29 January 2011

Just died and went to tea heaven - Monk Bodhi Dharma

Cafe Review: Monk Bodhi Dharma
Where: 202 Carlisle St, Balaclava

Wow. Just...wow. I think I've actually found a really good tea house (slash cafe) in Melbourne. Seriously THE best cup of tea I've had in a long time.

It started with a 1 and a half hour drive to Balaclava (damn you Hoddle St, are you ever not crowded?) and then a good ten minutes of searching. Monk Bodhi Dharma. It's like a little converted two room house down an alley way off Carlisle St - I don't think you'd know it was there if you weren't looking for it.

The first thing I'd like to say about Monk Bodhi Dharma is: it rocks. I don't know about you, but there are some places I walk into and I think "wow I am SO not cool enough to be here" (mostly because it's full of hipsters) but this place isn't like that. It's got an eclectic clientele - we were sat between some hipsters and and two lovely old ladies. There is a great atmosphere, everyone seems really happy and there are fantastic solid wood tables and orchids everywhere.

Secondly, I recommend turning straight to the last page of the menu. Oh sure, they have your regular english breakfast, earl grey etc selection on the second page, but the last page is where the amazing teas are. I've been to tea houses that have 200+ teas, and I had more trouble choosing tea today than I've had anywhere else.

Each tea is accompanied by its estate of origin, an almost wine review of its flavour characteristics (think along the lines of "melon flavours with a crisp after taste") and an approximate brewing time. This turns out to be very helpful because there appears to be only one kettle boiling. My friend's tea comes out a good 5 minutes before mine. But you know, I don't mind because both pots have been brewed perfectly. Brewed to the right temperature for the right time. I am almost left speechless by the care taken with this.

My friend orders the long well, while I get the jin xuan. Oh. My. God. This tea comes with subtelties. It takes me a few minutes, but finally identify plum flavours under the earthiness of my tea. My friend's comes with a sort of rosemary, almost roast lamb, scent and refreshing floral flavour. I am in absolute heaven.

We also notice that Monk Bodhi Dharma has an amazing breakfast menu, and a coffee list to rival their tea selection. I highly recommend checking out this little hide out. I'm only sorry I didn't get any photos, but hey, that's just a reason to go back again.

The Rating
Atmosphere: 5/5
Available food: 4/5
Tea range: 5/5
Tea had: 5/5
Overall: 19/20


  1. I love the tea here too! MBD's the best reason I know to go south of the river for breakfast. :-)

  2. I ADORE the tea at Monk Bodhi Dharma. I love best that they brew it for you and give you a teapot free of leaves. No musty, over-steeped second cup that way!

    Also, hooray for having a blog entirely devoted to tea!