Tea and food

Tea in your cocktails – a novel and delicious idea!

13 May 2016
Tea in your cocktails – a novel and delicious idea!

 
You can use tea in many ways. In cooking, if there is water, milk or single cream in a recipe, for example, you simply infuse the tea in the liquid and filter it. I’ll come back to that subject soon. You can also make cocktails with tea. If you’d like to try it, you can infuse tea directly in alcohol, though you may have to use more tea and steep it for longer. You can also prepare a strong tea in the usual way, and use it as an ingredient. Herbal infusions are also very good in cocktails. Philippe Carraz, head barman at the Alcazar, is pictured here mixing a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail made from agave syrup, fresh ginger, our Romantic Garden and a few sprigs of thyme. Let me know what you think.

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Chai is great!

6 May 2016
Chai is great!

You know how they are, tea drinkers – they can be obsessive. They save a special teapot for a particular tea, they infuse some teas for exactly three minutes and 45 seconds in water at 85°C, others for just two minutes in water at a maximum temperature of 60°C.

So this photo I took in Kolkata makes me smile. Firstly, because I really enjoy drinking chai when I’m in India. Secondly, because all the tea-drinker’s principles have gone out of the window here. This chai wallah boils up his water, puts milk in his tea, adds a load of spices and works in basic conditions, seated on a scrap of cardboard placed on the pavement, without fanfare. And that’s what tea is about, too: simply made, with care, and an absolutely delicious drink in a cup. Chai is great!

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The three tasting senses

29 January 2016
The three tasting senses

Three senses come into play when we drink tea and analyse the liquor: taste, which focuses on flavours (sweet, salty, acidic, bitter, umami, etc.), smell – made more effective through retro-nasal olfaction (a technique that consists of exhaling through the nose, bringing more olfactory molecules into the retro-nasal cavity) – and touch, which of course tells us whether the tea is hot or cold, astringent or silky, and other sensations. If we want to describe a tea, it is essential to understand about flavours, olfactory notes and touch. It helps us when we taste together, so we can share our impressions.

 

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Tea tasting is all about the senses

22 January 2016
Tea tasting is all about the senses

When I give a lesson at The Tea School, or when I arrange a tasting for colleagues, one of the first things I do is to ask them a very simple question: once you have put food in your mouth, how many senses are in contact with this food, and which ones? The answers always vary. Now, to taste properly – and this goes for any food – it is essential to understand which senses come into play, and then to build up the appropriate vocabulary.

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Tea liquor

11 December 2015
Tea liquor

Looking at the liquor is one of the first steps in tea tasting. While the temperature of the cup slowly falls, we pay attention to the colour of the liquid. Green tea produces something pale, while black tea gives a more coppery tone. This does not mean darker tea has been infused for longer, or has a more pronounced fragrance than its neighbour. In fact there are green teas that have a remarkably powerful aroma, even after quite a short infusion. So we cannot conclude from this photo that the most aromatic tea will be the more coloured of the two.

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A very broken tea

9 October 2015
A very broken tea

In some regions of Sri Lanka, they produce a tea that is so fine, so broken, so black, it is undrinkable. Or else you have to add milk and sugar, or dilute it with water.

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Tasting many teas

18 September 2015
Tasting many teas

It is no more difficult to taste thirty or forty teas than to taste two or three. On the contrary: you move quickly from one to the next, you spit each one out, you concentrate so you can compare them, and very quickly you know which one you prefer.

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Tea auctions in Sri Lanka

11 September 2015
Tea auctions in Sri Lanka

When I set off to visit Sri Lankan plantations, I stop off first in Colombo to taste the teas being sold at auction in the following days. It gives me a good idea of the quality being produced by the different gardens. Each of these boxes contains a few tea leaves and is marked with the lot number.

 

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Tasting and contemplating

28 August 2015
Tasting and contemplating

The advantage of photographing a window is that you can layer two images: here, the tasting set being prepared, and the landscape reflected in the glass. It’s fun to combine and merge the two views. The meaning of the tasting becomes clearer: we drink the tea, which comes from nature, surrounded by the land from which it originated.

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Unfired clay cups of Kolkata

24 July 2015
Unfired clay cups of Kolkata

In Kolkata, where the heat is stupefying for a good part of the year, tea is drunk boiling hot. It is consumed in the street, by a stall, where it is often served in an unfired clay cup which is then thrown to the ground. The clay breaks on the pavement, and when the rain comes it turns to mud.

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