Sunday, December 9, 2012

Harrods Spiced Tea (aka Christmas Tea): A Tea Review

Whether we like it or not, and I do like it, Christmas is closing in. I'm not all that keen on the commercialness of Christmas however the one thing I love the most about this time of year is the food and all its accompaniments. I know I could go and buy a big turkey and roast it up any time of the year, and sometimes I do, but there's something special about cracking open an overpriced cardboard bonbon and wearing the daggy paper crown that makes the turkey taste just that little bit better. There is however one special Christmas treat that tastes just as great and makes you feel just as special all year round, it is my friends Spiced Tea.

It was Christmas eve a few years ago and I was in Singapore Airport with my probably better half. One thing you should know about this airport is that you could literally have your holiday there, it's huge and incredible. All the other times we had travelled through this airport we had been on a different airline in a different terminal. Today we were in a new terminal, well new to us anyway. As we wandered along killing time before our flight suddenly I saw something incredible. My superb distance vision had honed in on a green signature like logo and a six foot bear in a green vest and cap. To you this might not mean anything but to me it meant one thing, Harrods. Much to my my delight, there in the middle of Singapore airport was a Harrods, it might have been the size of my bedroom but it was still Harrods. It stocked your general souvenir type goods and a decent range of teas. As I was being ushered away from inevitable credit card blowout I noticed a red tin, it had Father Christmas on it in his sleigh and he was flying over the iconic Harrods' building. It is fair to say it had my attention. I picked it up, read the ingredients of this 'spiced tea' and before my husband could say 'your tea cupboard is bursting at the hinges', it was purchased and placed inside a green shopping bag that dangled from my hand.

The thing that enticed me about this tea was the blend of flavours. It starts with a black tea base and builds on it with spices reminiscent of chai such as cinnamon, cardamon, clove, ginger and vanilla. It then adds to them with some blackberry leaves, red thistle and orange blossom. It combined a lot of the flavours I love, especially during the cooler months.

After a decent 7+ hour flight we landed safe and sound back in Australia. I don't know if you have ever traversed Australian borders, it's a pretty daunting thing, even when you haven't done anything wrong! I guess nobody wants to end up being the silly person on the television show Border Security. It was around 7am on Christmas morning and we were keen to get home, have a quick nap and head out to Christmas lunch which would be followed by a cup of my new Christmas tea, or so I thought.

As we opened our suitcases to be searched we declared we had food, which we did, I had a stash full of Percy Pigs and Fudgy Bars - don't judge me. Then I remember I had my tea so I put that out on the counter too. Like a hawk the quarantine officer snatched up the tin and read through the ingredients. 'I have to open this' she said. 'That's ok' I replied. As she opened the tin the aroma hit me, it was divine, it was tea heaven. And then my dreams were shattered. 'This has orange peel in it, I have to confiscate it'. 'What, no', I thought to myself as I reluctantly let her pry the pretty tin from my fingers. I was devastated that I wouldn't be able to drink the tea. She mistook my sadness for some kind of border protest and forced some brochures into my hand and told me to read the laminated piece of paper on the counter about border protection. I put the pamphlets back down and kindly told her that I was fully aware of the reason why it was being confiscated and I agree with protecting our country and blah blah but I was just a little upset that after smelling that incredible tea I would never be able to have a cup.

As we walked through the doors out into the airport terminal my head hung low with a certain sadness. I was pretty sure those customs people would be enjoying themselves a lovely cup of Christmas tea.

Fast forward another year and my wonderful husband happened to be passing through Singapore on a business trip. He picked up another tin of Spiced Tea and decided to try again. This time he was successful and they didn't have a problem with the spicy blend. We looked at the tea, there was no orange peel, just flakes of cinnamon curl. We wondered if they had changed the recipe. Regardless, I settled in for my first very long awaited cup of this tea. I was not disappointed. Where does this tea take me?

Imagine that gorgeous English cottage from the Cameron Diaz film 'The Holiday'. I'm sitting in front of the fireplace on a comfy lounge drinking a large mug of this spicy but sweet warming tea. In a perfect world there would also be a little bit of snow outside. I love a cup of this tea in the evening, especially after a long difficult day.

