Tea Party

By Fiona Stocker.

Image: Clint and Bethanie.

Image: Clint and Bethanie.

Step into glorious tea and giftware den Cocoon Living on the ‘George Street Boulevard’, as owner Bruce Webb calls it, and you’re deep in a world dedicated to the art of the leaf.

Not just for tea fanciers, the shop is a goldmine of home and kitchen-wares, of delectable quality and variety.

Bruce worked for the best, managing food halls, kitchenware and homeware departments for David Jones, and had a long-held dream of owning his own small empire. Holidaying in Launceston nine years ago and finding himself a little in love with the elegant city, he realised this could be the place. Cocoon Living is now the biggest tea retailer at the top end of the island.

A stockist for Australian brand T2, their jewel coloured boxes create a wall of colour. Alongside them are more individual brands discovered by Bruce, a passionate supporter of small business. T Leaf Tea from New Zealand is run by a husband and wife team. Tasmanian Tea Company product comes from Hobart, and Tea Garden provides a quirky notes with its crazily named blends – try ‘Calm Your Farm’, or ‘Cute But Psycho’ for your morning cuppa!

Another popular range comes from indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, with 30% of the sale price returned to that community.

All teas are top quality, natural or organic, hand-blended and tested for purity, and come from all over the world – South American, Africa, Ethiopia, India, Queensland and New Zealand.

Variety is the spice of life in the shop’s giftware, with objet to delight the eye everywhere you look – ample bone China and exquisite Japanese tea-ware – cups and saucers, trivets and pots artfully arranged alongside tea towels, wax wraps and novelty books.

Exuberant tea cosies are knitted by hand by fellow tea enthusiasts Tracy and Annie who work in the shop. You’ll often find them in a cosy knitting circle with a crowd of happy customers, a brew of tea on the counter. 

Cocoon has a loyal customer base of committed tea drinkers. For those looking to try something new, there are counter tastings in surprising colours – ruby red rose tea, creamy chai. Over a golden apple and cinnamon blend which sparkles on the tongue, we chat about wintering with a brew.

Top tip for Launceston’s tea tipplers

Fine tea can be brewed several times. That’s the fourth brewing of the rose tea you’re sampling, and the chai has been brewed six times. Iced teas are beautiful with a hit of gin, or you can add Tia Maria and Bailey’s Original to chai tea.

Top winter teas and personal favourites

My personal favourite tea is Malty Breakfast, which won a gold medal. Chai teas are lovely for winter, full of cardamom, cinnamon and all those spices that give you a nice warm feeling.

Most popular teas

Tassie Breakfast Tea and Lonnie Breakfast Tea, made by T Leaf Tea company. They’re a blend of Assam leaves, classic, a little on the strong side because of our cooler weather, and they’re teas you can infuse twice over.

Winter pleasures

I love going for bush walks, right out into the mountains, to clear the mind. Or with my friends I’ll go to a pub for some pub grub and a few beers – sit around a roaring fire and share some jokes and company.

Students and pensioners are awarded a 10% discount on teas, and a random selection of teas are discounted every week.

Cocoon Living’s stylish matt-paper bags and packaging are made from recycled materials and Bruce’s commitment to good living, whether it’s environmental, creative or community minded, is ever present. ‘It’s great the way the world is changing,’ he says.

Rob King