The tea trend is here to stay so now is the time to know your Pu-erh from your herbals.
Boutique tea has been around for a while, and it seems that if anything the desire for the finer types is higher than ever. Over in New York, tucked away in a little urban grove of concrete and brown bricks is an atelier specializing in teas from every remote part of the globe. With its propensity to house some the rarest and finest of the world, Belloqc, is a place where you can let yourself go. Zoom around the planet using a teacup as your portal. And they are not the only ones. Boutique tea houses are springing up all over the world in an effort to bring customers exotic varieties from around the globe delivered right to your doorstep.
Another revered blender is Harney & Sons. Opened in 1983, Harney & Sons has been delivering quality leaves sourced from the most exotic locales consistently. Personally, I am a massive fan of their Organic Peppermint Loose Leaf as well as the Chocolate Mint – which tastes and smells like Peppermint Thins – and have been ordering tins of the stuff for over 5 years now. Honestly, the quality of their stuff is unbeatable and so is the price. You really can’t go wrong ordering these. Others that feature highly on my list are the African Autumn, Pomegranate Oolong and the Black – Paris Flavoured.
Now we all know it can be a bit overwhelming ordering tea if you are used to the typical black, sugar and milk thing. Leopolds of London in Abu Dhabi at the The Galleria mall have a library of 275 types from which to choose, which makes it mind boggling. Of course, there are specialists on hand to guide you, but in case you want to know a little more beforehand, here is what you need to know about distinguishing between your white tea from your green tea from your sencha.
Black, Green, White it’s all the same. But not really.
So, the first thing you need to know is that all tea, whether black, green or white, comes from the same leaf, camellia sinensis, but it’s just the way that the leaf is processed which gives off different flavours. The longer the leaf is oxidized, the more tannins are present and the darker the brew. Green tea is not oxidized or withered at all making it brighter in flavor while white tea is made from the only the buds or youngest leaves of the plant; making it the more expensive option.
Appreciated by connoisseurs because of its subtle notes and complexity. Due to it being made from the youngest leaves it possesses an inherent sweetness not found in either green or black varieties. Silver Needle is probably one of the most renowned sorts out there. When the freshest buds of the plant are picked they sometimes look soft and silvery – slightly downy and needle-like. A pot of fresh brew is likely to be a heavenly experience and something within the realm of transcendence. It is revered among those in the know as a medicinal curative that is will restore your constitution.
People out there don’t drink this casually. It has truck loads of devotees who buy in bulk to bliss out over the stuff. This variety is super dark and is encouraged to undergo a process called post-fermentation. After this micro-aging process it is often shaped into compact forms such as bricks, melons, dragon balls, or rounds. The fermentation process is what gives it its unique and complex flavor layers that no other tea can bring to the table. Often given as a gift among the social elite in China, this one will bring you serious street cred with those connoisseurs in the know. One that will definitely impress.
These are just the proverbial tip of the camellia. So, if you are interested in treating yourself to an indulgent experience, then the following might be of interest:
At the JW Marriott Marquis, there is La Farine and they offer ‘Salon de The’ which offers a superb afternoon tea experience. Complete with their very own tea sommelier, you will be able to learn more about the complexities of this world while indulging in some serious good treats. You shall even get an introduction to their own signature tea Tchaba.
At the Fairmont on the Palm you can also look forward to an immersive experience. The beautifully elegant Mashrabiya Lounge will be class up your afternoon without a doubt. Their selections of teas from around the world including Sri Lanka, Japan and China will have you swooning.
Nu Air Shisha Lounge at The Rixos on the Palm offers one of the best tea experiences in Dubai. Newly refurbished, you can sip on delightful beverages in private gazebos situated over water features where little fountains and running water add to ambience. Pure heaven. The tea sommeliers are trained to an exceptionally high standard and will help you decipher your Genmaicha from your Sencha.