So, regardless of the weather where you are this Christmas, if you can get your hands on this tea, you wont regret it. It also comes in white spiced tea and green spiced tea.

The Verdict

Tea: Spiced Tea (black)
Store: Harrods
Rating: 5/5
Comment: A delicious blend of black tea and chai flavours with a slight natural sweetness. Brew this for 4-5 minutes at 100 degrees celsius and serve with milk.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Coconut Tea: A Tea Review

I have spoken briefly about Tea Tonic teas when I reviewed The Aviary Dessert Kitchen and had a pot of Apple Tree Tea. Tea Tonic is an Australian tea company that claims to create Australia's healthiest tea. Whether this is true or not I'm not sure but what I can tell you is that they make some truly dreamy teas. Tea Tonic teas are blended by the lovely Lisa, a naturopath and herbalist. Many of the herbs used in the teas are grown organically in Australia and if you choose a tea bag you can enjoy your tea knowing it has been made in an unbleached tea bag. That's the other thing I enjoy about these teas, you can buy the tea loose leaf or in tea bags. Whilst I drink loose leaf at home I prefer to have some tea bags with me at work for pure convenience.

Earlier this year I discovered an incredible day spa, it rates second on my list of favourite day spas. Encase you were wondering, number one is the Onsen Spa at Dinner Plain in Victoria. There is something magically relaxing about sitting in a hot spring, albeit man made, surrounded by snow. I had been searching for something that would come close to the experience of that incredible day spa and then I found this gorgeous little place not far from my house. Obviously there is no snow here, no plunge spas or saunas in the change room but one of things that I loved most about my visit to this spa, apart from the incredible treatment that I had, was that upon arrival I was handed a cute little tea pot and tea cup and told to relax. I kind of chuckled, 'me relax' I thought, 'impossible'! I just don't relax, I'm always on. I sat down and took a sip of this tea and something started to happen, I was being relaxed whether I wanted to or not. This was when I decided I had to buy myself some of this deliciously relaxing tea.

The tea was Coconut Tea. Tea Tonic describe it as a 'bright and breezy blend' and I would certainly agree. There is something lovingly refreshing about this tea with its blend of coconut flakes, pineapple pieces, aloe vera pieces and Yerba Mate. Its flavours are slightly reminiscent of a pina colada. Before I go in to much more detail, let me show you my tea place for this tea. When I drink this tea this is where I imagine myself to be, relaxing in a hammock, drinking straight from a coconut.

A key ingredient to this tea is Yerba Mate. Yerba Mate is considered the green tea of South America. Yerba is Spanish for herb and unlike a tea bush the Mate is actually a tree growing as high as 15 metres. Grown in places like Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, Mate is high in antioxidants and whilst still containing caffeine it has less than traditional black teas and asian green teas. Much like your asian green teas, Yerba Mate based teas should be brewed at a lower temperature to black teas, say around 75 celsius, otherwise they too can become slightly bitter. Both the leaves and twigs are used in the tea which produce a herby taste.

Another ingredient in this tea that I'm fairly sure I've never ingested before is aloe vera. Usually it's something we find in gel form to ease the sting of sun burn. The health properties of aloe vera are disputed but none the less it adds a refreshing aftertaste to this blend.

This is a great tea for summer and a bonus is that it doesn't really need any sugar or sweetener as the pineapple adds enough sweetness. This tea is best consumed warm as the aroma is incredible.

Tea Tonic teas are not readily available in supermarkets however you can buy them online from the company direct or check their website for a stockist near you. The great thing about these teas is that you can purchase them so many ways. You can buy the small travel size tin of loose leaf tea like the one pictured below, a large tea caddy, tea bags or even half a kilo of the blend! In my honest opinion the best thing to do is browse through the Tea Tonic online store and purchase yourself a tea bag sampler box containing the Coconut Tea, Apple Tree Tea and many other fantastic blends.

The Verdict

Tea: Coconut Tea
Store: Tea Tonic (online store)
Rating: 5/5 
Comment: A perfect summer tea for relaxing or even jump starting your morning. Make sure you brew it correctly at around 70-80 degree celsius and drink it warm.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Just Tickled Pink: A Tea Place Review

When it came time for an end of year mini celebration for some lovely lady friends and myself I knew high tea would be the way to go. We are, to put it simply, high tea kind of people. We appreciate the detail, the china, the decor, the presentation of the food and of course the food itself.

