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I first came across Sugar N’ Spice in 2010 when I moved to Brisbane and spent an afternoon scouting for tearooms. I wasn’t disappointed. Mark, the proprietor is passionate about tea, coffee, chocolate, places great importance on great products, and excellent customer service, which is something that has been lost for many years in the UK and what I have been experiencing in Australia, too.

It doesn’t matter whether you are buying a tea, hot chocolate or coffee on the go, or whether you prefer to sit inside the café, Mark and his TEAm go out of their way to service you with a smile. I was very impressed that many of the customers were greeted by their name.  Now THAT’s customer service.

Let’s get back to the tea though.  For me, the tea that is available, the way it is presented to you and how it’s been presented to you is really important.  It all starts with the tea menu.

The Menu

The tea menu at Sugar N’ Spice is so big, I couldn’t get a flattering picture of it for you tea lovers, but the menu is great for novice drinkers to seasoned sippers.  The regular English Breakfast and Earl Greys are there.  What is popular in Australia is Stockholm Blend (a blend of black tea, citrus peel, and a varieTEA of flowers and fruits) and French Earl Grey (depending on the brand, this is a standard Earl Grey with the addition or rose petals or different flowers).  These are on the menu as well as the regular herbals such as peppermint and camomile.  For the seasoned sipper one can choose from several oolongs such as Jasmine Mao Jian, Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Compassion), Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe), and a 5-year-old ripened Pu’erh.  All the teas are available in the loose leaf form.

The Presentation

I’ll let the photograph speak for itself shall I?

Sugar N’ Spice: Tea Presentation – Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Compassion) Oolong (photo by May King Tsang, all rights reserved)

Sugar N’ Spice: Tea Presentation – Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Compassion) Oolong (photo by May King Tsang, all rights reserved)

Sugar N’ Spice is consistent with their presentation.  They present you with a great teapot that pours without spilling (how cool izzat??!?!?), a tea infuser and drip catcher with a spoon of course.  They always ask if I would like milk if I choose a black tea.  We are fortunate enough that the staff knows which teas to ask about milk and which ones don’t require that question to be asked.

As well as the range of loose leaf teas and coffee beans that are available to buy in store, they also have a range of tea ware. My particular favourites are the bone China English teaware, that wouldn’t look out of place in Harrods; the traditional Yixing teapots that wouldn’t look out of a place in a Chinese tearoom plus these cheeky critters:

Sugar N’ Spice: Cheeky and Colourful Teapots (photo by May King Tsang, all rights reserved)

Sugar N’ Spice: Cheeky and Colourful Teapots (photo by May King Tsang, all rights reserved)

The Tea

The qualiTEA is consistent.  The tea is well presented and always has a lovely aroma.  There is nothing more pleasurable than placing your hands around your cup, bringing it to your lips and taking in a deep breath and allow the aroma to fill your nostrils before sipping the tea.  I enjoy the music that quietly plays in the background: a mixture of music that can be enjoyed by all ages but I am partial to the British and American music that reverberates in the café from time to time.  I have enjoyed many teas here and have introduced many a Twitter friend or business colleague to this place.  To help me with my mission to have a better cup of tea in everybody’s cupboard, this is a great place to start in Brisbane.

See more of May King Tsang’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My mission is to ensure that everybody has a better cup of tea in their cupboard, and what better way to raise awareness about good tea than through tea and art? I was invited by the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) to take part in an exhibition commissioned by world renowned artist, Cai Guo-Qiang.

Cai was born in the Fujian province of China which is home to some of the most respected tea in the world. Cai is best known for using gunpowder as his medium for his art, and was Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Yep: the fabulous fireworks at the Olympics were his work! Inspired by a visit to Queensland, Cai created an exhibition to encourage us to reconnect with nature. The final part of the Falling Back to Earth exhibition involved a Tea Pavilion: a space created for art lovers to sit with family and friends to reflect on the exhibition they have just witnessed and what better way to reflect in amongst the Eucalyptus tree (the third part of the exhibition), than with a sip of tea.

The tea Cai wanted to have served in his Tea Pavilion was Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Compassion). It is an oolong tea which I love because it is the embodiment of Yin Yang. Whilst it looks delicate, it tastes quite robust in flavour, and I was ever so pleased when Cai suggested this tea to be served because I felt that with most folk who have been brought up on milk and two sugars tea, that this would be a great tea to introduce them to, to help them explore other teas in the future.

From Left: Cai’s Interpreter, Cai Quo-Qiang, May King Tsang and Russell Storer, curator of QAGOMA, speaking at the Opening Weekend of Falling Back to Earth (Photographer: Brodie Standen, Image Courtesy: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art)

From Left: Cai’s Interpreter, Cai Quo-Qiang, May King Tsang and Russell Storer, curator of QAGOMA, speaking at the Opening Weekend of Falling Back to Earth (Photographer: Brodie Standen, Image Courtesy: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art)

Cai wanted someone to perform Chinese Gong Fu Tea Ceremony, and that was when QAGOMA found me via Google. The Gong Fu tea ceremony I perform is my own interpretation. Whereas most Tea Masters in China conduct the ceremony in silence, I prefer to explain each and every step that I take in order to help Westerners understand why we do what we do during the ceremony. As a BBC (British Born Chinese), I feel I am qualified to be able to bridge the gap between the two cultures.

Cold Brew Tie Guan Yin (Photographer: Brodie Standen, Image Courtesy: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art)

Cold Brew Tie Guan Yin (Photographer: Brodie Standen, Image Courtesy: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art)

As a Brit and being Chinese I am used to sipping hot beverages in order to cool me down; however, being mindful of the sunny climes of Queensland, I suggested to QAGOMA that we also provide cold brewed tea (sometimes referred to as cold pressed or cold fusion tea).  The tea was available throughout the day for art lovers to experience and during my Gong Fu Tea Ceremonies, I explained the steps to “mayking” homemade cold brew as a cheaper and healthier alternative to buying ready-made sugar loaded iced tea.

A press release was issued after the exhibition had closed to say that more than 200,000 people had seen Falling Back to Earth and up to 70,000 cups of cold pressed Tie Guan Yin tea was served and with my Gong Fu Ceremonies every Sunday for a couple of hours, I guesTEAmate that around 3500 cups of Tie Guan Tin Oolong was served.  My mission to have a better cup of tea in everybody’s cupboard started in 2009 and continues to this day.  Being part of a live art exhibition helped me to get closer to achieving my mission and together with the English Tea Store, we will get there: cup by cup.

See more of May King Tsang’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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