On April 11th, I had the esteemed pleasure of entertaining a group of tea novices and a few ‘tea regulars’ with the simple delights of chocolate and tea. In a first of a myriad of pairings and other tea oriented events planned for this year, I must say, I am truly happy with the how things turned out.
Click to view slideshow for this event
It is always wonderful when you bring someone new into the space of tea and the wonderful world therein. I think I converted some newbies for sure. Here’s how the evening went.
Special note should taken for the venue itself. Nestled on E. 31st between Park Avenue South and Lexington Avenues in New York City, sits a beautiful structure that will give you the sense of China if only briefly……enchanting you with it’s charm. Chinese Garden and Buddhist Temple included. When I saw this space, I knew it would be the perfect venue.
The night would showcase 4 teas, 4 chocolates and a few extras. It would also include a special poetic presentation by Marella Eliza, a Columbus, Mississippi native who came to New York some years ago to pursue her aspirations as a Performance Artist. Marella has worked with me in the past (August 2012 - Tiffany’s Tea Party Honoring Flo Anthony) and I have worked with her on her event: Poetry and Tea (Nuyorican Poets Cafe 2012). It was also an unofficial send off gathering for fellow tea business associate, Joyce Gillens. Joyce will open and operate Joy’s Specialtea Cafe in Negril, JA West End.
Ok On to the teas…
I wanted to take my guests on a journey that would basically introduce them to the pleasures of unadulterated tea but from a non intimidating vantage point. To fulfill this goal 2 of the 4 teas were ‘blends’ one blended by me and the other a traditional Japanese Green Tea Blend (Gemiacha).
Before the guests entered the main area, I prepared the first pairing which was a new Tea by Tiffany blend: White Chocolate Lavender. I blended the ‘chocolate’ in with the tea… White Chocolate, White Peony from China, and Lavender Buds. Since white chocolate is actually the fat or butter (cocoa butter of the cocoa bean) it marries well with the tea, making certain not to overcome the delicate flavor of the tea. The lavender adds its exquisite bouquet to produce a lovely relaxing tea that can be enjoyed by most anyone.
Tiny coconut candies were added for this pairing.
While guest mingled in the front they had the pleasure of watching me brew tea for the nights festivities.
Upon entering our lovely tasting room space… calming music, beautiful scents and a lovely decorated scenery embraced guests. I was ready. This was show time… I vowed to wow them, delight them and educate them at the same time.
Now we go to Japan for Genmaicha (green tea). I love this tea because its light, with a stand out taste. The roasted nuttiness of the rice pairs nicely with Sencha (there was no Ma’cha in this blend) and the popped corn is an equalizer. I knew right away milk chocolate and a rice cake would go well. I also thought the slight spiciness of Washibi kernels would be great as the added treat.
Everyone loved this pairing. They remarked how each taste brought out the taste of the other. They contemplated providing this same treat to loved ones and friends.
Back to China for Shui Wuyi Oolong. This oolong was a medium roast with a slight floral undertone. I told my guests that oolongs are considered the connoisseurs tea and that it happens to be my favorite category of tea bar none. After they sampled the pairing they understood why.
For this pairing I decided to go with dried oranges dipped in blood orange chocolate. The crowd was going mad by this point. Ohs and ahhs, a few OMG’s were heard from the crowd, and I was happy.
My mission is being accomplished.
Finally the fourth and final pairing. For this I take my guests to Assam India where we find the single most largest tea region in the world. Producing more than 500 million kg per year covering a broad market of tea drinkers the world over. Known for its robust atmosphere, hard working and driven population, Assam’s tea is no different. This hard working tea yields a robust, strong, malty and deep chocolaty profile.
Of course we paired this with an exquisite dark chocolate over a strawberry. By this time as you can imagine the guests or aleast some of them were beginning to have “eh - hem” other thoughts (wink, wink) suited only for…… let’s just say, tea will do something to you. You can’t loose with black tea, dark chocolate and a strawberry.
For many the final pairing was the favorite, for others the oolong gave them something they never thought possible. Still for others the Gemaicha paired with milk chocolate and rice cake was the perfect snack and treat without any guilty residues. The all-in-oneness of the White Chocolate Lavender Blend was a great dessert tea.
Throughout the presentation I took questions from guests on the pairings as well as methods of steeping the teas. I forgot to mention before, I spoke about each pairing and prepared a small pot of each tea on-sight for guests. Those guests who sat in the bar stools in front of me got extra tea and extra treats. After I did this little exercise and gave my little talk, Marella and Joyce made sure each guests had their pairings to partake in. It was truly a magical night.
The evening of course could not have gone so smoothly without the assistance of a wonderful team of people from the venue, my co-hosts (Marella Eliza and Joyce) my brother the artist (Jaron) and to everyone who attended. I look forward to serving you again. It is indeed my pleasure.
The amazing chocolates were provided by FASO FOODS: Grafhoff Belgium Chocolates, and Chocolate Blocks from Trader Joes.
Stay tuned for the next pairing event as well as other updates from your favorite tea purveyor, Tea by Tiffany.