The Tea Centre, Albert Lane, Brisbane

Brisbane's laneways are finally emerging from dust bin haven to coffee heaven creating new quirky eating experiences throughout the city.

The new Albert Lane is not the result of a makeover, instead it has emerged from nowhere as part of a redevelopment on the corner of Queen and Albert Streets in the heart of  Brisbane. It's home to several eateries worth checking out - Vapiano, Mad Espresso and Little Singapore.

But if you are after a good cup of tea it's hard to go past The Tea Centre.  They have over 180 varieties of tea and an eclectic selection of tea pots and tea cups on display and for sale.

The Tea Centre is part of chain with eight retail shops on the east coast. Their tea comes from around the world and is air freighted to Australia every 6 to 8 weeks - about 25 tonne of it annually. So you can pretty well guarantee there's going to be a tea for you - if you can make the choice.

Along with your tea you can have a sweet treat ranging from brownies or apricot cheesecake to yes, you guessed it, a cupcake! There's also another favourite of mine, Sticky Date Pudding with caramel sauce and cream.

If you'd rather go the savoury route, there's a selection of toasted sandwiches and wraps, soup of the day and savoury and fruit muffins.  And Banana Bread - the deli staple.

I was very pleased with my choice of tea. An Assam blend, it was strong without being overpowering, with a great tea flavour.  V Diddy chose an iced tea and enjoyed the sweet, rosehip infused flavour.

Of course I also chose a cupcake, in fact we chose two from the display cabinet. I spied the cupcakes on quick Friday night visit and when I returned on Sunday lunchtime I saw similar cupcakes in the cabinet. After eating the cupcakes I think they were one and the same.  They had that 'I tasted good once but now all I taste of is the fridge' flavour.  And they were cold. It was disappointing.  Especially since the large cupcake cost me $5.  The icing was the most disappointing. The cake, while unappetisingly cold, had a reasonable flavour and texture.

Bottom line: Great tea but forget the cupcake unless you know it's very fresh.

The Tea Centre
Shop G11, Albert Lane, Brisbane. +61 3211 3856

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