Australian tea company T2 concocts brew in homage to kaya toast

T2 chief executive officer Nicky Sparshott with the Singapore Breakfast tea, a blend of pu'er, green tea, coconut flakes and roasted rice.
T2 chief executive officer Nicky Sparshott with the Singapore Breakfast tea, a blend of pu'er, green tea, coconut flakes and roasted rice.ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

Australian tea chain T2 opens its first outlet in Asia with a store here and a brew which pays homage to kaya toast

The newly launched Singapore Breakfast tea - a blend of pu'er, green tea, coconut flakes and roasted rice - pays homage to kaya toast, the local breakfast staple.

It is among more than 150 types of teas at Australian tea chain T2's maiden outlet in Asia, which is located at 313@Somerset mall.

T2 chief executive officer Nicky Sparshott says Singapore was picked for the company's Asian debut because the country "has a strong tea-drinking culture with multicultural influences, from black tea dating back to the colonial period to Asian tea beverages such as teh tarik (Malay for pulled tea) and green tea".

"So we want to take in this diversity to offer unique tea products in a sophisticated retail landscape," she adds.

The 550 sq ft store, which opened last Thursday, offers myriad teas, from black, green and white to rooibos, and herbal and fruit-based tisanes.

The tea company is known for its quirky and imaginative range of teas with unorthodox combinations of ingredients.

Bestsellers include French Earl Grey, which has bergamot-infused black tea perfumed with rose and sunflower petals and hibiscus; Green Rose, green tea paired with mango, papaya and rose petals; and Fruitalicious tisane, which is a refreshing blend of cranberries, blueberries, dragonfruit and goji berries.

Singapore is among T2's top five markets in online sales in the last two years.

Ms Sparshott hopes that the country's reputation as a tourism hub can expose the tea company to visitors in Asia.

She is also targeting savvy millennials with experimental taste buds, as well as riding on the growing popularity of tea around the world.

"Tea has moved from being a beverage for old people to having infinite possibilities - from being drunk in different ways, as a morning pick-me-up or relaxant, to being infused with all sorts of food. There is an appetite for new invention in teas," she says.

Other tea boutiques here include the TWG Tea chain and The 1872 Clipper Tea Company, which opened a tea retail shop-cum-bar in Ion Orchard in April last year.

T2's outlet here - like its more than 75 outlets in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom - has black floor-to-ceiling shelves that are lined with brightly coloured tea boxes, tea pots, cups and accessories.

Prices start from $15 for a box of tea, mostly similar to those in Australia.

Taking centre stage in the shop is an island brew bar with tea-making apparatus, where six types of hot and iced tea beverages are brewed daily for customers to sample.

Ms Sparshott adds that customers may attend regular tea masterclasses and tea-blending sessions through the tea community group, T2 Society, which is free to join.

T2, which started in Melbourne in 1996 and was acquired by consumer goods giant Unilever in 2013, is one of the world's largest tea companies and owns brands such as Lipton.

According to Ms Sparshott, the company intends to open another three or four outlets here in the coming year. She is confident that tea will become the beverage of the next generation. "Tea will only get more diverse; it has the pick-me-up quality of coffee and it is a base that can be infused to create delicious and exciting combinations."

•T2 is at 01-20 313@Somerset, 313 Orchard Road, open: 10am to 10pm daily, tel: 6835-7085. For more information, go to www.T2tea.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore Breakfast tea, anyone?'. Print Edition | Subscribe