Mariage Frères - Sencha Midori


If you asked me to choose between tea or coffee, I would instantly go for tea no doubt. My first sip of tea would probably be when I was little (at a age where I started to eat solid food)? Most likely to be going for dim sum (yum cha) with parents. I remember everytime I went to my grandparents' or relatives', they served tea in the traditional way "gongfu tea" Chinese tea ceremony. It is just fascinating watching the tea being brewed and poured out into tiny teacups. But it's not until later in life when I went into university that I started to fell head-long into a deep involvement in tea and tea culture. 

Rasberry Ripple Ice Cream Tub Cupcake and
Chocolate & Toffee Honeycomb Ice Cream Tub Cupcake from Waitrose
Class: Green Tea, Ryokucha
Origin: Japan
Year: Unknown
Vendor: Mariage Frères
Price: £25/100g
Ratings: 3.5/5

The infused leaves has a great fresh, plant and seaweed aroma. It could be my imagination or pure coincidence, but this tea has consistently tasted better when brewed in a Gaiwan or a Kyusu than the big tea pot. The choice of tea wares used does affect the taste of tea.

Recommendation of brewing: 
"Measure out 5 g of tea for 200 ml of pure, filtered water. Bring the water to a simmer (about 70° C) and let the tea infuse for 3 minutes."

The first infusions' liqour is bright yellow/green colour and quite clear and pure. It has a mellow taste and a hint of bitterness towards at the very end. The second infusion has a nice consistency of taste but the third (and last) infusion was flat and lost its roundness. The shop assistant did recommended me to brew it for two infusions only.

Bright Courtyard Club 煌庭, London


Once in a while, I would have a sudden craving for dim sum. Especially cheong fun (rice noodle roll), which is by far one of my firm favourite of dim sum dishes. But sadly living in UK, it is hard to find a place that does really good cheong fun. The best that I have had is in Hong Kong, Hop Yip Tai (合益泰小食) located in Sham Shui Po. The cheong fun were incredibly silky and smooth when they are freshly made.

I have always heard that the Chinese restaurants on Baker Street does some of the best dim sum in London. Since always going to Chinatown for dim sum, I wanted to go somewhere different this time and mostly due to laziness of living close to Baker Street. How have I not had dim sum yet on Baker Street? Bright Courtyard  was startlingly posh, different to most Chinese restaurants it was hushed but bright. A la carte menu is on a iPad, but we were here for dim sum.

Beef Cheong Fun

Persevered Eggs and Pork Congee

Turnip Crispy Puff

Scallop and Spinach Dumplings

Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao

Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce

Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)

Without tea, the term "yum cha" wouldn't exist. It literally means drinking tea. It's a Chinese term for morning/afternoon tea, which involves drinking tea and eating dim sum dishes. I was impressed by their extensive tea menu which isn't something you get in most local Chinese restaurants. Our chosen tea for the meal was 'Tie Guan Yin' which I found it lacks the complex taste.

The beef cheong fun was good, but I found the layer of rice noodle a tad too thick. Xiao long bao could possibly be one of the best I had in London, it held their broth and the skin were thin. I liked the turnip crispy puff, it was crispy and the filling was flavoursome. Other classics such as cha siu bao, chicken feet and  scallop dumplings passed muster. Although the one relative let down was the side chopped up youtiao (Chinese fried dough stick) that came with the congee. By re-frying the youtiao, it lost its freshness and the texture becomes hard.

Dim sum like this doesn't come cheap with prices of individual dishes starting at around the £3.50 mark. Slightly more expensive than the average restaurants in Chinatown. For the quality and atmosphere it is worth it. The food is well executed and the service is friendly and pleasant. Next time I'd explore the a la carte menu.

Score Rating: 3/5
Price: Roughly £25/head including tea and service,

Bright Courtyard on Urbanspoon
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The 'Edible Garden' Afternoon Tea at InterContinental Westminster, London


To celebrate the 101 years of floral festival "The Chelsea Flower Show" which was held in May, InterContinental Westminster have created an exquisite "Edible Garden" themed afternoon tea in partnership with Laurent-Perrier champagne. So 3 weeks ago, I had the most amazing afternoon tea experience that left me and Mr T who accompanied me so buzzing. And since this is all to celebrate the Chelsea Flower show, you will also be treated to free flowing champagne. You haven't read it wrong, yes, free flowing champagne. Not more can you complain.

Afternoon tea was served in the lounge with floral displays reflecting the Chelsea Flower show. Alongside the regular tea choices, there was also speciality selection of hand-crafted flower teas. But for two tea lovers, floral teas wouldn't do us justice. I opted for the vintage raw puerh and Mr T opted for pre-rain dragon well supreme. Check out that amazing sliver plated teapot.

Not a single moment were our glasses empty with champagne, the waiters replenished regularly. Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne isn't the best but don't be silly to fill up on it. What looks good also tasted as good or even better. 

Firstly we were treated to a selection of savoury treats, created using the best of British seasonal ingredients. The first plate consisted of avocado & baby vegetable shot, garden pea &basil tart, miniature eggs benedict and smoked chicken & tarragon teardrop. I didn't get to try the mini eggs benedict as Mr T took it but with it had a little quails egg perched on top looking ever so fine.

The second plate consisted of smoked salmon roulade on rye bread, delicate goat cheese & tomato with cheddar shortbread and roast beef & horseradish on beetroot bread. All the nibbles was enjoyable, original and fresh - both in concept and taste.

A tradition dictates we moved on to the scones. It was served alongside with the savoury treats and I'm fussy about scones. It needs to light, fluffy and warm; which ticks all the boxes. Lavender infused scones complemented by rose infused strawberry cream and clotted cream. A little less tradition were the mini Chelsea buns reflecting the theme accompanied by lemon curd. 

Finally came the show piece, the glasshouse! It imitated a green house with the beautiful edible garden sitting inside it. The desserts were works of art. Every moments before the glass cloche is lifted will have you gasping 'Whoa'!

The garden featured edible soil which tasted mostly of chocolate but also had dried olives. It houses a lemon box hedge, raspberry meringue pie, Laurent-Perrier strawberry champagne bubble, crushed violet macaroon and chocolate pebbles. All the cakes were gorgeous, light and not overly sweet. My favourite was the macaroon, it was just stunning.

Overall, this has to be one of the best afternoon tea me and Mr T have ever had. The concept was unique and there wasn't an element that we can fault or not liking it. The service was flawless, entertainment was great with live harp music playing and the food is outstanding. Cannot highly recommend it enough.

Score Rating: 4.5/5
Price: £44 with free flowing Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne and is available until 30th June

The Lounge (InterContinental London Westminster) on Urbanspoon
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