History of Fine Chinese Tea in Sydney

History of Fine Chinese Tea in Sydney

In 1891, a Chinese immigrant named Quong Tart opens the first tea room for fine Chinese tea in all of Sydney. Located in the Elite Hall of the Queen Victoria Building, the quality of the establishment was so famed that he created an entire series of accessible tea rooms in Sydney Arcade, the Royal Arcade and King Street. A respected community leader, he went on to become one of the most well-connected members of the social and political elite and the newspapers described him ‘as well known as the Governor himself!’

Since then, tea has taken on an elevated status in Sydney. Graduating from the camp-fire ‘billy style’ tea of the penal colonies and the private tea parties held only by the elite, the art of taking tea became a mainstream affair afforded by all the classes of society, for the tea rooms provided a venue for anyone to experience the authenticity of fine Chinese tea.

The popularity of tea declined with the introduction of coffee, and the convenience of low quality teabags began to take over the shelves. But in recent years, Sydney has become a leader in the renaissance of the tea industry in Australia. The popularity of high tea and the increasing selection of fine Chinese tea in restaurants, cafes and hotels has encouraged the revival of tea as a cultural entity.

Visit us at the Sydney Tea Festival on the 16th of August and join Altitude in the appreciation of fine Chinese tea, celebrating the culture and ritual which surrounds a truly good cuppa.