My actual rating would be about 3.8 out of 5, if it were possible.
Firstly the brickbats. These guys have about 30-40 teas, and they don’t know much about them. They’ve taught the staff to make it consistetly, but it’s somewhat by remote control. It’s the sort of place where you might be offered milk in an oolong. And incidentally, they need to get better sweetener. Saccharine-based stuff went out with the 70’s.
However, we need to look at the big context here.
In Adelaide’s Deep South, it’s not a teaphile’s mecca. There’s very few places that have loose leaf tea, and far fewer that have more than a standard 5 or 6. In a relaitively low sociao-economic area, these guys are bravely persisting in selling teas of a moderate to high standard.
The range is well thought out – sometimes a little stale in the more unusual ones – and it’s obvious that coffee keeps this place afloat. This is teabag heartland, and not even your better quality ones.
On many occasion, Cafe 16 have saved the day when I needed good tea in a hurry. Their Pai Mu Tan is very fine indeed, their Ceylon Organic is the pick of the blacks.
When I owned a tea shop, I always used to rate this place as the second-best in town.
The range of teas is good to very good, the in-store information reasonable, though has some grammar issues, and the surroundings a little different, with the communal teatables that all T-bars have.
So far that describes all T-bars.
The central market does have some unique features – it bravely exists in the midst of a ton of coffee shops, for one.
When I compare the two T-bars I frequent the most, I must say that the staff at this one seem to have a little less passion for and knowledge of tea that the Adelaide Rundle Mall one.
However, on the flip side, it’s well run and the staff here are really friendly. And given that I will typically turn up once a week or so, have 4 or 5 consecutive meetings, swap tables four or five time and drink 5-6 teas, I must admit, I’m probably hard for staff to keep track of.
I’ve rated it 4/5 but if the star system had fractions, I’d probably go 4.3 . All in all, my favourite place.