When a work collegue told me about the current exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery it took a few weeks of procrastinating before I eventually made my way there. It's not that I didn't want to go, it just wasn't a priority.
2011 is the Year of the Rabbit so it's no wonder the current collection at the White Rabbit is named A Decade of the Rabbit. It's a fascinating exhibition of contemporary works from a bunch of Chinese artists with pieces such as a sprawling city made of porcelain, delicate tunics that are actually knitted paper and a woven wire Jeep that has you shaking your head at its intricate construction. Aside from the artworks I'm really loving the space of this four-level gallery; all white walls, high ceilings, and an airy well-lit teahouse on the ground floor.
To be honest I haven't been to many teahouses, thanks to preferring the java, but the few I have spent time in all had a comforting quality about them. The one at White Rabbit is one such place. A cloud of various Chinese bird cages hangs from the ceiling and every-so-often the lofty space echoes with the soft chirps of birds. Nice touch. Being a coffee drinker made the selection of Chinese-grown teas a little daunting so I go with one that sounds pretty - chrysanthemum and goji berry tea. This tisane supposedly detoxifies the body and nourishes the eyes and should be sweetened by the small lumps of rock sugar that are provided. It's served in a clear glass pot that displays the rehydrated flowers and berries and after allowing it to infuse, it only developed a skerrick of flavour when I got to the last dregs. I was beginning to crave coffee.
Mr K chooses the lu xue ya, otherwise known as snow bud green tea and as he is pouring it into the cute little cup I started thinking about the tea that is served in cafe's. I'm not a tea drinker but what makes it acceptable to serve up teabags? If cafe's started churning out instant coffee they'd go broke in a second but somehow teabags are considered ok. Seems like a bit of a cop-out to me.
The teahouse serves up a few edibles to have with your infusions such as sweet or savoury snack plates and two varieties of steamed dumplings - egg & chive and chicken, corn & mushroom. They come served with a side of soy sauce and dried chilli in oil and sadly the innards are as subtle in flavour as the teas. I'm guessing people come here for the tea.
Now, lets find somewhere that makes coffee.White Rabbit Teahouse30 Balfour StreetChippendale 200802 8399 2867Thur-Sun 10am-6pmwhiterabbitcollection.org