Tag Archives: tea

Tea Tales & Winter food

Winters are somehow all about indulgence. Given the weather when the temperature drops, one can getaway by giving in to one’s guilty pleasures. More calories are needed to generate body heat, we are told, so we all gladly embark upon that task. Sadly, Mumbai does not gift us real winters, yet, we unabashedly gorge on some winter delicacies.

Another thing which is synonymous for everyone with winters, is a hot brew-tea or coffee. I love my tea and  when a winter menu is about tea and food, naturally I am ecstatic.

Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House (TMTH) has curated a new Winter Menu, using the most exotic and fresh produce of the season.  TMTH has handpicked season’s popular ingredients and created an interplay of flavours to intrigue the diner’s taste buds.

Irresistible this sounded, so I set about to explore it one evening.

As I settled in, I discovered each item on the cleverly crafted menu, was aptly complemented by one of their signature tea blends.

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The falafel chaat arrived on the table and was paired with  a pink guava and kaffir lime tea. The tangy chaat with palate-teasing flavours, was delightful. After a sip of the light tea, the flavours came alive with a vengeance. I was off to a good start.

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Next was the salad with paneer and the tea to go along, was a delicate Oriental Jasmine and rose. A unique blend of the East and West- a romantic tea, which uplifts your mood instantly. It did just that. It perked my taste buds and I found myself enjoying the hearty and crunchy salad even more.

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Teas being paired with every course, I thought was an exciting thing to do in order to enhance the dining experience. And it really worked wonders.

Risotto infused with Sambar was served next but the watered down version did not entice me enough. The silver needle and berries tea paired with it though, took me by surprise. Fruity and flavourful, it was comforting all the way and yet, added zest to my palate with its intoxicating flavours. Who needs wine with teas like this around?

The Idly Crust with Pomfret was the piece de resistance. Fresh fluffy soft fish with a delectable crust was a treat for the taste buds.

What can I say about the matcha semifreddo. It bore ample testimony to Chef’s mastery over his craft. The matcha tea flavours, lend themselves seamlessly to this dessert and in fact enhanced the taste. Layers of Matcha cream and cake covered with grilled almond slivers and served with chocolate sauce. Truly decadent. Paired with the robust mocha tea this course was truly memorable. Assam chai with a rich coffee cream crown and finished with cracked roasted coffee beans. Whew! I had tasted nothing like this ever before.

There is Chai cheese cake tart too, for dessert lovers, which I have to head back to try.

This menu is truly innovative and offers something for every palate. A special treat for the Vegans is using the winter staple Ragi in a contemporary Vegetable Quiche. Vegetarians can relish the Multigrain Hari Matar Burger, while carnivores will enjoy the Baked Irani Lamb Kheema – Aubergine parceled shells baked with lamb kheema inspired by Dhansak flavor and glazed with Béchamel sauce, among others.

I left the place with a smile as the manner in which teas had been paired with food,  especially the fish course was a true revelation. And I had sampled the very best of teas and food. It does not get any better than this. Winters had set in for me this evening, and I was not complaining.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nirvana with Teavana

Coffee maybe the beverage you generally step into Starbucks, but things will change hereon. The introduction of Starbucks Teavana beverages, spells good news for tea lovers like me. A good well-made cuppa of this brew is something I have always relished and appreciated. Reluctant to experiment with my cuppa, I stepped into Starbucks with trepidation.

But these range of teas from Starbucks are offerings which are modern and yet, appeal to every tea lover’s palate. Me included. It truly is an unimaginable experience, that is why perhaps they call it ‘reimagined’.

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A range of 18 distinct tea offerings including an Indian signature tea, iced teas, brewed hot teas and tea lattes with bold, layered flavours, is what once can look forward to. Inspired by the rich Indian tea legacy, Starbucks Teavana collaborated with Tata Global Beverages Ltd. to create this signature innovation.

While I enjoyed all the offerings, it was the invigorating blend of full leaf Assam black tea with rich spice infusion of whole cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, star anise and ginger, rightly called the India Spice Majesty Blend, that bowled me over completely. It perked me up instantly and filled me with warmth on this somewhat wintry evening.

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In addition to the signature innovation, customers can experience global Starbucks Teavana favorites including Youthberry white tea, Hibiscus Herbal Infusion, as well as the limited time handcrafted offerings from Starbucks – Matcha & Espresso Fusion, Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit and Honey and Iced Shaken Hibiscus with Pomegranate Pearls.

These floral and fruity infusions are light and delightful, rejuvenating you completely and can even appeal to those who are not otherwise too fond of tea.

Drinks for the festive season

The spirits during this season are high and there isn’t any reason, why we can’t enjoy the festive season, without consuming any spirits. Is that possible? Of course it is… in fact, there are plenty of delightful seasonal beverages that can help you ring in the yuletide festivities without compromising on your desire to go alcohol free or risking the fact of getting drowned in alcohol.

