Regular readers of this blog will know I live a life of coffee before tea. But tea most certainly has its place (uh, hello gloriously polyphenol loaded green infusion).
Earl Grey alongside a scone I can totally get behind but five courses with tea pairings?
The lovely people at Washington Tea invited us along to enjoy their latest Supper Club. Five Italian-themed courses served with perfectly paired teas.
White peach blossom tea – not Sauvignon, I hasten to add…
First, a bit about Washington / Waterloo Tea.
I’ve been a pretty big Waterloo fan girl since our return to South Wales. But I more or less remained a creature of gluten free courgette & lime, black Americano habit. But I started to branch out as the number of Waterloo tea houses grew. The sweet potato and blueberry Bundt changed everything and a visit from the in laws was a great excuse to try my first ever Washington lunch.
What every branch of Waterloo Tea does so brilliantly is cater for a number of dietary requirements without making a single fuss about it – and I love that. Gluten free gateaux make up the majority. The chocolate cake on offer is nearly always vegan. You can have your coffee (or tea) any which way and no one will ever mind. Meatless mains will leave even the most carnivorous truly satisfied.
The Supper Club was something else. For £35 per person you’re taken around the world in a series of infusions and courses that are matched so brilliantly. What I especially liked was not missing a glass of wine with my meal at all. The Supper Club felt like an unintended detox without the connotations of deprivation a dry Friday night can sometimes imply.
Course 1: roasted organic corn arrancini – coated in polenta with tomato & chilli relish
A strong start and confirmation that arrancini can taste equally as divine without being covered, as it traditionally is, in breadcrumbs.
Tea pairing 1: Sunnon (Yellow) China
Pure sunshine in a cup. A lovely little lift. A similar taste to green tea but without the strong after taste that usually deters people from drinking it.
Course 2: ribolitta – cannellini bean and organic cavolo nero soup
A guaranteed nutritional therapist in training pleaser. Plant proteins combined with a green, leafy nutrient powerhouse. Incredible – with an unexpected strong hint of lemongrass that worked really well.
Tea pairing 2: Assam (Black) India
Safe to say there’s Assam and then there’s this Assam. Most certainly deserves its place as a Waterloo best seller. By far and above the best black tea I’ve ever drunk.
Course 3: courgette linguine, cashew nut crème fraiche, marinated field mushrooms
An entirely raw and vegan course. A triumph and totally plays to the point I made earlier about Waterloo Tea’s commitment to catering for all dietary needs without a fuss.
Tea pairing 3: Ancient Emerald Lily (Green) Yunnan China
This was the only tea I was a little bit indifferent about. There was nothing at all wrong with it, just nothing that particularly stood out about it.
Course 4: aubergine involtini – roasted aubergine filled with bulgar, pistachio, feta, capers and raisins with tomato sauce
The absolute favourite. I love aubergine but nearly always settle for drenching it in olive oil and rosemary and roasting it. This is a far prettier (and substantial) way to serve it. The tomato sauce was so rich and a perfect match.
Tea pairing 4: Tangerine and Ginger (Herbal) Mixed Origin
A surprisingly deep reddy-pink thanks to the schizandra berries. Like a lovingly prepared homemade mulled wine but without the hangover.
Course 5: roasted apricot, peach and fig with yogurt, honey and toasted hazelnuts
Gorgeously gooey yet wonderfully light. An angelic ending to a sumptuous supper!
Tea pairing 5: Peach Blossom (white) China
At the beginning of the evening I was so sure this would be my favourite. I think it might be better enjoyed on its own but the leaves themselves (which decorated all of the tables) smelt simply wonderful and rival any fancy reed diffuser.
The evening represented superb value and a brilliant way to try so many new things. The staff were wonderfully informed, faultless, accommodating and more than did justice to all the brilliance that made its way out of the kitchen. Now, when’s the next one…?
Disclaimer: I was given two places for the price of one by the lovely folks at Washington Tea in exchange for this review.
The next Food & Tea event will be on Friday 26th September – the last one for 2014. Every Friday apart from this event will be a kickback session, each week featuring new wines from the Penarth Bottle Shop.