So what’s up with Dunedin these days? I wonder.

Vogel Street is getting a makeover.  Ed Sheeran was in town and Dunedin survived a heatwave.  There is also the new store, a franchise called Chatime, busy despite the windchill at the university end of George Street.  Technically the Chatime store is not new because it has been open for a year – it’s new to me and by Dunedin’s reckoning though.  Chatime is on facebook, twitter etc.


The wind can be quite rude in Dunedin.  On the day we were out and about a solid draught barged up George Street oblivious of fellow shoppers.  We made our way incrementally by ducking into store fronts to avoid the wind’s freezing elbows.  That is how we found Chatime.

The tea menu at Chatime is impressive and utterly foreign to me.  Other customers are students, predominantly Asian.  Decor is clinical, dispensary.  A group of skinny young men jostle for space around a lozenge sized table. They laugh at the large overhead screen while messaging and posting on their personal phones.

The tea is cold, served with tapioca in a plastic cup and comes with a plus-sized straw. We feel well-matured in this crowd.

Still life with boba tea

I order the roasted milk tea from a very polite, patient and helpful teaista.  The tea is divine. Simply divine.  And thirst quenching. I could easily have another.

A Gang of Four enter the tea-dispensary.  They immediately begin to take selfies.  Gigabytes of selfies.  The girls seem experienced.  They strip off their selfie-faces to try another and another.  They’re good.  Cheek to cheek, one pouts while the other stares vacant as an android.  The phone lowers and the girls’ expressions return to screensaver mode; the phone is raised and the pair have swapped roles. The girl gang order fruit teas and we make our exit, each clasping our second milk tea – oolong this time. I really don’t mind the tapioca pearls and you can suck the tea up without catching any of the pearls – at least you can try.

I’m pretty sure these pearl teas (aka bubble or boba tea) make you younger and by the end of the second oolong even the wind is less obnoxious.  So we whizz to Saint Clair for a late, light lunch followed by a proper hot tea which turns out to be yet another perfect cup.  At an Italian restaurant too!

They still know how to make a decent pot of tea in Otago – hot or cold.

The Salt Water Baths at St Clair







10 replies on “I Say Teatime You Say Chatime

  1. I could feel the wind in the street and had to smile at this sentence: ‘The wind can be quite rude in Dunedin.’ brilliant. I lived on the North East coast of Scotland in St. Andrews for a couple of years and the wind was rude every day!! I got blown off my bike numerous times! Oh, how I would have loved to retreat to a Chatime. Interesting selection of teas to try and perfect rejuvenating place! Did you join the culture and take selfies?! 😀❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dunedin is modelled on Edinbourgh and is very proud of it’s Scottish heritage. Ha,ha – we didn’t take any selfies and I was self-conscious about our camera – it looked so old and huge next to all the iPhones.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “expressions return to screensaver mode.” Brilliant!
    I’ve come across a reference to tea with an egg beaten up in it, in the absence of milk. Tried that?


      1. It comes from ‘Station Life in New Zealand’ by Lady Barker (1860s). She was given it by the shepherd at the “outstation”. He had chickens but no cow. I think I’d rather have it black. Still, can’t be worse than tapioca!


        1. Oh no … it sounds worse than tapioca. Those bubble teas are an art form! I have recently purchased Station Life in New Zealand – at a second hand bookstore. I Look forward to the piece. I am reading The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie by David Hastings at the moment. ‘Dreadful murder at Opunake’ – Parihaka days.


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