When you think Black Sheep, you think coffee, right? We are a roastery after all. But did you know we also serve tea? And of course, it’s not just any tea…
“Both of us felt there was no point in having ethics in sourcing coffee when we were then going to go and buy cheap commodity tea,” says Katie. “It was equally as important that we had the same ethics in sourcing our tea.”
In the early days of the roastery, one of our staff members was a tea master. He gave us his top picks for the best people doing tea in Australia and we chose Tea and Sympathy out of Melbourne (Shannon Bennett also uses it at his award winning restaurant Vue de monde).
Tea and Sympathy is a top-end boutique. They’re an independent, specialty tea label doing limited, wild-grown, handpicked loose leaf teas from single-estates out of China, Taiwan, Northern Thailand and Northern Vietnam.
And rest assured, we put as much care into brewing this amazing tea as we do our coffee.
“We’re not a specialty tea shop, we’re a coffee roaster. We are still learning but we’re open to learning as much as we can about it to make sure we do [owner] Angelina’s product justice," says Katie.
“We treat it like the coffee. The tea leaves are all weighed out. We set brew timers and we have the water temperature set for each different tea.”
Each tea is served on a slate board with a special glass teapot. The strainer is in the stem of the pot, so the tea has room to bloom and not get over-extracted or burnt. It’s then poured into a small handmade cup.
“A few of the teas can be re-brewed for a third, or even a fourth time, depending what tea it is,” says Mark. “They actually get better on a second or third one and the flavour changes as it goes.”
We’ve got 12 teas on offer. The most popular among our customers is GABA Oolong, though Katie says the hand-rolled jasmine pearl tea is “divine.”
Mark’s favourite is the Yunnan White. “The white is just the tip of the baby leaves, just as they’re coming up on the top. They only pick a couple of leaves off a whole branch.”
While coffee is definitely our main focus, there are plans to host tea cupping sessions and tea ceremonies in the future.
Mark says there are parallels with coffee. “The growing and soil conditions, the type of plant, where it is on the side of the hill, how much sun it gets or doesn’t get. How it’s processed. And then cupping; it’s the same process for tasting wine as it is for coffee as it is for tea. And then there’s the brewing…”
So next time you stop in for a cuppa, why not try a tea? Order a pot for one, sit back and enjoy the process.