If you want to sample a few of my favourites, to keep you cheery, check out this quick menu.
Cinnamon Laced Double Chocolate: Make a cup of deluxe hot cocoa, dissolve a piece of bitter chocolate cube to give the added double chocolate effect and sprinkle with powdered Cinnamon.
Hot Toddy with apple cider: In a pan combine apple cider, cinnamon, star anise and cloves, bring to boil. Remove from heat and allow the spices to steep for 10-15 minutes, strain spices stir in honey till dissolved serve with sliced apples, lemon, cinnamon sticks and star anise.
Spiced tea: In a big mug place tea bag and honey, add enough boiling water to fill the mug add cinnamon and lemon, steep for 3 minutes and remove bag, sprinkle lightly with nutmeg and serve.
Virgin Fruit Muddle: Take a bowl full of diced mixed winter fruits, muddle them, add half cup of orange juice, a dash of lime, and top it with room temperature Apple Juice. Serve in a beer glass or brandy balloon.  
If you are out on the streets you could try the many variants of Café Coffee Days’ Magical brews.
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And if you neither want to take the trouble of making your own brews that I offered nor do you want to step out at Café Coffee Day’s offerings, you could try the four variants of Gold Fogg’s latest offering, which includes: The Gold Fogg Energy Drink, Mish Mash – Fruit Kiss made of apple, strawberry, mango, peach, guava, grape and passion fruit all packed in one.
So compliments of the season and go on for a non-alcoholic drinking spree !

Chai, Teas & More……

A cuppa tea is welcome anytime for a tea lover like me. Can never resist a well-made one and when it is in a great ambience, even better. The newly opened Tea Trails at Vile Parle, close to the station, offered the perfect excuse to make trip there. India’s first chain of Tea Cafés which serves carefully curated range of the finest Teas & Eats  had after all launched their 11th outlet.

The inside area of the cafe is bright and cheerful, well-lit with high ceilings. It exudes a warmth which is so unpretentious. There is an outdoor seating area too, which is perfect at this time of the year.

The outlet  is characterized by its specialty teas, loose leaves, custom blends, mindful tea preparation and sourcing, equipment and tea-related paraphernalia, new approaches to the tea service, and new ways to experience tea.

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The menu is exhaustive as far as the tea and chai offerings are concerned. Indian teas, herbal teas, kulhad chai, floral and fragrant teas. Something for every tea lover’s palate. The specialty teas include Smokey Chinese Lapsang Souchong and the South African Red among several others.

The eats are exciting too and quirky. We tried the Eggs Kejriwal, with fried and fluffy eggs served wrapped on a pav. A filling snack and boasted of the quintessential Mumbai flavour but the chewy pavs diluted the effect. Should have been toasted or grilled.

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The samosa thauk I thought was unique and the gravy in which the samosas were immersed was tangy and delicious. The Teazza – pizza with tea herbs was delightful and a good example of innovation.

Vegetarian dishes is what this cafe offers . but there is a lot of variety. It also serves some egg dishes.

The teas are delectable and served by the well-informed staff. The fruity infusion I tried was comforting. Although I felt, the teas are a wee bit overpriced for that quantity.

The staff is warm and friendly and the service unobtrusive.

Overall,  the decor  in black and green, is inspired from their theme “a cup of life” and is replete with a modern, vibrant and friendly vibe. This is certainly the perfect place to relax and unwind over a cup of tea.

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

 

 

Not My Cuppa Tea!

Today, Atithi Devo Bhava (The guest is equivalent to God), a code of conduct in the Indian society, acquired a new meaning. Wagh Bakri Tea, the Ahmedabad headquartered, brew giant, redefined it.

I was invited to the opening of their new Tea lounge in Juhu at 11 am. Punctual by nature, I landed up at 11 am sharp, as I never like to keep any one waiting and abhor the same too. There was no one at the gate and a guard rudely accosted me asking me where I was heading. Upon mentioning media, he just nodded. I made my way into the lounge. No one there too, to guide or welcome us. A gentleman was seated at the table talking to a lady, I introduced myself. They were apparently from the company, but nonchalant, immersed in themselves.

Tired of standing for a long time, I took a seat. There was no sign of the young ladies from the PR agency and at Wagh Bakhri  of course, no one knew what was happening. I kept observing, bloggers, media persons coming in, feeling unwelcome, as the company personnel continued to look confused. No tea was offered. So what if we had braved the Friday morning showers and made our way to the Juhu venue? Nothing till “Sir” comes, was being murmured in hushed tones.

Half an hour elapsed, but there was no sign of anything starting. Meanwhile, eunuchs came, demanded money, the Wagh Bakri person replied, “nothing can be given till the Seth arrives and the inauguration is done.” Where then was the Seth aka Parag Desai, CEO Wagh Bakri, for whom, we were all supposedly waiting. Of course nothing was communicated to us, lesser mortals about His Highness’ arrival and the consequent delay.

Balloons were being put, the floor being swept, fans switched off. So what if we guests were sweating it out? We were inconsequential. We mattered the least to Wagh Bakri. The preparations of the event were well underway after  the invitees were there. Huh?