Whilst lovely little Adelaide has several dessert bars, we are lacking traditional, old fashioned tea rooms, which for someone like me and many people I know is very disappointing. Regardless, I posed the question to Google, 'high tea in Adelaide'. He/she shot back a few options for us, however one that stood out was Just Tickled Pink. It looked cute and somewhat old fashioned but in a modern way, if there can be such a thing. I booked us in for high tea, which you should do too as they don't do high tea for walk ins. They do however have a cafe menu too and some incredible looking cupcakes if you are just dropping in.

After I booked I looked at some reviews on the internet; ok, so I did it the wrong way around! It was then I started to get worried, the reviews were very much less than complimentary, it made me nervous.  Those nerves however would not last as when I arrived and walked inside I was transported to another world. The staff were lovely and friendly and when we were seated we were provided a champagne glass of something with some bubbles and berries, it was non alcoholic. We concluded it was some kind of cordial and sparkling water combo. It was nice and refreshing.

The interior of JTP is, as you would expect, predominantly pink. It's not a tacky pink and is nicely done to compliment the interiors of the older shop front in which it resides. Lovers of high ceilings, fancy cornices, pretty archways and ceiling roses wont be disappointed here. The store retains the pretty original features which so many new places lack; I believe they call it 'character'.

I never really got caught up in the Audrey Hepburn hysteria that seemed to sweep through a few years back. All those cheap handbags with a photo of her from Breakfast at Tiffany's, I never owned one and nor did I desire to. Yes, I think she did have a certain way of dressing that was pretty and elegant, but I never saw the hype. Just Tickled Pink could be seen as somewhat of a Hepburn shrine, there are photos everywhere, even a giant screen (the old fashioned room divider) with a huge picture of her face. I found it possibly a little creepy, but maybe that's because I just don't get the appeal of the long gone star of yesteryear. Despite this, she doesn't seem to overtake the rooms completely and the other nick-nacks  and decorations provide enough distraction. There are photographs of the interior on their website, the details of which are at the end of this post.

Our service started with something that I can't name, only describe, as we were never told what it was. It was like a petite omelette garnished with a little smoked salmon and what I assume was a chive creme-freche concoction. Not being told what we were consuming was a little odd however it was yummy and a nice starter. When the tiered stands emerged they looked gorgeous. Again it would have been nice to be provided with a little more detail about what it was we were about to devour. And yes, my gluten intolerant friends, you will be pleased to know they offer a yummy gluten friendly option.

The food was very well presented, with some finger sandwiches even presented in the shape of a high heel shoe! The scones were divine, or so I'm told. There really was an abundance of food and it took us a good hour to pick through about 80% of it. I was glad that I hadn't eaten any lunch as this was lunch and dinner combined. As a plus, they boxed up the treats we were unable consume and we were able to take them home.

As we slowly worked our way through our treats the food for another table came out and it was one of the guests birthday so the staff sung happy birthday for her which I thought was a lovely touch.

On to the tea. As with most of what we ate we weren't told what tea we were drinking, nor did we have a choice. It was most likely English Breakfast, which I didn't mind. It was served from a large silver tea pot into our cute little tea cups. I would have like to have a choice of teas here. Perhaps we could have made a decision and had a little tea pot sitting on our table to pour as we pleased. The focus here was definitely more on the food than the tea.

Overall, Just Tickled Pink was nice and the thing that made our high tea experience great was indeed the company of likeminded friends and some discussion about the finer things in life and life itself. High tea here is $40 per person, one of the most expensive in Adelaide. Whilst I don't believe it was worth the full $40, I would price it at $35 perhaps, I didn't feel 'ripped off' as some other internet reviewers have stated. This may be because my expectations were for a nice celebratory afternoon with  friends, and that expectation was met.

