May 21, 2015

Afternoon Tea: Two E Bar at The Pierre

Social media has made it possible to make virtual friends and I've been lucky that it's even better to meet them in person. This was definitely the case when I met Lisa Kunizaki of Chambre de Sucre last fall at an afternoon tea at The Pierre's Two E Bar and Lounge. Alexis arranged the tea and Jee was a guest too. The Pierre gave each of us a lovely notebook. It makes a great prop! I am looking forward to using mine when one of my current notebooks is completed.  Now, on to the tea service.

I enjoyed most of the sandwiches -- I can't speak to the meat ones. The scones were good too and served with cream, lemon curd, jam. Butter cookies were served alongside the scones. The pastries were very good -- financiers, tartlets, meringues, madeleines, macarons. Thankfully each item was a small portion so one could eat one of everything.

This is my favorite photograph from the afternoon tea. If memory serves correct, it was the Assam.

May 07, 2015

Afternoon Tea at The Peacock

When I'm not writing about tea, I am reading and writing about animals and plants, though mostly the ones that inhabit cities. I am a nature lover. Because of the name, I was extra curious about afternoon tea at The Peacock in the William Hotel. I've seen live peacocks; they are stunning creatures. The taxidermied, I assume, peacock in the tea room was impressive.

Jee kindly made reservations for three (the two of us and Sara). Read Jee's review in which she writes about the reservation process. During that process we had to submit our selections for every aspect of the service. I missed perusing the menu on site! When we arrived, one other table was occupied, but we were the only ones in the room by the end of our tea service.

Coincidentally each of us selected the English Breakfast from Bellocq aka No. 01, Bellocq Breakfast, a blend of Indian, Chinese, and Ceylon black teas. What a great tea! Although I added milk to mine, it was equally perfect without. If I recall correctly, we ordered three pots. Each pot held exactly three cups of tea. The teaware was pretty; designed by Wedgwood.

Our sandwiches included cucumber, egg salad, roast beef, and salmon. The egg salad was fantastic. I would love the recipe (hint, hint, Chef Hicks). I can't speak about the roast beef but I liked the cucumber and salmon sandwiches too. Everything tasted freshly made.

The scones were also quite good. They were served with lemon curd and jam. We requested clotted cream.

I must admit I was excited to eat the desserts. I had never heard of the two we decided upon -- the Banoffee Pie and Bakewell Tart. The Banoffee is made of bananas and cream and toffee/dulce de leech, according to Wikipedia. I really like banana-based foods! The Bakewell tart was very sweet. Its main ingredients are jam and an almond sponge, also according to Wikipedia.

I didn't think the room was particularly dark but upon reviewing my photographs, it appears quite moody. I'd like to come back for the egg salad sandwiches, the scones, the Banoffee pie, and the Bellocq Breakfast tea. By the way, tea for two at The Peacock is $50.

May 06, 2015

Tea Review: TÊTÊ Himalayan Full Leaf White Tea

At TÊTÊ, we have just three varieties of tea - green, white, and black - all sourced from more than 5,000 feet from the Himalayas in Nepal. The teas are organic, but because they are grown by small farmers, they are not certified organic. -- Raunak Agarwal, TÊTÊ founder

Tea varietal information is not listed on TÊTÊ tea packets. When I received teas from the company, I followed up with Raunak for this information. The white tea is Bai Mu Dan (aka Bai Mudan or White Peony). The green tea is a pan roasted Darjeeling clonal and the black tea is a "highly oxidized oolong" also using a Darjeeling clonal.

I've been drinking the Bai Mu Dan and here's my review.

I allowed my water to cool below the recommended 200F. I used a tasting cup set as well as a teapot. With the tasting cup, I steeped about 1 tablespoon of leaves four times (1 thirty-second and three 1-minute infusions). I also prepared the tea using a short, wide teapot steeping the tea leaves for approximately 5 minutes.  My notes below are based on the tasting cup preparation.

The nose of the tea at the 30-second infusion was of hay and cream. The liquor tasted of stone fruit (apricot, peach) and smelled of spring flowers. Also, the tea had a thick mouthfeel. With the first two 1-minute infusions, the stone fruit flavor remained with the addition of a marzipan (almond) flavor. Chestnut is often the nutty flavor associated with Bai Mu Dan. By the third 1-minute infusion, most of the flavors had dissipated. (When I prepared this tea in a pot, it was drier in the mouth than when prepared with the tasting cup.)

Learn more about the TÊTÊ story here. Thank you Raunak for answering all my questions.

April 30, 2015

TeaVivre 2015 Chinese Spring Green Teas (+ coupon)

2015 Spring Green Tea Assortment via Teavivre (source)

My experiences with TeaVivre teas have been good. The greens: Huang Shan Mao Feng, Pi Lo Chun, and Bai Mu Dan. The blacks: Premium Keemun Hao Ya, Bailin Gongfu, and Golden Monkey. The green teas on offer this spring include Premium Dragon Well Long Jing, Bi Luo Chun (Pi Lo Chun), Huang Shan Mao Feng, Lu Shan Yun Wu, and Xin Yang Mao Jian.

TeaVivre has graciously provided me with 5 coupon codes for its 2015 spring green teas! The first five readers to leave a comment about their favorite Chinese green tea will receive one coupon code each. The coupon is good for a sample assortment of five green teas and free shipping.

Happy commenting and tea drinking!

April 16, 2015

Favorite Tea Ware - Sara Shacket of Tea Happiness

As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from bombillas to matcha whisks. Everyone has their favorites. This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community. Today's faves are from Sara Shacket of Tea Happiness.

My Zojirushi tea tumbler is an essential part of my tea routine. I will often brew a pot of tea first thing in the morning, and take the remains with me for my subway commute. It makes the train ride so much better. I barely notice the crush of people or loud noises around me when I have good tea to sip. I use the tumbler on the weekends as well, when we need to leave the house early. The Littest Tea Critic also likes to steal sips from it, as you can see from her little hand in the picture!

Another teaware essential I cannot live without is my little beehouse teapot. It's the perfect size for a mug and a half of tea in the office. I use it multiple times during my workday to brew strong black teas to get me through long meetings. It is a familiar sight around my office.

My travel gaiwan and tea tray are also essential for office tea enjoyment. I use this daily for more delicate and special teas. It gives me a reason to slow down and have a mini tea meditation in the middle of a hectic work day.

I have a weakness for collecting things, and I love vintage tea cups. Drinking tea from a dainty cup makes every sip special. I also like the idea of a more formal tea time. I've been collecting vintage cups for many years, and art deco style cups are my favorite. They also make lovely display pieces.

My final favorite isn't actually something I use. It's an old beat up sugar canister my grandparents had on their table during my childhood. They drank tea with sugar cubes nestled between back teeth for a sweet sip every time. I would steal sugar cubes when no one was looking for a crunchy, sweet secret. I am flooded with happy memories of spending time with my grandparents every time I look at it.

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Two of my favorite things about Sara's blog are the industry interviews and the Littlest Tea Critic tastings.

I appreciate your sharing of your favorite teaware and their stories with us, Sara! All photos and stories courtesy of Sara Shacket.