Tea’se Me chicken salad with “chai” dressing

Sometimes I look back on my (undergrad) university years and wonder what the hell I did with all the time I had. Only one or two hours of paid work a week, roughly four classes taking up about 12 hours all up, study, sure, sometimes, but there were also four day weekends, days and days of Buffy marathons and idle op shopping.

In my third and fourth years I spent about as much time at the local tea shop as I did at university. Tea’se Me was just a few blocks away from the apartment I shared with a fellow creative writing student, and along with a modest gang of cohorts we would while away the hours trying different sorts of tea, tucking in to three-tiered sandwiches and talking a whole lot of crap. My favourite thing on the menu was the chicken salad. And the best thing about the chicken salad was the dressing.When I moved to Sutherland in my final year of undergrad I invented this version of the salad. Too far away from Wollongong, too infrequent a visitor and too busy juggling casual work with study, my days at Tea’se Me were whittled down to a minimum. I still go there sometimes when I’m in the area, as should you if you’re ever in Wollongong. There’s a wall of tea, where you can inhale the scents of the many varieties on offer (varieTEAS, more like). The tea is served in glass teapots with tiny handleless white china cups, perfect for sharing. The food is great and reasonably priced and the staff are genuinely lovely. As for the chai dressing – it’s sweet, with just enough tartness, plus it has an added depth from the mustard and cinnamon. It’s on every salad on the menu and many of the wraps and sandwiches, but to me this salad is the staple. Tea’se Me is a must-visit as far as I’m concerned, but in the meantime, if you’re too far away, give this a whirl. I’ve been a little more generous with the avocado and used a combination of slivered almonds and pine nuts, because that’s what I had on hand.

Note: the amounts in this recipe are a rough guide for one serving, because this salad is best made individually. However, the dressing recipe will yield enough for two servings. If you’re not using it all straight away, it can be kept in its jar in the fridge.


Handful of mixed greens
Handful of shredded BBQ or roast chicken (or about ¼ of the chicken), cold
2-3 slices of spanish onion separated into rounds
about 20g of crumbled fetta
1/3 of an avocado
tbsp pine nuts


2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp white wine vinegar
tsp brown sugar
pinch (about ¼ tsp) of cinnamon
tbsp honey wholegrain mustard


Assemble salad ingredients in layers in the order listed. For dressing, put all ingredients in clean glass jar and shake until emulsified. Drizzle dressing on salad as desired.