December, 2018

September, 2018

August, 2018

  • Cracking the code on cheffy terms

    28 August, 2018 Cracking the code on cheffy terms

    Sometimes fine-dining menus can seem like more of a maze than a relaxing pre-dining experience. Here, we breakdown some of the cheffy terms you’re likely to come across and include recipes so you can test them out at home.
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  • Cooking the classics

    27 August, 2018 Cooking the classics

    We consider those classic recipes we go back to time and time again.
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  • IGNI: The first year

    06 August, 2018 IGNI: The first year

    VIDEO: Acclaimed chef Aaron Turner's stirring account of love, loss and starting again.
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May, 2018

February, 2018

  • How a chef cooks for those he loves

    13 February, 2018 How a chef cooks for those he loves

    Skipping the crowds in favour of a lovingly prepared meal at home is your best bet for a romantic Valentine’s Day. This is chef Jock Zonfrillo's idea of a nice night in.
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January, 2018

December, 2017

October, 2017

September, 2017

  • Win a pro toastie pack

    18 September, 2017 Win a pro toastie pack

    Indulge in the ultimate comfort food with this kit, including a no-mess Breville press, a copy of Darren Purchese's Chefs Eat Toasties Too and a subscription to Cooked.
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August, 2017

July, 2017

June, 2017

  • Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    08 June, 2017 Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    Gill Meller is in the country, his first time to Australia, showcasing his beautiful book Gather with a series of dinners and classes. We caught up with him to find out what's on the menu for his Aussie guests.
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April, 2017

February, 2017

January, 2017

December, 2016

October, 2016

September, 2016

August, 2016

July, 2016

June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

March, 2016

February, 2016

January, 2016

December, 2015

November, 2015

  • Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    27 November, 2015 Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    We're looking at those staple recipes that can make or break your Christmas spread. First up, the much-misunderstood sweet seductress, custard.
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  • Halfway Home

    16 November, 2015 Halfway Home

    I’ve been sugar-free for a total of two weeks, and things are going surprisingly well...
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  • Bubbles or nothing

    11 November, 2015 Bubbles or nothing

    Out to impress this party season? To take your entertaining game to the next level, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Halliday Wine Companion to share tips on matching sparkling wines to a range of show-stopping canapes.
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  • The anatomy of the perfect burger

    11 November, 2015 The anatomy of the perfect burger

    Looking for your next weekend challenge? Why not have a crack at making your own cheeseburgers from scratch? Chef Daniel Wilson shares the secret recipe to recreating his famed Huxtaburger, from bun to patty and everything in between.
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  • No Sugar November

    04 November, 2015 No Sugar November

    This month while the boys are growing staches, I’ll be growing a conscience about all the confectionary I consume.
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October, 2015

September, 2015

May, 2015

April, 2015

March, 2015

February, 2015

January, 2015

December, 2014

November, 2014

October, 2014

September, 2014

August, 2014

July, 2014

June, 2014

May, 2014

April, 2014

March, 2014

February, 2014

  • Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    27 February, 2014 Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    Jams, pickles, chutneys, sauces, compotes and conserves are the best way to preserve abundant produce so you can enjoy your fruit and veg all year round. Margaret Fulton shares her guide to the art of preserving.
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  • Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    27 February, 2014 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, running from February 28 to March 16, begins in just over a week. We’ve put together our picks of the fest.
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  • Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    24 February, 2014 Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    Master of the dough Philippa Sibley shares her step-by-step guide to making sweet shortcrust pastry, taking you through everything you need to know to perfect the art of peerless pâte.
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  • In season | Eggplant

    21 February, 2014 In season | Eggplant

    The unsung hero of the nightshade family, eggplant is found in cuisines the world over. From Sicily to South East Asia, the Middle East to the Mediterranean, many signature dishes feature the versatile aubergine. We sing the praises of the humble eggplant.
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  • Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    17 February, 2014 Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    Meat expert and chef Adrian Richardson explains the different cuts of pork, and what you should use them for.
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  • Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    14 February, 2014 Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    Skewers, kebabs, shaslicks, yakitori … Whatever you call them, meat just tastes better when cooked on a stick. We share our tips to help you ace the skewers at your next barbecue.
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  • In season | Figs

    06 February, 2014 In season | Figs

    Figs evoke the flavours of exotic decadence. Sweet and visually striking, figs make for a decadent tart topper, a sumptuous sticky jam or a delightful savoury venture with cold meats. We share some of our favourite fig recipes.
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  • Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    05 February, 2014 Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    There's nothing more thoughtful than a handmade edible gift. April Carter shares her tips and tricks for making beautiful and delicious treats for those you love.
    Read more…

January, 2014

December, 2013

November, 2013

DIY with TEA

Casey Warrener
22 October, 2015

We take a look inside Australia’s 'first concept tea store’, and delve into the complexities of this traditional drink in contemporary use.

