gracecheung604 | write on time: High Tea Asian Style at Urban Tea Merchant

Thursday, September 20, 2012

High Tea Asian Style at Urban Tea Merchant

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For a limited time only, Urban Tea Merchant is featuring a Moon Festival Tea Service for $38/person. The offer is in honour of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, celebrated this year on September 30. Mooncake is a feature of the festivities, as are brightly coloured lanterns, both of which are present at Urban Tea Merchant. tea-infused petit-chou As with all their tea services, we start off with a martini glass full of Petit-Chou, little cream puffs served with a tea-infused butter, specifically, today, we have the "Weekend in St. Tropez" butter. earl grey tea And you can't have high tea without tea. I loved the monogrammed teapot, sugar and teacup. It does make one feel rather civilized. The tea is brewed for you before it comes to your table, so there aren't actually any tea leaves in the teapot. This ensures that the tea doesn't "oversteep". Once you run out of tea, feel free to ask one of the staff to brew you another pot. 
To round out our tea, we asked for Splenda (or any sugar substitute) and was told that they didn't have any. Not sure if they ran out, or if they don't stock it at all...good thing we had our own! We also asked for both milk and cream for our two teas. The waiter came back with a mini-pitcher of hot milk, but no cream. So we asked him for the cream, which he brought back cold. We asked him if he could heat it up for us so it doesn't cool the tea. And I swear to goodness, his response was "well, if you pour just a little bit of cream into the hot tea, it should be fine." I flipped (just a little) and asked him if it was "possible" to heat the cream, to which he replied yes, and skulked away to heat it. Really, was that so hard? at a glance Anyways, with the tea made, we settled in and waited for the actual Moon Festival Tea Service, and we waited so more. After about 15 minutes, it finally arrived. What struck me first was the fact that this wasn't a tiered tea service, like the ones that I was normally used to, like my last visit. It's weird to see savouries and sweets side by side. “Weekend in Hong Kong Tea” pork dumplings Inside the steamer basket was the Weekend in Hong Kong Tea Pork Dumplings. Don't be alarmed by the colours of the dumplings, these are just your regular pork dumplings from a Shanghainese place. “Weekend in Hong Kong Tea” pork dumplings The pork filling was good, and mixed with a lot of diced vegetables. What was not good was the skin. It was way too thick and very out of place at a high tea service. The dough was just too thinck, perhaps that was the only way the food colouring would show up? In any case, this is the equivalent of leaving the crusts on a cucumber and watercress tea sandwich, it's not awful, but it's just not elegant enough for high tea. smoked salmon ribbon with ponzu jelly Next we tried the Smoked Salmon Ribbon with Ponzu Jelly, and this was much better. I loved the attention to detail as they laid three thin slices of smoked salmon together in a way to imitate a ribbon. The ponzu jelly was salty enough and matched the salmon well, giving it a nice flavour. miso-maple glazed sablefish in butter lettuce Another winner was the Miso-Maple Glazed Sablefish served in a butter lettuce cup. The crispy shreds of wonton-like skins was a great contrast to the juiciness of the sablefish and the tenderness of butter lettuce. And the marinade for the sablefish really came through, you could definitely taste the miso.  “Lapsang Souchong Tea” chickensalad  cone The last savoury bite we tried was the Lapsang Souchong Tea Chicken Salad Cone. The chicken salad is from their regular tea service, so I've had it many times. The chicken is lightly mixed with some mayo and then dropped into a waffle cone with some more butter lettuce. The lettuce and chicken salad were good one their own, but what where they thinking putting a savoury chicken salad into a sweet waffle cone?! I ended up eating the salad and leaving the cone, along with it's silvery wrapper. The flavour combination was just too weird for me.  moon cake And this is the Moonlight Mooncake we picked, which according to our waiter, was supposed to be a strawberry and lotus cake. Of the four cakes he described to us, none of them had a salty egg yolk, a very traditional filling. So imagine my surprise when I went back to the Urban Tea's website and found out that they do indeed offer this traditional version, called the Constellation. See all their flavours here. mooncake So instead, we got the Moonlight Mooncake, a filled with lotus paste infused with Silver Moon Tea and mixed  with wild berries. This was so dry I had to drink a cup of tea to wash down one sliver. I don't blame the waiter for this erroneous description of the cake, I blame myself for not doing research prior, rather than later.fruit sI cannot forget the rest of the sweets we had with our Tea Service, namely, from left to right, a signature tea truffle, assorted seasonal fruit atop a Silver Moon Tea infused watermelon strip with a chevron strawberry.
Take Note:

  • Some of the staff are very helpful, some are not (avoid the waiter with the French accent)
  • The teas are brewed to order so expect a little bit of a wait
  • They won't offer to change plates when you move from savoury to sweet, so ask for fresh plates

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