Lemon green tea with ai-yu gelatin $7.50
Green tea ice cream with red bean icee and qq $7.50
Lemon green tea with ai-yu gelatin $6.50
I'm hopeless when it comes to ordering from a menu. It's a serious undertaking that requires assessment, adventure and a little bit of intuition.
So when I first open the menu at Ten Ren Tea in Chatswod, I'm a little taken aback. There are over 200 different drinks listed. This is going to take me a while. A long while. I'm so glad I'm one of the first to arrive at our table.
Ten Ren Tea is a tea shop at the front, a cafe at the back. We miss out on the leafy and picturesque courtyard out the back which accommodates groups of four people or less only. Instead we're upstairs, at an impressive looking dining table with a folding screen on the side.
We've already eaten dinner, otherwise I would've been tempted by the dumpling with tea flavour (ten for $8.80) or the tea-flavoured sausage (2 for $4.80). I'm also intrigued by the brick toast ($3.80), a thick doorstop of Taiwanese-style sweet bread that comes with your choice of garlic, butter, peanut butter or strawberry jam. There are a few inevitable typos too. J can't help giggling at the green flavoured sponge cake ($4.50). "What exactly does green taste like?" he asks.
In the meantime, I'm still reading through the drinks list. Lipstick black tea? Aged oolong? Sweet potato green milk tea? There's a Tibetan black tea with butter ($7.50 per bowl) or the cha for workout ($6.50/$7.50) which sounds like a curdling combination of citrus, milk and egg yolk.
Crushed ice with peanut and milk $7.50
When my order does arrive, the others laugh when I cheer out loud. It's a huge mound of compressed shaved ice that's topped with a scoop of green tea macha ice cream and ringed with chewy tapioca pearls and crunchy peanuts. It's exactly what I was hoping for. I heave a sigh of relief.
The drinks arrive soon after. The lemon green teas are sweet and refreshing, with cooling cubes of ai yu jelly, made from the gel that surrounds the seeds of a fig variety commonly found in Taiwan.
The red bean icee doesn't have a very strong flavour of red bean although it pairs well with the macha ice cream.
Japanese macha ice cream $4.80
J's macha ice cream is presented in a shallow saucer that is a tad too small. The action shot above is J rescuing the scoop mid-shot befire it topples over onto the table.
Crushed ice with rose Oriental beauty tea $7.50
The G-man's Rose Oriental beauty tea crushed ice takes the longest, arriving ten minutes after ours. A brilliant scarlet colour, the icy tower is surrounded by a huddle of sweetened cooked lotus seeds, red dates, palm seeds and jelly. It's also drenched with a thick, almost gelatinous syrup that's intensely flavoured with rosewater. I find this overly sweet for my palate, particularly as there's no cleansing reprieve anywhere on the dish, although the G-man enjoys this wholeheartedly.
I've got my own tower to keep me busy. It's a little tricky digging my way into the ice without mass carnage but it's worth the effort. I love the contrast of textures and flavours in my dessert: the super cold and rough shards of ice against the smooth creamy macha ice cream; the soft and glistening chewy tapioca pearls alongside the crunchy roasted peanut halves. It's part drink, part dessert, part meal, all in one.
The confusion about why the tapioca pearls are called QQ, is cleared up by M and L. Apparently the phonetic sound for q is similar to the word for "chew" in Taiwanese, making "chew chew" an appropriate description for the tapioca pearls.
With the mercury tipped to soar this weekend, I'm predicting there'll be queue queues for QQs. Maybe green flavoured too.
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Ten Ren (Cha for Tea) Chatswood
389 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9884 7667
Open 7 days, 9am - 11pm
Also a City branch at
Ten Ren Tea Sydney
696 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 1887
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2/06/2009 12:01:00 am