The Verdict

Tea Place: Just Tickled Pink
Location: Unley Road, Hyde Park, Adelaide, South Australia
Contact: Website
Rating: 4/5
Comment: A cute store front, nice atmosphere and yummy food. The downside was the lack of tea and lack of choice of tea. It would also have been nice to be told what we were eating. Overall, a good afternoon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Brush With Royal-tea! Prince of Wales: A Tea Review

I couldn't resist the royal-tea pun after my brush with royalty this past week. It was the first time I have ever seen any members of the royal family and possibly will be the only time. A friend and I battled the crowds of over enthusiastic elderly royal fanatics, one of whom not only stole our spot but then provided everyone in her vicinity with a running commentary of events AND got on the television news. Have I mentioned before that luck doesn't seem to follow me. Anyhow, we saw Prince Charles and Camilla, albeit fleetingly, and I left feeling satisfied enough to be able to say that I've seen some of the Royal Family.

As the royal car approached the cliches began. The rowers started to row down the river and the little river cruise boats positioned themselves for the photos. It was as if they had rounded up every swan from the river and contained them to just the portion they would see. It made me chuckle as I wondered how annoying it must be for them to go everywhere and have everything constantly be a superficial show. Personally, I'd get tired of it very quickly. You couldn't pay me to be a royal. As the car slowly drove past us we had a peek inside and waved to Charles and Camilla. Something amazed me about seeing them in person; they looked better than on television. In fact, Camilla was a very beautiful woman for someone her age. The car pulled up not far from us and they jumped out and straight away started to shake peoples hands, after all they only had 10 minutes to greet around 500 people. We didn't get a hand shake but that didn't matter to us, we had seen the royals!

Now, on to the tea... Twining's produce a popular black tea blend known as Prince of Wales. The tea is not named after Prince Charles the current Prince of Wales but was named and blended for Prince Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales. You might think you have no idea who he is but really you do. Prince Edward VIII became King of England in 1936. He was King for less than a year due to his abdication involving his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. There was a recent film about their relationship, W.E, and they featured, well actors playing them, in the fantastic film The King's Speech. When Edward abdicated that meant his younger brother Albert was to become king, which he did. Our current Queen, Elizabeth II, is the daughter of Prince Albert, later known as King George VI. I should add that Prince of Wales is a title given to the person next in line for the throne, so one day you would imagine this title would go to Prince William.

Twining's blended their Prince of Wales tea in the 1920's. It is a mild black tea blend similar to English Breakfast however has a little more of a bold smooth flavour whereas English Breakfast, I feel, has a slightly sweet and smooth flavour. It is a nice afternoon tea. It is a popular blend and is readily available in the supermarket in both tea bags and loose leaf blends. If you enjoy English Breakfast and want a change without wandering too far then this blend fits the bill. Brew this tea at 100 degrees celsius for 2-4 minutes. If you brew for too long it will become bitter and loose it's smooth flavour.

The Verdict

Tea: Twining's Prince of Wales
Store: Most Supermarkets
Rating: 5/5
Comment: A great afternoon tea and a nice alternative to English Breakfast

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tea Tastes Better in a Pretty Cup!

It's true. I don't know why or how but tea tastes better when you drink it from a pretty cup.

I have a cupboard literally bursting at the hinges full of cups and teapots and I wouldn't have it any other way, however it seems my husband would! I have been banned from buying more cups. So for now all I am allowed to do is look and dream...

If you know a tea lover, perhaps one of these would make the perfect Christmas gift!

Donna Hay for Royal Doulton at David Jones, Waterblossom by Essence at David Jones, Signature Cup by Christina Re

Chantilly Lace, Enchante and Aviary all Cashmere by Maxwell and Williams
Regency Tea Cup and Saucer from Dot Com Gift Shop
Blue, Ivory and Pink Botanical Breakfast Cups from Dot Com Gift Shop

Fleur De Lys, With a Twist and Watercolour Petals tea cup from Anthropologie

Sari tea cup and saucer from T2

Cups and saucers by Pip Studio from Amara

Polka dot cup and saucer from Wedgewood

-  -  -

Anything take your fancy?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Harrods Earl Grey - A Tea Review

I have to admit, I’ve never much been a fan of Earl Grey, the tea that is. Unfortunately I never met the man, he was a British PM in the 1830’s. The origins of the tea are disputed however it is regarded by the Grey family that Twinings were the original mass provider of the blend and yes, it was named after a man called Earl Grey.
Whenever I think of Earl Grey I for some reason see Nigella Lawson and hear her saying ‘citrusy bergamot’ in her sexy cooking voice. What on earth is a ‘citrusy bergamot’! Good question, thanks for asking. Well it turns out a Bergamot is simply a type of orange, grown predominantly in Italy for its oil and not juice, and Earl Grey tea is China black tea infused with the oil from the rind of this orange. It goes a long way in explaining why I’ve never been too fond of the brew, I don’t really like orange flavoured anything.

