The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar

Louise Rugendyke
Tea-infused shortbread at Rabbit Hole.
Tea-infused shortbread at Rabbit Hole. Photo: Edwina Pickles

146 Abercrombie Street Redfern, New South Wales 2016

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02 9310 2207
Opening hours Tues to Sun, 9am to 4pm,Thurs 9am, to 6pm,Closed Mon
Features Vegetarian friendly
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)

"The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well."

Alice in Wonderland

For years I have lived with the burden of being a non-coffee drinker in this coffee-obsessed town, surviving on weak tea delivered in leaky pots with the bag still in. For that I'd be charged $4 to pay for the barista's attitude.

Tea time: the Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar.
Tea time: the Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar. Photo: James Alcock

Like Alice, I often wondered what rabbit hole I had fallen down, where leaf tea was as rare as a talking ginger cat wedged in a tree.  

On this rainy Saturday, salvation is at hand. We are at the Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar, where the black-and-white tiles echo those in Alice's trip through Wonderland and a sculpture made from tea bags by Chilean artist Valeria Burgoa​ floats like a giant cloud in the middle of the room.

The menu skips across brunch and lunch, with most dishes featuring some kind of tea element, such as the matcha granola brunch bowl with fruit ($13) or the tea marbled egg with kimchi, kale and black sesame ($13). There's even topped toast starring lapsang souchong and bacon jam ($13). Curiouser and curiouser.   

Camomile sponge cake with macha latte.
Camomile sponge cake with macha latte. Photo: Christopher Pearce

We order tea for two and get chicken and beef: green tea soba noodles for me, with ginger sesame chicken and pickled carrot ($16), while husband picks the slow-cooked beef in black tea with pickles and cheddar on toasted white sourdough ($14).

The food comes with matching tea suggestions, which is a perfect nudge further down the rabbit hole.

My salad is paired with lime pie ($5), a "white tea extravaganza" that comes with lime and freshly shaved coconut, while husband's sandwich is matched with the caffeine-free red delicious, which promises "antioxidant-laden honeybush" with crisp red apple and goji berry.

It's the type of fruity nonsense I usually turn my nose up at, but once the tea is delivered with instructions of when to pour and when to turn the mini egg timer, I'm in.

The lime pie is delicious; refreshing and light with coconut holding its own against the strong lime flavour. Husband's red delicious tea gets the thumbs up too.

Down the rabbit hole we slip.

The noodles come piled beautifully on a lavender plate with daikon​ cut into perfect cherry blossom shapes. It's not a huge serving but like everything here it whispers Japanese cool, right down to the portion size.

Husband is delighted with his sandwich, the beef is fall-apart tender and the light tea flavour contrasts beautifully with the strong bite of the cheddar and pickle.

It wouldn't be a tea party if there was no cake. The camomile and jam sponge ($8) has my name on it, while husband plumps for the matcha whoopee pie ($5) with green cream oozing out.

We're running late but there's time for two more drinks: matcha latte premium stoneground green tea ($5.50) and the rabbit hole dirty chai latte which comes with a shot of espresso ($6.50).

Both come served in white cups with a rabbit tail as the handle. My matcha latte is strangely delicious but the mash-up dirty chai latte doesn't do justice to both of its flavours.

Never mind, like Alice we will be back down this Rabbit Hole.   

THE PICKS

The salads, the slow-cooked beef in black tea sandwich; anything from the cake cabinet.

THE TEA

As well as the fruity varieties, there's a solid list of classics such as English breakfast, Earl Grey and jasmine.  

THE LOOK

Perfect blend of Scandi and Japanese cool, right down to the brass rabbit head door handle on the toilet door. 

THE SERVICE

Friendly and efficient.