Tea Journal, Chatswood

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Seven months and going strong, Tea Journal is a hidden gem where you can slow down and drink some tea. This was more of a surprise find by us; we first passed by the shop while searching desperately for the doctor’s office during one of my sick days. Curiosity got the better of us and we decided to visit after my doctor’s appointment. Our experience drinking their Gong Ting Pu’er tea was so good we decided to attend one of the free tea appreciation classes.

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We were back on Wednesday for the class and what we discovered was a whole new side to tea. The class took place around the central ceremonial tea table and was hosted by Sunny. Together, the ten of us sat down around an elaborate assembly of tea equipment to practise the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony. This term stems from the discipline, technique and equipment of the ceremony that has not changed in over 2000 years, not to be confused with the martial art! The lights were dimmed and we found ourselves in a surprisingly intimate setting with our host, ready to enjoy the teas. As Sunny expertly prepared our first serving of raw pu’er tea, he said “An instrumental part of the tea ceremony is to meditate over the tea”, a concept new to us.

Raw pu’er tea was the first tea to ever be traded around the world. It’s one of the least processed teas of the Yunnan region in China, also home to Sunny’s family plantations. We were each poured out a tasting of the raw pu’er to try and meditate over. This tasting was done in silence as we let the flavours dance around in our mouths.

Next came the Gong Ting pu’er tea, the very same we tried on our first visit. Being a fermented tea, the resulting brew was lot darker than the raw pu’er. Despite this, the consensus around the table was that we enjoyed the earthy flavour of this tea better than the first, though it must be noted that both teas were thoroughly enjoyable. (Disclaimer: This tea is my personal favourite of the shop and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting just to try something new.)

We were given a vote to decide the third tea so we settled on the Silver Needle tea. The raw pu’er was so well-received that we were keen to try an even purer tea. Silver needle is the least processed of all teas; only going through a firing process in a wok for a few seconds before being packaged. This one was a real surprise, with most of us picking up flavours of… popcorn! Overall, a very clean tea and a delight to the senses.

An additional herbal tea was brought out for us to taste. This rose and orange peel tea named Citrus Blast was not my favourite. It was a bit of a shock to the palate after the pure teas but interesting nonetheless. With this tea, our class was brought to a close at 7:45pm with bellies full of tea! Many of us were experiencing the effects of being “tea-drunk” and feeling giddy at the time.

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Our host, Sunny

The host, Sunny, and the owner, his mother, are very knowledgeable and obviously passionate about their craft. As a result, they have created a very welcoming environment, where de-stressing is the number one priority. This class was a real chance for us to take a break from the rush of normal life and get back to basics. We were all invited to attend another free tea appreciation class. After my very positive experience, I’m seriously considering taking him up on his offer. No doubt this will be a regular spot for us.

This experience was free of charge. The classes are run every Wednesday at 6pm.

UPDATE:

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Our third visit

We visited the Tea Journal for a third time to wash down our lunch at Marukame Udon & Tempura. This time we tried the Dragon Pearl tea and the Lemon & Mint white tea. To accompany our teas we ordered the rose and black tea cake, baked on site by staff.

The Dragon Pearls are tea leaves pressed into balls to preserve the jasmine aroma that is steamed into the leaves. This gave the tea a very floral and almost sweet flavour. It’s an easy drinking tea and paired really well with the cake. A must for a relaxing afternoon treat.

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Dragon Pearl tea

The Lemon & Mint white tea was  a sensory delight; the lemon aroma dominated our senses followed by a refreshing mint aftertaste. The tea was very refreshing at the start but grew bitter as the mint steeped further.

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Rose and black tea cake

Their cakes are definitely a must to try at Tea Journal. They’re the fluffiest pillows of sweet sponge cake I have ever tasted. Topped with smooth cream, they complement most, if not every tea on the menu. The rose and black tea cake was highly recommended by the staff and we were not disappointed. The black tea matches the rose perfectly and the tiny tea leaves adds another layer of texture to the cake. My girlfriend, who’s not usually a fan of anything rose-flavoured, loved it!

This treat cost $28 for the both of us incl. cake. Tea Journal accepts cash or card.

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