I can pinpoint the moment where I first developed a dislike of Earl Grey. I was at the house of an acquaintance and she very poorly made me a cup of tea, the unfortunate victim was Earl Grey. The teabag was steeped in that cup for such a long time that by the time the tea touched my lips the flavour was bitter and overly strong. I can remember that when she excused herself to use the bathroom I quickly tiptoed to the kitchen, poured some down the sink and added several spoonfuls of sugar then tiptoed back to the lounge where I continued to drink the hideous beverage under the watchful eyes of my host. I could not have simply poured the whole thing down the drain, that would have been far too obvious.

Fast forward five years and a lovely friend gave me a beautiful mug with a box of Earl Grey’s for my birthday. It was time to try again.
I boiled my kettle and prepared my cup. I placed the tea bag in and poured over the water. I pulled the tea bag out after what could only be described as the longest minute of my life. I wanted to start mildly. The ‘citrusy bergamot’ aroma wafted through the air and to my surprise was actually rather pleasant. Once the tea had cooled I tasted it; to my great surprise it was lovely!
Earl Grey wont replace English Breakfast as my go to black tea but it makes a very nice pick me up.

Where does Earl Grey take me when I close my eyes? Probably not where you’d expect, or maybe it is…

If you guessed riding on top of an elephant in British ruled India with a giant parasol, then you were correct! Maybe it's the spicy citrus flavour that makes me think of Indian food?

The Verdict

Tea: Earl Grey
Shop: Harrods - available instore, online or in Australia at selected David Jones stores
Rating: 4/5 if brewed correctly
Comment: Now we know what ‘citrusy bergamot’ is this tea makes more sense. An uplifting black tea that makes a nice change from the regular black tea blends such as English Breakfast. Steep your teabag for 1-2 minutes for a light and refreshing flavor.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Open to Suggestions...

Whilst I really enjoy writing about tea, tea places and everything in-between, what I'd love to know is what kind of topics you'd like to read about on this blog.

Are there any teas you'd love to try but want to know more about them first?
Want to go to a tea room but don't know that much about it?
Do you want some recipes or ideas for tea party treats?
Would you like more factual and historical tea-ventures?

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you would like to read more of!

~ A

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poured Fondant Cupcakes: A Tea Party Treat

Have you ever wondered how some cupcakes get that smooth glossy icing that looks exactly like this?

Photo credit:

The answer is poured fondant. Unlike rolled fondant, which is generally used to cover large cakes and also cupcakes, poured fondant is quick, relatively easy and if done properly looks lovely. When icing cupcakes with poured fondant it is best to ice them the day you intend to use them as you can't refrigerate them or keep them airtight otherwise the fondant will melt or turn rock hard. Until you use them just store them safely in a container like a cardboard cake box.

To make poured fondant cupcakes you will need a few things to get you started:

  • A packet of white icing, which is also called ready to roll fondant. You can buy it in the supermarket next to icing sugar or from cake supply stores
  • Some cupcakes - you should cover 20-24 with 500g of fondant if you do a double dip, less if you triple dip.
  • A heatproof bowl for microwaving. As my cupcakes are gluten free they don't have a very rounded top, you should use a bowl that will comfortably accommodate your cupcake's top half.
  • Some boiling water and a tea spoon of jam, apricot works best. Dissolve the jam in the boiling water. Mine is in the little chinese tea cup, you don't need much.
  • A pastry brush
  • Food colouring if desired. My cupcakes have some mango in them so I'm going with a yellow icing to match.
What to do:
  1. Place your fondant in to your heatproof bowl and microwave on high for approximately one minute. If you use less  than the whole packet of fondant you may only need 45 seconds initially. Take it out and give it a really good stir around with a metal spoon. At this point you may like to add one or two table spoons of water to thin your icing out a little. Keep stirring and if you find that if you still have some lumps simply pop it back in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Once you have reached your desired consistency, runny but still with substance, a little like warm honey you may like to stir in a few drops of food colouring. It should look like this:

