We were aimless in the mall for lunch yesterday.
People are usually aimless in the mall- you think you go to a mall for a reason but most times I feel empty after and usually find out what I went to get is available somewhere outside for cheaper and better- I really don’t understand people who dress up and go to the mall like it’s an occasion.
Don’t worry, my one track mind can only veer from food for no more than 20 seconds.
I remembered in my restaurant-brainstorm I had not visited the new TWG Tea Salon & Boutique underneath the forever-diving men (you have to see them, to know them). It’s listed under TWG (The Wellness Group- nothing to do with Twinings) in the mall and on the net, the salons have been dotted and spotted around the world- of course Dubai could not be left out.
I am so glad I decided to go!
The place is a tea haven, and for someone who doesn’t really drink coffee, I now understand what it’s like to walk into a coffee shop! Hundreds of types of tea! Pure teas, special teas, tea blends, teapots, tea cups, tea, tea, TEA!
But the excitement didn’t stop there.
We sat down and were amazed at the amount of food and desserts also available. My friend was a bit lost in choice so we took a while to order, and it gave me time to really look through the tea menu.
There is normal a la carte, a variety of high tea menus, a tea time a la carte, a dinner menu, a dessert menu, a macaroon menu… even with all this selection, I didn’t lose focus and of course went for the High Tea Imperial:
It came with croque imperial, hot scones, macaroons, salad, we cheekily ordered an additional mille feuille…and I also had: Tea N.13
I drink a lot of tea, and am a big Dilmah and Lipton fan. Lipton for its wide availability and consistency, and Dilmah for the fact it is the only tea in the world that is harvested and packaged immediately after blending. It is also the only tea in the world to have one source, not a mix of teas from who-knows-where, but all from their Dilmah garden in Sri Lanka. Beautiful tea.
Looking through the TWGmenu, I was skimming through all the normal wow-and-how names (English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchang), the eye-catchers (Paris English Breakfast, Maharaja tea, Geisha Tea-?). Anyways, I was expecting the same same.
Until I saw a quiet section that was called ” The Numbered Tea’s “.
I love mystery, so asked what they were, and after a bit of arm waving, and ums, and ers and page turning (menu also comes with a tea guide), we found a long page that were special TWG blends of their grands cru teas. Not more expensive than normal (like the chinese tea that cost 213dhs a pot), but the detail and attention to the tea mixes of this list was very interesting. It really was a reflection of the know-how of TWG, whose master tea blending is sometimes lost in people who just know their little packets.
TWG tea house was established in Singapore when Thailand was still known as Siam (that’s a long time ag0). The influx of tea from Thailand, China and Celebes greatly made Singapore an important trading center, for much more than tea, but it is the main port that is credited for bringing tea to tables around the world, making TWG truly a part of tea history.
Before I start talking about tea, I need to bash a myth and answer a question I have been asked too many times in my life: Teas do not all come from the same plant.
This is not only impossible, it is illogical. Some plants do not grow in other countries and how would people all over the world, look at one specific plant and decide to make it tea?
There is a plant that produces a lot of tea, the Camelia Sinensis, but it does not produce them all. It is a very sensitive area that a lot of commercial tea-makers choose to preach, as it makes the marketing easier, but in truth a lot of teas are sent in from around the world from a lot of different plants producing different blends (unlike Dilmah), and it is physically impossible to ascertain its root from one plant.
Anyways, I digress.
N.13 was a miraculous blend. It is described so:
A floral marvel, this black tea is a promenade through a secret garden, with pure notes of Provencal lavender, vines of Arabian jasmine and sweet notes of vanilla and spice.
I did not expect what arrived at my table. The tea was light, with the heaviness of English Breakfast but a hint of sweet lavender and spices that came more as an aroma rather than a sweetness to the tongue.
I bought the biggest pack available.
The high tea was really delicious, the croque imperial was fluffy and warm, the scones hot and crumbling in your mouth, and the mille fueille was crispy and not weighed down by the light vanilla cream. The macaroons were edible, but lets just say I knew I was not in Pierre Hermes/La Duree.
But I walked away yesterday with a new found respect for the N.13
It’s not the Chanel N.5, or lucky number 8 and in western circles it really is a number to avoid.
It’s good I don’t believe in these myths, and that my search for great taste is not dictated by luck- but blessed with it.