Tea is a drink loaded with history and ritual. You can choose a cup to calm you down, to pick you up, to chat over with a mate, to dunk your bikkies, to serve with dessert, and to aid a variety of ails. You can even use a strong brew to add flavour to recipes (but we’ll get to that soon). And now, with the launch of Royal Elixir in Melbourne’s Prahran, that list is longer still.

The first ‘concept tea store’ in Australia, this pared-back outlet specialises in Sri Lankan teas. Delivering smartly packaged leaves to Melburnians since 1994, the small team overseeing what was previously ‘Impra Tea’ in Prahran decided it was time for a fresh take. Enter the custom tea experience, where every element of the final product – from the size, grade and base, to the fruits, florals and spices – is up to you.

We wouldn’t blame you if you found the idea of DIY blends daunting. How do you know you won’t end up with a big ol’ mess in your mug?! Well never fear, because there are experts onsite to guide you. If you’re going a bit crazy with your flavours, they’ll let you know – and stop you in your tracks (unless you’re adamant you need to try the concoction you’ve dreamed up, in which case, good luck). Ask nicely, and they’ll even let you taste your creation before taking it away.

So how does it work? You start by choosing your preferred amount (small, medium, large), base (green, grey, black), and leaf size (chunky coils or gunpowder fine). You then hit the flavour station, where there are three sections to explore. Lemongrass, freeze-dried strawberries, spearmint, liquorice root, jasmine flowers, blackberry leaves and rose petals are just a few of the paths you could go down. It's important to note that these are all natural ingredients; there are no science experiments here. Leave that to the Starbucks of the world.

To give you a sense of the potential, your tea master could take a base of earl grey (a Royal Elixir speciality), add orange peel for those zesty notes, rose petals for a little oh la la, and blue cornflowers for a ladylike twist. Or perhaps you’d like your blend hotted-up, in which case cardamom, ginger root, and cinnamon will add spice to your black or green tea. These are tried and true combinations, but don’t feel you need to go with what’s known. Be bold in your selections, and at best you’ll have a tea to trademark, at worst a talking point.

If you’re more of a traditionalist, maybe you want to skip the tea blending trend altogether. In which case Royal Elixir offers a range of pre-packed leaves. This is top quality stuff, and the straight-up varieties are nothing to be sniffed at. The British brought tea to Sri Lanka in the 19th century and Ceylon is its most recognised variety. But with seven different regions producing a number of species, there’s plenty you probably haven’t tried. For specific regional styles that are harvested ‘in season’, prices will fluctuate. This is where tea shares its similarities with wine; the quality of the yield, the origin, and the tea-makers’ input all influence demand. I asked the passionate gang behind Royal Elixir about the most elusive tea in trade, and they informed me of a white variety known as ‘Golden Tips’. From the southern province of Sri Lanka, this opulent tea is produced by plucking the buds right before they open. At around $100 for 100 grams, this is not an everyday option. But you can see that the trickier the labour, the greater the cost.

Whether you prefer fragrant blends or no-nonsense quality, there are a few ‘good to knows’ about prep:

1. Black tea is to be steeped in 100°C water (generally); green in 85°C
2. Freshly boiled water, always. (Forget reheating what’s sitting in the kettle.)

You may also want to try food matching. As we’ve seen, the humble cuppa involves an array of flavours and aromas, which means finding the right balance in your accompanying snacks. That is if you’re serious about tea, and there are many people who are. Vue de Monde has a dedicated ‘tea sommelier’, and a list that includes a single cup for 1000 bucks. Yikes. Naturally, Vue also has a tea degustation. But unless your wallet is weighing you down, perhaps you want to think about creating your own.

When it comes to tea time treats, it’s not all about what works best alongside your blend either – you can whip up something with tea in the mix. Royal Elixir managed to surprise us with few beauties, including brioche cups with thyme tea-infused pulled pork, ricotta cakes with lemon balm tea-cured trout, and Lotus Divine tea brownies so velvety and delicious that we just had to share. At Cooked, we have a recipe or two of our own, which you can browse in the collection below.


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