroo Ave | Phone number: (02) 9045 3756
Might be generalising here, but mothers and nans love a good tea. They also love tea pots wrapped in colourful tea cosies, cosy little corners, pots of jam and homemade scones. Which means she’ll probably also love The Tea Cosy – a quiet little respite in the heart of The Rocks.
Head in for a long ladies lunch and if she falls in love with one of the knitted works or preserves she can purchase them, too.
Address: 33 George St, The Rocks
Phone number: (02) 9247 4955
Class up your date by taking her to the tea rooms at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Contrary to what some may think, you don’t have to enter the gardens to share a pot of quality traditional Chinese tea in these picturesque surrounds.
Though, if you do find her wistfully gazing at the backdrop, admission is only $6 per person…
Address: Pier St, Darling Harbour
Phone number: (02) 9240 8888
Where to drink tea in the inner city
You’ve either come here because you’re a damn serious Chinese tea drinker or are looking to convert someone to the ways of one. The prime focus is on quality teas and to help you truly understand their nature Zensation holds tea appreciation courses.
Each session looks at a different tea and matches it with a dish in zen-ful harmony.
Address: 656 Bourke St, Redfern East
Phone number: (02) 9319 2788
Don’t expect to call into Bread and Circus for a standard coffee shop meet-up, this is a canteen, not a coffee stop and should be treated like one as its menu changes daily to stay fresh and seasonal.
While you’ll never know what today’s menu will hold, you can always count on its dedicated tea page for the most incredible organic blacks, sublime oolongs, whites, and greens imaginable.
There’s also space for "almost teas", for those seeking a caffeine-free brew or something different (green Moroccan mint, anyone?).
Address: Shop 2, 21 Fountain St, Alexandria
Phone number: 0418 214 425
We know what you’re thinking: aren’t these guys more coffee than tea? Well, yes and no.
Sure, Single Origin Roasters (SOR) is renowned for its brew bar – which allows you to explore its cold drip, chemex, pour over and AeroPress of the day, but it also has quite a few teas up its sleeves, including an SOR house blended chai.
Address: 60-64 Reservoir St, Surry Hills
Phone number: (02) 9211 0665
Duke’s a man who likes things his way. He’s handpicked pretty much everything in his outfit, from the chrome designer chandelier and Yamaha upright piano, to the Numero Uno Altitude Premium coffee blend and the artisanal teas. These are supplied by TeaCraft, who are the same guys behind the teas served at Tetsuya, Miss G’s and Matt Moran.
Hey, if it’s good enough for them, it’s great news for us.
Address: 153 Avoca St, Randwick
Phone number: (02) 9398 5671
Where to drink tea everywhere else
If there’s only one thing you try at cafe bookshop, Gertrude & Alice, it’s the home-made spice chai. Buy a bag and take it home. It’s that good.
For the more rebellious, there’s more than a handful of Chamellia organic teas to keep you awake, and Gertrude & Alice even does a hot lemon, honey and ginger, perfect for keeping you warm and healthy during the winter months.
Address: 46 Hall St, Bondi Beach
Phone number: (02) 9130 5155
Four words to describe Two Chaps: best of both worlds. This Marrickville outfit is home to Sticky Chai tea and Blindman Coffee – both of which you can drink on the premises by the cup, or purchase by the bag to make at home.
Start by doing the first, end by doing the latter.
Address: 122 Chapel St, Marrickville
Phone number: (02) 9572 8858
Keep an eye on their Facebook, yo. These guys have been known to sneak a tea tasting or two into their schedules showcasing single estate teas not generally part of its standard menu.
If you’re unlucky in tea-tasting love, you can still drop in for one of the loose leaf or herbal infusion offerings.
Address: 6-8 O’Connell St, Newtown
Phone number: (02) 9519 2920
Circa may single handedly be putting Parramatta on the map with its specialty tea and coffee offerings. While it doesn't roast its own here, it does at its newly opened sister shop, Smith’s Fine Tea and Specialty Coffee (a mere walk away). It also offers its own brand of coffee alongside Single Origin and 5 Senses roasts.
For tea, there's Tea Craft and its bevy of blacks, whites, greens, and oolongs.
If you’ve arrived to a line, why not walk the couple hundred metres to Smith’s (3/70 Macquarie St) and give its little sister some love?
Address: 21 Wentworth St, Parramatta
Phone number: (02) 8896 6071
If you've got a mind for something more Aussie than the not-so-classic "Australian Breakfast", get your hands on the loose leaf tea blends created by T Totaler.Carefully crafted and Australian-focused, these guys have a brew for every occasion.
You can find these guys at their Newtown tea house (teaching you to blend new brews or hosting a tea degustation), at your local farmer's market, or on the menu at your local.
Address: 55a King St, Newtown
Looking for something a little bit different? Try joining a morning tea cruise on Sydney Harbour:
Best high tea deals in Sydney