Travelling Samovar Tea House
412 Rathdowne Street Carlton North
I had no idea where Hubbie was taking me for the final part of our birthday experience. We had already had a very forgettable lunch at the Farm Café, followed by a quick tour through the Collingwood Children’s Farm… he had hinted at some ‘drinks’ that we might have, and all I could think of was boutique coffees and elaborate cocktails.
But no. He had taken me to my very first love.
Tea. At The Travelling Samovar Tea House in Carlton North.
I was amazed when first entering the small store. The front room was highly decorated with beautiful ornaments, tea accessories, and of course teas that you could take home with you, alongside tables that you could sit and discover the many varieties of their tea.
The room we sat at was the second one in, and again, was just so full of character and interesting finds that it was hard to rest my eyes on any one piece.
From intricate tapestries and pieces of art draped on walls and set up against cupboards and dressers that you would find in an eclectic shop at a getaway retreat, as well as cute little bowls and candles, vases and decorative pieces, alongside a warm fireplace and stunning chandelier, there was so much to see and yet it all had a purpose, there was a reason for its being.
After going through the huge menu of tea selections, browsing through teas from pretty much every part of the world, from black teas to herbals, oolongs to greens, and so many more, I decided on an Indian chai, because I’d recently gotten right into the spicy earthy flavours of the drink, while Hubbie went basic and got a chamomile.
Baby girl even got involved and we got her a tea from the children’s menu, which was a Turkish Apple tea.
I loved the presentation. We had entered some kind of portal into this magical mysterious tea universe where the ‘real stuff’ was on offer, and now even the act of observing, and preparing, and drinking the tea was an adventure in itself.
With my chai I had the option of adding more sugar if required, however it had almost the perfect amount of sweetness as it was, and was so deliciously spicy and comforting. I loved it.
We both also loved the little hourglasses that came with Hubbie’s chamomile. Mine had been prepared already, but his chamomile needed steeping, so it was great to have such control over it and decide for ourselves how strong it was to be! It was perhaps a bit on the gimmicky side, but still, I loved it.
Baby girl still hasn’t gotten into the tea thing yet. But she tried a bit of her Turkish Apple nonetheless. And instead, devoured some of the biscuits we had gotten on the side, as well as nibbling into our cake.
We felt a bit bad that she got to taste it. How could we deny her when she was pointing and grunting for us to give her some? It was a white chocolate, walnut and vodka cake, and yes, you could still kind of taste the vodka. Whoops. But having said that, it was baked, and so most of the alcohol would have cooked itself out. Anyway she had mostly the crust, the heavily baked part. It was deliciously warm, sweet and very comforting alongside the tea.
The service was welcoming and genuine, especially for us Samovar newbies, and was especially gracious when Hubbie told the woman (who we assumed was the boss/owner) after we paid that he had been recommended the Tea House by a work colleague.
There is space in the first two rooms to sit as well as an outdoor area which I didn’t see but was told that it was an especially special and serene place to sip at your tea, especially on a sunny day.
It’s the kind of place you can easily miss while walking by, and it has the real sense of a special find or a hidden secret, although it shouldn’t be. Everyone should be privy to this secret world of proper tea, something that is definitely missing in our generation.
Yes, it’s all about the coffee movement at the moment. Even I’ve been swept up in the force of coffee for the past 3 years or so, and I don’t think I’ll allow it to unclench its grip on me anytime soon.
The ‘Samovar’ is traditionally a kind of tea urn which would be used for boiling water, which in Russian culture became a symbol of coming together in the home. And that’s just what we need. This city, this world needs a good injection of good old-fashioned, properly prepared tea in a comforting experience, where you can share your happiness, your woes, your hopes, your fears, and most importantly, your dreams.
As I always say “I love coffee… but tea is the only one that can soothe my soul.”
That first hot sip, when you’re in dire need first thing in the morning… ahhh. Nothing satisfies as much as that.
I will be going back.