MELBOURNE | Oxi Tea Room is a place that I’ve walked past-ish countless times since it opened during lockdown, but I never knew it was there until a few weeks ago, when I visited for What’s On Melbourne and unexpectedly found myself not just taking photos, but enjoying a full high tea experience thanks to owners Mehboob and Andy.
Located at the end of a laneway off Swanston Street, Oxi Tea Room is hidden from the main street. If you don’t know it’s there, you’re not going to stumble across it by chance. Mehboob hails from Kenya, and Andy from Taiwan. Oxi Tea Room is the duo’s first foray into hospitality, fuelled by their love of the industry, and their shared passion for quality tea.
It’s an experimental space, changing an adapting as Mehboob and Andy learn and grow with the venue. The theme of the small, 16 seat space, changes, along with the menu, each season. When I visited, the theme was ‘Greenhouse’, inspired by spring, nature, and rejuvenation.
On the tea menu, you’ll find an assortment of around 30 premium whole-leaf teas, with a focus on oolong & black teas from Kenya and Taiwan. Staff are happy to provide a rundown of the teas on offer, and you can have a smell and learn more about those teas which pique your curiosity before committing.
Teas are brewed either on a state of the art Teapresso machine, or in the traditional Chinese hand brew style. You’re given the opportunity to taste how the flavour profile of each tea changes across multiple steeps and pours. It’s a great experience.
To eat, there’s a small selection of sweet and savoury seasonal bites, or a high tea offering. The high tea is impressive, and sees head pastry chef Johnny Ping creating an assortment of bites that align with the season’s theme. They’re beautiful crafted and playfully challenge you. An online ‘game’ gives you the option of making your way through the menu with a story behind each dish, and a shot at guessing what the flavours might be before you try.
A pink tulip, that I assumed was a sweet, floral dessert, was instead a pungent fish cake with caviar, pickled radish, and filo pastry. The magic mushroom, a bold umami hit of soy sauce meringue, mushroom soup foam, and mushroom chips. The less mind-bending creations are equally delicious. For example, a floral sencha mochi filled with an oozy three peach (white, yellow, and blood) compote.
High tea at Oxi Tea Room is an experience that I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s playful, informative, and delicious. If there are any teas you want for home, you can take home small packets with enough tea for three to five cups.
Oxi Tea Room
5 Cornell Place
Fri – Mon: 11:00am to 6:00pm