2. Using your pastry brush, dip it into the jam and hot water mixture and glide it across the top of your cupcakes. The reason for this is that the cupcakes very quickly dry out under the fondant. This helps to keep your cupcakes moist 

3: By now your fondant should have cooled a little bit and thickened slightly to a consistency much like room temperature honey, this is good! Just give it a good stir using your metal spoon. Grab one of your cupcakes by the patty pan and hold it upside down. Slowly lower it into your fondant icing just to the edges of your patty pan or cupcake wrapper. Bring it out slowly while giving it a bit of twist while you allow the excess icing to drip off. This is important to do otherwise it will drip down the sides, which doesn't always look that bad but it dependent on how you want to present your cupcakes. Quickly pop any air bubbles with a sharp toothpick.

You will need to double dip your cupcakes for a more opaque finish. I would recommend dipping all your cupcakes once, coming back around 5-10 minutes later and dipping them again. If your fondant has become too hard, simply pop it back in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. Once it has set, around 30-45 minutes later you can push some adornments such as flowers etc into the top or even pipe some decorations with royal icing.

Here are my finished products. Keep in mind that my cupcakes started with flat tops. If yours have round tops they will look different and hopefully a little better. Practice makes perfect and you will find that you perfect your technique with each cake.

Place a dozen of these beautiful cupcakes on a cake stand or cake plate when friends come over for tea and they will be a real hit. Not only are they relatively quick and easy to ice, they look good too.

Play around with colours flavours and adornments to create truly unique cupcakes! Most of all, enjoy devouring them with a lovely cup of tea!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Twinings' Blueberry, Apple and Rosehip: A Tea Review

Twinings have been on a bit of an advertising spree lately promoting their fruit and herbal blends. As the weather warms up we do tend to favour fruit and herbal teas more so today I have road tested just for you their Blueberry, Apple and Rosehip fruit infusion. I should probably add that fruit teas also make great iced tea drinks and are just as nice blended with some sparkling water if you want something a little bit fancier.

The blueberry blend, like the majority of Twinings fruit infusions incorporates hibiscus as a key ingredient. On its own hibiscus tea has a rather tart flavour but is nice when sweetened, similar to cranberries. If you are pregnant you should avoid teas containing hibiscus as it is not a pregnancy friendly food!

With sweetener this tea is delightful, on its own its a little tart. As soon as the water hits the tea bag a beautiful fragrance is released that kind of reminds me of freshly baked apple and berry pie. My tea place for this cup of tea is a pretty garden on a spring day with said pie, of course!

The best thing, in my opinion, about the range of Twinings fruit infusions is that they come in very affordable boxes of 10 teabags. This is great because you can try a few flavours to find your favourite or have a range of teas for yourself depending on how you are feeling. Another added bonus for me, maybe not so for others, is that these teas are caffeine free. So if, like me, you are trying to lower your caffeine intake, this is a great place to start.

The Verdict

Tea: Twinings' Blueberry, Apple and Rosehip Fruit Infusion
Store: Most supermarkets
Rating: 4/5
Comment: A little tart for my sweet tastes however this is remedied with a little sweetener. Caffeine free, refreshing and with the option of being a nice iced tea. A nice spring blend.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Aviary Dessert Kitchen: A Tea Place Review

Over the last 12-18 months the popularity of dessert cafes has risen steadily, probably in direct correlation to the supply. These usually cute, quirky places seem to pop up over night and develop cult like followings. Some are better that others though and The Aviary on Norwood Parade, Adelaide is now high on my list of places to go for a sweet treat and a delightful cup of tea.

First, lets talk about the tea. One of the things I love about this place is the fact they use teas by Australian company Tea Tonic. Tea Tonic produce divine herbal, fruit and green teas. Stay tuned for future tea reviews of Tea Tonic teas. These teas are predominantly organic to suit the ever growing demand for organics in this country and are actually blended by a naturopath. They claim to be Australia's healthiest teas.

