I guess if you can't have tea at the Ritz, on Picadilly, then tea at the Ritz Carlton, Jalan Imbi, is the next best thing, especially when peppered with the company of good friends, AND on a weekday afternoon. It's the life that tai tais were born for, and alas, we can only have a foretaste of this life every now and then.
That dashing young lad from the Ritz Carlton, British too, Oliver Ellerton, asked our motley crew over for a tea tasting, by Ronnefeldt Teas. Of course, we started practising our pinky waving and the propah way of holding the tea cup and saucer, and did the requisite Eliza Doolittle "How kind of you to let me come" in propah diction. And in Hertford Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.
We are ushered from the plush lounge to a private table, and are greeted by Andreas Aufmkolk of Ronnefeldt who very kindly acts as our "lecturer" for the day. Now, the first surprise is, Ronnefeldt is NOT British, as you would think tea producers are. They're actually German. Andreas goes on to explain the history of tea, which I think unanimously the legends start somewhere in China, with an Emperor discovering it by accident or some variation of that story. He then goes into the technicalities of teas, the different grades, different methods of production, different colors...they're quite human, really, tea leaves, they have black, yellow and white... and even red. (the fruit teas anyway).
Very boardroom style of having tea, with the Chairman at the helm. He patiently explains each different tea as they come along, and suggest the food with which they are to be paired.
For a detailed history and types of tea, please refer to the newly appointed tea walking wikipedia, Ms Ciki of Cumi & Ciki, at her blog site HERE.
No reason to reinvent the wheel by regurgitating what she has already articulated so well. But to summarise, the great and famous tea growing regions in the world are Assam, Darjeeling, in India, then there's Ceylon (aka Sri Lanka) ...then there's of course Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Oomph.
A lavish tea spread in true English Afternoon Tea Style accompanies the various teas. Scones with clotted cream, eclairs, cucumber sandwiches, etc.
Larverly profiteroles, and larverly background.
The aroma lingers on the brewed tea leaves. I felt tempted to put them over my eye lids for relaxation.
Clotted cream that makes your heart go .... ARGHHHHHHH....
The final tally. Teas that were served were (clockwise from left top)-
Darjeeling Summer Gold - A black tea, though the name does not necessarily reflect the color of the brew. The brew is a gorgeous light golden color. Hails from the Mahanadi Valley India.
The High Grown Ceylon - Grown in Nuwara Elya (above the clouds) in Ceylon, it is a delightfully light but yet fragrant tea. My favourite of the lot.
Irish Whisky Cream - Another black tea, with guess what? A natural whisky flavour. Isnt that amazing. Thats like alcohol-less whisky. Lovely, but not for me. It's cruel, tantalizing me like that.
Fancy Sencha - A green tea, very chinese, and very drinkable.
Jasmine Gold - Very chinese tea like. Palatable, and seemed to go well with the savouries.
Herbs & Ginger - I love this non-tea tea, an ayuverdic blend of ginger, verbana,very refreshing, and I suspect wind repelling. (though we wouldn't say that in polite company).
Soft Peach - another infusion, with no real tea leaves. Very feminine.
The bad news is, Ronnefeldt teas are NOT available retail. So you can't just get them off a shelf in the supermarket. BUT the good news is, the Ritz Carlton serves them, and not just the few we had, but a whole astounding variety.
It was a lovely afternoon, and Mr Ellerton, how kind of you to let us come.