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Totoro’s Tea House

A tea house gallery

Property Donor: The GPT Group

Launched: 11 Aug 2009

Closed: 30 May 2010

Shop 1, 111 Hunter St Mall

Wed to Friday 10am – 5pm.

Contact: Natalie or Maddy e: totoro.teahouse[at]

Update February 2010: Totoro’s has now closed its doors and is making way for a new commercial tenant (the One Penny Black coffee house).

Teahouses are almost unheard of in Australia, especially not the European-style teahouse that the ladies from Totoro’s are inspired by. Think pre-loved furniture, op shop teapots with hand-knitted tea cosies, mismatched jars and tins storing tea and an old wooden bookcase overflowing with pre-loved tomes to borrow while you sip your tea.

Totoro’s Tea House will be part gallery, part tea-party, brought to you by Maddy Phelan and Licky la Creme.

Who are you?

More importantly, who is Totoro? (He is our rabbit friend). We are Maddy Phelan and Licky la Creme. We’re organisers of events such as zine fairs, art exhibitions and tea parties. We make zines, art, music and stories and now we are taking on a new identity: tea ladies! We come from another steel city but now we’re planning to live between three cities on the Eastern seaboard.

What do you do?

“We don’t DO, we just ARE!” …not really. that’s a quote from party monster. <3 We DO like to serve tea, make new friends and transform spaces into inviting places. How do you do? We’re please to meet you.

What inspired you to get involved in Renew Newcastle?

We were headhunted by one of the project bigwigs via a social networking site. And we thought, well, why not be part of this crazy revolution? Who are we to stay in our quiet suburban bedrooms spending too much time on social networking sites? Also, our lovely friend opened a zine shop. The tea house was something we wanted to do for a while, but until we heard of Renew Newcastle, it was never more than vague plans for some kind of monthly themed party. Now we’re doing it for realz!

What are you doing in your new space?

Making love – I mean tea. Tea with love. Tea with scones and jam and cream. Afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, Turkish tea with a side of hommus and tabbouli, chai tea with spice biscuits. We’re also exhibiting artwork by all your favourite zine kids and indie darlings as well as displaying some curious objects that may prick your interest. We want this to be a space where you come to read a book, practice the lost art of conversation, work on your upcoming zine, do your homework, cross-stitch in the corner, or bring a group of your favourite friends for a tea party.

Tell us about the space…

It used to be a trendy juice bar, catering to all sorts of juice-drinkers. Juice recently suffered a fall in popularity, and tea enthusiasts have taken this opportunity to gain a foothold in the beverage market. It’s a very commercial space, fitted out with tiles and stainless steel, but we’re hoping to make it a bit more welcoming.