Minutes later we were unceremoniously shunted to the lobby of a small hotel next door and made to huddle up in the stinky lobby. If the company staff and others could be inside, on the other side of the red ribbon, why couldn’t we? Why were we invited in the first instance, if it was meant to be a company/ internal affair. Inaugurate it, settle down and then invite media some other day. You can’t have the best of both worlds and that too when you have no idea about hospitality ?

I was at the end of my tether. Called the PR lady who had just arrived. I stood out in the sun waiting. She tried to cajole me assuring me, saying it would start soon. His Highness had not yet arrived, after all, so how could it begin. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, were what we were being told repeatedly. Till 12 noon, nothing happened. Of course my patience wore off and I left, with a promise never to return again. Thank you, but no thank you, this is not Indian hospitality and if this is what Wagh Bakri stands for, I’d rather have nothing to do with their ilk future. Not my cup of tea, this!

A Sublime Experience

There is nothing more comforting than a cup of tea. Brewed to perfection of course.

I was excited when my colourful bag from Sublime House of Tea arrived with a bright red coloured box offering an array of exotic brews. I could not wait to sip those.

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Seventh Heaven, Wellness Brew and Green Long Ding, which are extremely sought-after across the world were flavours I was going to sip at home. And that too as tea bags, convenience personified.

What I like is that Sublime’s portfolio of fine tea presents a mix of the classical, the popular and the avant-garde. From sought after bouquets such as Green Tea, Assam Tea and English Breakfast to intriguing localised brews like Moroccan Mint, and Seventh Heaven, eclectic admixtures like White Tea with Raspberry and the complex flavours of herbal tisanes like Rose in Bloom and Chamomile, there is a tea to suit every palate and occasion. I am fussy about my teas and found Sublime teas could please me with ease.

I brewed my Rose in bloom with care. Oh! the pyramid tea bag as against the normal filter paper ones, made a world of difference.

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I could see the water in my cup change colour as a mellow hue was imparted to it and yes, I could get the aroma of rose petals too.

The Seventh Heaven actually transported me to the same place. It rejuvenated me completely serving as a balm for my tired nerves.

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‘Sublime House of Tea’ is promoted by the Prestige Group and Sublime Galleria. Naturally then, one can be sure of the quality.

I have always been an avid tea drinker being from Kolkata and today tea is being touted to have a host of health benefits too. Apart from an evening cup of tea, I enjoy a cup after dinner too and the range from Sublime House of Tea is just right for a cup, last thing at night to relax me before going to bed. There are many flavours waiting to be tried as the box contains several tea bags.

So which flavour shall it be tonight? Moroccan Mint perhaps?

 

 

Any Time is Tea Time

Winter and tea are quite synonymous aren’t they? Well, for me, anytime is tea time, as I love tea or chai or chaha or cha, as we call it in different parts of India. Can have endless cups in a day. But yes, it has to be brewed or steeped perfectly. My morning cuppa is critical. No one is allowed to mess with that.

We Indians seem to have rediscovered the second most consumed beverage in the world. We all grew up having chai- a thick, milky brew infused with ginger and spices and boiled for a long time. At one time, a basic masala chai was all we knew. Now, we are spoilt for choice.

I fortunately grew up to the ‘champagne of brews’- Darjeeling tea, in West Bengal. Kolkata to be precise. The musky scent and floral fragrance of Darjeeling tea, spells magic for  me, even today. It perks me up instantly.

But as in the case of food, people nowadays are in the mood to be adventurous and experiment with teas too. Taste buds have opened up, and thus a plethora of unusual flavours can be seen making their way into homes from store shelves.

 

Speciality teas are now the ‘in’ thing. People have taken to drinking flavoured  and several exotic teas. Earl grey has always been the most sought after, lightly flavoured tea but now, the repertoire has expanded. White teas to calm and de-stress oneself are also picking up, albeit a bit expensive.

Tea service at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar

Flavoured teas are created by adding fruits, spices, flowers or natural flavours to black, oolong or green teas depending on the flavours that complement the tea. Flavours like vanilla, orange, passion fruit or berries are very popular.

 

Taste apart, health is an important factor and that’s why green tea has rapidly caught the fancy of urban India. Consumed without sugar, Green tea relaxes us instantly and boasts of several health benefits.

I love some of the teas at Tea Culture of the World.  Generally frequent their outlet at Hypercity, Malad. Established by Dr. Rupali Ambegaonkar, TAC Tea Sommelier, a former medical practitioner, as an endeavor to cater to the palates of modern Indian tea aficionados, this place offers some of the finest, most exotic and rare teas from around the world in the Indian market.

Tea rooms and tea houses are becoming fashionable now. These are mushrooming in each city and Mumbai is no exception. May their tribe increase. But of course a well made cutting chai at a road side tapri is equally refreshing.

But the ritual of tea drinking if elaborate, pleases me no end. No wonder, I love the tea service at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. It elevates the tea drinking experience completely.

Now I need a cup of tea for sure. Have a large collection, so need to pick an apt one for this weather.