Move over bubble-tea, there’s a new tea craze in town. For a reasonably short arcade, Burwood Chinatown has more than its fair share of tea outlets – I counted five on my recent visit.
None are quite so popular as King-T, a Taiwanese brand, which boasts a steady queue. Designed by Basalt Studio, the folks responsible for regenerating the look of this whole dining precinct, King-T is an attractive little kiosk.
It’s designed to look like an old-style house with jutting roof poles; wooden slats and caged windows that highlight decorated tin tea containers.
Old-school paper signboards tell you everything you need to know in English and traditional Chinese, from the range of drinks on offer, to exactly how to operate the little red lids on your resulting beverage (they work like a cork). The outlet's most popular beverages dangle on picture boards over your head.
If you prefer the human touch, the pretty young women manning the counter are happy to advise. We’re told to try the Cheese Foam Uji Matcha ($6.80/large). It’s a milky matcha green tea topped with a floating raft of almost salty cream cheese. Even friendly people in the waiting queue let us guǐ lǎo (ghost people) know we should first try our beverages without using a straw. Mixing is a crime, so we sip it straight from the cup without blending the layers. It's ridiculously compelling, and I wonder why I haven’t had cheese foam tea sooner. For contrast we also opt for a Coconut Jelly, Passionfruit Green Tea ($6.50), which drinks like a gentle fruity cordial, with chewy cubes of coconut jelly that you do have to extract using a wide straw.
As we walk through the arcade sipping our wondrous new drinks, we hear live music echoing down the stairs.
Following our ears we stumble upon a makeshift venue in a half-finished building site where a young and surprisingly competent Chinese covers band are singing to a small crowd, reading the lyrics off their android phones.
We pull up a padded milk crate under outdoor heaters and enjoy this impromptu musical find in an unfinished concrete space overlooking the urban backyard of The Burwood Hotel. If this is a typical Friday night in Burwood, I already want to visit again!
Shop 18, Burwood Chinatown
127-133 Burwood Road, Burwood