Tell Camellia, Hong Kong’s first contemporary tea cocktail bar, recently opened its doors in Central’s H Code development at 45 Pottinger Street. Founded by Sandeep Hathiramani and Gagan Gurung, the bar introduces a unique cocktail drinking experience based on teas that they have sourced from around the world. The name of the bar itself comes from Camellia sinensis, the scientific name for a species of evergreen shrub native to the mountainous regions and valleys of East Asia. Used to make tea, it’s an appropriate namesake for Tell Camellia that has been described as encapsulating “the soul of an explorer in pursuit of a road less travelled”.
The cocktails, known as “tea-tails” in Tell Camellia, are named after the place of origin of the tea blend. The inspiration from the countries and regions often result in unconventional combinations. Australia, for instance, draws inspiration from the land’s horticulture, wildlife and chocolate biscuits. Made with Yalangi Rain Tea from the wilderness regions of Queensland, clarified strawberry, chocolate Tim Tams and whisky (among other ingredients), it is one of the more unique concoctions.
Turkey is a Rize tea-based cocktail with raki (aka lion’s milk, Turkey’s national alcoholic drink) and garnished with kimyon leaf. Kenya combines the namesake country’s Marinyn tea with homemade banana wine, sweet potatoes and cornflakes, and is finished off with some honey and aged rum. Japan, a regional tea-tail, presents as an umami-filled cocktail served in a floating wooden cup. This particular concoction combines re-distilled and evaporated matcha tea, shochu, pumpkin seed, mint, fermented soybeans, rare plankton and seaweed dust. And this trip around the world wouldn’t be complete without drawing from Sri Lanka, which is known for its tea. For this particular tea-tail, Ceylon tea is roto-vaped and combined with coconut, basmati rice, green algae, rye whisky and homemade Ape Amma milk wine, and garnished with sea coral tuile, in a nod to Sri Lanka’s gorgeous oceans.
Tell Camellia also has another subsection of its cocktail menu that’s dedicated to herbal and tisane teas. Called T & Tonic, the teas are re-distilled with gin, and include alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Described as “quirky takes on the classic G&T”, the list includes titles like Mango & Strawberry, Italian Almonds & Truffle, Chocolate & Coconut, and Rosemary & Sweet Lime (a non-alcoholic rendition). Other beverages such as wines by the glass and bottle, beers and classic cocktails are also served.