Tea Drop recently opened its first beautifully designed, upmarket brew bar and retail store in the heart of South Melbourne Market, promising to give coffee-crazed Melbourne a run for its money.
Over a decade has gone into sourcing the world’s most scrumptious tea leaves, fruits, herbs and spices, and painstakingly blending over 100 flavours of teas – each uniquely delicious. Yet funnily enough, this story did indeed begin with coffee. Ashok Dias, a skilled barista at a boutique coffee roaster, was quite content making latte-foam artworks in a job he loved. It was in this coffee house that he found a mentor in his manager, who actually encouraged a young Dias to follow his heritage and his instincts away from coffee and towards tea.
Tea runs in the blood of Ashok Dias, now the founder and tea buyer of Tea Drop. His family owns the highly regarded Ivy Hills plantation, famous for its sought-after single origin tea, produced near Udalamatta, in the Province of Galle on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. “I had an epiphany in 2004, realising that tea was my calling, so I travelled to Sri Lanka and over the next few years I learned about tea from those in my homeland that were experienced in the world of tea.” That was just the beginning. Dias worked four jobs to fund visits to tea gardens around the globe, determined to discover the most unique, mouth-watering small batches of tea this earth had to offer.
All Tea Drop tea has been hand plucked, hand sorted and hand blended in small batches to guarantee freshness in every product. Fresh herbs, flowers and real fruit pieces are then blended with the whole leaf tea to create a subtle synergy of flavours, with a look and taste that has impressed Melbournians. Dias attributed the first-class results to a blend of “skill, patience and experience”.
Recent best sellers include micro-brewed nitrogen iced tea in flavours like genmaicha, as well as the increasingly popular South Melbourne Breakfast tea. The winter collection is forecast to be “spiced, creamy and delicious, like a warming hug” and the signature Malabar Chai is already becoming a Market favourite. Local chai latte fan, Emelye Lovell says of her Malabar Chai experience, “I believe every chai latte drinker in Melbourne needs to come and try one of these… it sets a new standard for what chai should taste like. Incredible”. Dias attributes the flavour to 100% natural black tea and the freshest spices.
True to his original vision as he flew from country to country, Dias is still striving to bring tea lovers “the best of the best” and create a sensory experience that cannot be found anywhere else. Many resorts, restaurants, hotels and cafes around Australia have already discovered the delicious range of Tea Drop teas, but Melbourne is the lucky home to Tea Drop and the finest teas in the world.