My dining buddy and I ordered and shared a pot of Apple Tree Tea. This refreshing fruity blend is predominantly apple pieces. So keen to try to deliciously scented brew was my buddy, the tea was poured before it had been given enough time to brew. Fruits and herbal teas need a little longer than black and green teas for the flavours to truly shine. Regardless, this was still such a refreshing treat. I loved that they presented our tea in a green pot with green cups.

In addition to Tea Tonic they also stock a selection of Marriage Fr`eres teas, boutique teas imported from France. This covers you more than well if you are searching for a nice black tea or a premium green tea.

The Aviary, like most dessert cafes has a seasonal menu and they introduce new items on a regular basis. What appealed to me most was the fact that they also clearly indicate which of their items are gluten friendly (GF) or diary free, and there were plenty of choices. Now I know GF means gluten free but like most places as they have gluten containing products in their kitchen they can't guarantee there won't be cross contamination but they try their best. This is why I use the term gluten friendly! They are happy to have gluten intolerant diners and accommodate them! Their current menu can be found on their website.

I ordered the 'a-lychee in wonderland'. The floral lychee, raspberry and vanilla jelly, macaron ‘mushroom’ and turkish delight were served with a tangy but refreshing mangosteen sorbet and tufts of persian fairy floss. It was to die for. No photo I could take of this adorable presentation would do it justice. The flavours all came together so well. This was the first time I had eaten pashmak, persian fairy floss, and it really was nice. It had a soft, melt in your mouth texture, unlike the grainy clumps you get with regular fairy floss. A special touch was the inclusion of a sprinkle of popping candy through the pieces of meringue and turkish delight. Trust me, it tasted even better than it looked, a perfect balance of textures and flavours.

My dessert buddy ordered the Chocolate Pecking Plate which was a tasting plate of flour-less chocolate cake, fresh belgian waffle with chocolate sauce and a chocolate raspberry mousse pot. There is no photo of this one because it was gone before the camera was ready! The signature dessert here is the Macaron Flower Pot and although we didn't try one, they certainly looked delicious.

This is such a popular place and it's easy to see why. Not only is the food to die for, the surroundings are cute and the service is friendly, efficient and attentive - that is something that is unfortunately becoming less common these days. If you want to visit I strongly recommend giving them a call and booking a table, the phone number is on the website.

The Verdict

Tea Place: The Aviary Dessert Kitchen. Norwood Parade, Adelaide, Australia
Rating: 5/5
Comment: A great range of teas to complement every delicious menu item. Great service and a great atmosphere. Check the website for the latest menu and make sure you call to book a table.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gorgeous Geisha: A Tea Review

I strongly believe that every cup of tea you savour should take you on a journey. With each sip, as you close your eyes, you should be transported somewhere, albeit momentarily, so you can relax and escape.

Gorgeous Geisha, a green tea blend from T2, has me on a plane and plonked at a hanami faster than imaginably possible.  And a hanami is a cherry blossom viewing party.

My fantasy place kind of looks like this...

Gorgeous Geisha is a blend of sencha, a Japanese green tea where the leaves are not ground. If you look into the tea bag you can see the little leaves in there all curled up and then you can watch them unfurl when you add water. I’m a big fan of being able to see what I’m drinking. What makes this tea special is its combination of the sencha with freeze dried strawberry pieces. When the hot water hits those strawberries the aroma is incredible. The last ingredient is ‘cream flavouring’ and we don’t get much more info than that apart from that the tea may contain traces of lactose. T2’s Stawberry and Cream blend contains little yoghurt pieces, which makes me wonder if that’s what is in this one.

There’s no denying that this is a sweet green tea and is a perfect blend for spring and summer as it also makes a great iced tea. It’s delightful aroma and harmonious, not subtle but not too strong, blend of flavours make for a ‘gorgeous’ cup.

I buy my Geisha in tea bags, which are fantastic triangular infuser pods, however you can buy it loose leaf. T2 has an online store or you can visit the real thing by checking locations on their website but be warned, you will spend far more than you intend!

The Verdict

Tea: Gorgeous Geisha: Green Tea with Strawberries and Cream
Shop: T2
Rating: 5/5 if brewed correctly.
Comment: Perfect light, fruity and fragrant blend for the warmer months. Leave it brewing for too long and your sweet blend turns into a bitter punnet of squashed sour berries. To avoid this brew at 75-85 degrees celsius for 2-3 minutes.