Hazel Tea Shop
Some places gain a reputation so naturally that you know you just have to try it. I had heard about this tea place on the coast that was meant to be best in Queensland. I mentioned this to Charlie and for once, he's also heard about it, from a different circle of friends. We reasoned that this must mean it's good. Fate would have it that this tea shop was right near our hotel.
It's not a tea shop as in... TEA. Like English high tea. Or Asian tea ceremony type of tea. It's BUBBLE TEA. If you don't know what bubble tea is, stop thinking about china cups or tea pots and put your mind to plastic cups with the sealed top and fat, colourful straws. Bubble tea is an Asian craze. In summary, it's tea (usually black or red) with/without milk and with/without flavoring or toppings.
Examples include: taro milk tea, passionfruit tea, pearl milk tea and so on. Some places make ice creations as well. Toppings can include jelly, red bean, pudding and different sized pearls. There are lots of bubble tea places around; some chain stores and some independant stores.
Hazel Tea Shop was supposed to be a really GOOD bubble tea shop so we went in to try. It mostly serves bubble tea but if you're hungry, they also do thick cut flavored toast. We didn't order any of that so no comments there.
With the tea, you can choose flavor, size, topping (costs extra) but most importantly (for me, anyway), the sweetness level! I've never seen any other bubble tea place let you customize the sweetness of your tea. Sometimes, I'll ask for 'less sweet please' but that just means they put in less flavoring syrup and the whole thing tastes watered down.
Aside from this, Hazel Tea Shop also stands out in that it has more variety than I've seen anywhere else. I was pouring over the menu for a long, long time before I realized that was just ONE SIDE and there was a whole OTHER SIDE TO IT.
I played it safe and stuck to the basics: pearl milk tea with 1/3 sugar. Charlie decided to be experimental and tried the mint milk tea, also with 1/3 sugar. I personally thought 'ew' but each to their own, right?
The interior of Hazel Tea Shop is quite unusual. It's decked out like a traditional Chinese tea shop with dark wood and lattice detailing. Odd mix of trendy, new drink and old school decor.
Service was good. Drinks came out fast. On first taste, I didn't like my pearl milk tea that much but it really grew on me. The reduction of sugar lets the actual flavor of tea stand out more and it's pleasant and refreshing. I would have liked more pearls though.
As for the mint milk tea... Charlie liked it and I hated it. I asked him 'are you sure you like it' and he claimed that he was sure. It certainly tasted very, very minty but also with a green tea flavor.
Hazel Tea Shop opens from noon till late on most days, except for some reason, Sunday. We tried to go back on Sunday but found it was closed so we ended up going to another tea shop (that was also quite good).