If there ever was a place that epitomises the trendy, boutique transformation of East London - it would be Redchurch Street. The home of Aesop, Shoreditch House, Allpress Espresso and Aubin Cinema among others has recently been joined by another Australian import, T2 Tea. A friend (and avid tea drinker) recently suggested we take a walk in the much welcome London sunshine to see for ourselves what they have on offer.
T2 may be new to us, but in fact they are a tea store with an 18 year history! They are Australia's leading tea retailer and have 50 stores in Australia, New Zealand and the UK (with plans to open more). I'm also sure that it is only a matter of time that restaurants and cafes start sourcing their tea from T2 and promoting that they are - similar to how some coffee shops clearly state whether they offer Nude Espresso, Monmouth Coffee, Square Union or Allpress.
I was incredibly impressed with the space as it presented tea with a concept store aesthetic with wall-to-wall loose leaf tea, handpicked and carefully chosen chinaware, and a selection of useful and practical accessories. There's an incredible selection of different types of tea either as pure origin or with inventive taste twists and names such as choc chip chai or geisha getaway.
My immediate thought was that this was a modern and younger presentation of the world's favourite drink as compared to more locally established tea institutions such as Fortnum & Mason. T2's founder, Maryanne Shearer, in fact developed her retail concept particularly with this in mind - aiming to appeal to a new generation of tea-drinkers - basing the experience around what she would like shoppers to feel, see, smell and taste.
Coupling the store itself, you're greeted with typical Australian warmth as the ladies who work there are friendly, keen to educate, and encourage a taste of the teas of the day brewed to sample. I sampled white chai, which was excellent and unsurprisingly priced at £15 for 50g (worth it). The tea is premium and so accordingly commands a premium price, but there is no doubt that plenty of care is taken in sourcing and presenting the varieties on offer.
If not for your personal enjoyment, T2 tea would also certainly make a very nice gift. Hurry before this new Redchurch secret gets out!