The other week I attended a tea tasting class co-hosted by Francois-Xavier Delmas of Le Palais des Thés (who flew in from France just for the occasion!) and Melanie Franks from the French Culinary Institute. Does Melanie’s name sound familiar? It should! She prepared this entire First, Cynthia Gold, author of the Culinary Tea cookbook. I first met Cynthia at the World Tea East when I attend her Culinary Tea Seminar. It was a class for small business owners (cafes, tea shops) who wish to incorporate tea into their menu. And not just for drinking. But for salads, soups, pastas, etc. The class was literally like her book come to life – and that is a good thing. I saw Cynthia again at a The first half of this tea class was conducted by Francois-Xavier Delmas – the founder of Le Palais des Thés, one of my companies. They’ve been around since 1987 and all their teas come directly from the source/grower, so no third party or wholesaler is ever involved. And though it seems like this is how it always should be…you’d be surprised to learn how many companies purchase teas in bulk from the same wholesalers. A little disturbing actually, but we’ll save that talk for another day. Every industry has a dirty underbelly, tea included. Which is why when you find a good company you can trust, stick with it!
Francois-Xavier walked us through a tasting of the following five teas:
1. Long Jing – Also known as “Dragon Well.” From Zhejiang, China.
2. Tamaryokucha Imperial - Japanese green tea from the island of Kyushu.
3. Dong Ding – Oolong from Taiwan (this tea also pairs well with quiche)
4. Darjeeling Thurbo – Darjeeling from India
5. Qimen Imperial – Comes from Huangshan in the Anhui province (where we After the five teas, Melanie did a demo on how to prepare this dish of Tea-Cured Trout with Tea-Smoked Yogurt. It was actually the exact same dish as the one she served at the tea dinner, only plated a little different. This was actually my favorite dish from the dinner, so learning how to make it was a real treat. Here are the components:
1. Tea-Cured Arctic Char. She used trout for the dinner and arctic char this time around. You can use any white fish or salmon. Cure the fish in a 2:1:1 ratio mix of salt:brown sugar: lapsang souchong.
2. Tea-Smoked Yogurt. Make a tea-infused oil first by heating up a neutral oil (corn, grapeseed, canola), adding the loose leaf lapsang souchong. Remove from heat immediately and then let infuse for 15 minutes before straining out the tea leaves. Blend a bit of the oil with Greek yogurt.
3. Niçoise Olives
4. Cippolini Onions
5. Micro Greens
6. Citrus Segments (orange, lemon)
7. Garlic Chips
Plan to recreate this dish at home soon, so will make sure to do a step by step post.
Finishing on sweets and cheese of course. A wedge of Fontina and Humbolt Fog to pair with cups of Sencha. The cookie is a Chocolate-Hojicha Cookie. When most people do tea cookies, it’s usually a matcha cookie, so this was a very fun change. Melanie grinds up hojicha in a spice grinder and uses the ground hojicha to replace most of the flour in this recipe. It’s impossible to not get excited about infusing tea into everything from salads, meats, sweets, and soup…the possibilities are endless!