I was invited to attend a food blogger’s meet at Tea Trails in Kalaghoda the other day. I’ve never been for something like this, so it was an interesting experience. The atmosphere and look of the bistro is quite simple, adding a few quirky elements here and there. Some of their plush sofa seats are perfect to snuggle into with a good book and of course a cup of tea.
Taking a look at their menu, there a few things that stood out to me almost instantly. They offer to separate menus one serving just tea, the other foods infused with tea.
What stood out to me on the menu was an Olive and Green tea hummus, an Olive and Green tea bruschetta and the British tea service they offer, complete with sandwiches and cakes.
The Chef had already planned a menu for the evening, allowing us to taste not only a variety of the foods they offer, but also their different types of tea.
While we waited for the rest of the bloggers to arrive, they gave us a bit of the Better Wife to try. The Better Wife is a cool refreshing drink made using fresh juices and herbs. It had a distinct minty flavour, but was also very fruity with a hint of pineapple.
In preparation for Ice Tea day, they had someone taking photographs of the food and drinks on offer. We sneakily got shots of the dishes available, and they even let us try out the food and drinks.
First was the Mumbai Masala Sandwich and the Lemon Mint Ice Tea. I didn’t try the sandwich since it had tomatoes which I am not a fan of in sandwiches, however I did try the ice tea, and it was delicious. Unlike most ice teas available, it wasnt too sweet which allowed the flavour of the mint and lime to come through.
Next was Bun Maska with Tea Sangria. Again, not a fan of either. Bun Maska, an Iranian breakfast, is essentially a bread bun with maska i.e. butter. At Tea Trails they gave us a tooty fruity bun and sprinkled some sugar on top. I would normally eat it had there been no sugar or tooty fruity, but if you don’t mind either, it’s a nice combination. The Tea Sangria was fizzy and sweet, with pieces of apple cut up. It’s an interesting twist on the well-known cocktail.
Moving on was the Burmese tea salad and Matcha shake. The salad came with a beautiful and simple sesame oil dressing. Overall, the salad had a very simple flavour and the crispy, fried green tea leaves as well as the flavoured chickpeas on top just added that slight bit of crunch. The Match shake was something I had never tried before and did in fact like it very much when I did. The first thing that struck me when I tasted it, was white chocolate. They don’t actually add any, but that’s what I tasted. Considering the high caffeine content matcha has, it gives you a nice kick almost as soon as you take a few sips. However, there was a slight bitter after taste that it had that I wasnt to keen about.
Once everyone arrived, they started off with the tasting. IT was planned in a way that allowed us to taste the teas and then understand the kind of food they best go with.
First off was the White Tea, Needle Tea. It looks like slightly yellowish water. They first showed us how the tea is served if a serving is ordered, and then gave each of us a little cup to try. White tea has a slight fruity flavour, and is quite light on your tongue. It felt like velvet which the general manager told us is the increase in its volume. It does however taste a lot like flavoured water. White tea is anticarcinogenic and is therefore better for our body than other dark teas are. It is however one of the most expensive teas available and sells at 70,000-80,000 rupees per kilogram.
White tea pairs perfectly with delicately flavoured food that is simple. Bun Maska, that we tried earlier is the perfect example of food that goes brilliantly with white tea. The subtlety of the food compliments the tea, allowing its flavours to be clearly tasted.
Moving on from white tea, we tried something slightly darker, green tea, the Kashmiri Kahva. They served it the same way as earlier, but this time the tea-cup had some almond flakes which we were told help accentuate the flavour of the tea. The tea is brewed with some spices and that’s the first thing that hits you when you taste it. All I got was CLOVE but it soon develops into other flavours. Again like white tea, it goes with light flavours, which don’t have too many ingredients. They gave us their olive and green tea bruschetta to try with the tea, saying it pairs well, however I didn’t think it did. The bruschetta had way too much capsicum and bell peppers, which completely overtook the flavour of the olives and fried green tea on top as well as the flavour of the tea. The Burmese salad we had earlier however went quite well with the green and tea and allowed the flavours of the tea and salad to come out beautifully.
Next was a more artistic tea, known for its presentation value, Blooming tea. It’s basically a flower that blooms when hot water is poured over it. It has a slight flowery taste and a yellowish tinge like the white tea, but other than that nothing. The chrysanthemum flower is used, and takes over a full minute to bloom completely.
Next was a Three Cheese Risotto with a Tea Butter. The risotto had a nice meaty flavour from the Gruyère used which was interesting considering it was a vegetarian establishment. The risotto also had Cheddar and Parmesan. I found the risotto too starchy and dry and not runny enough like a good risotto should be. The initial taste of the tea butter was nice, and went well with the risotto however it had an odd after taste.
The 4th tea we tried was a black tea called Lapsang Souchong. It had a lovely smoky flavour. They paired this tea perfectly with a smoky cottage cheese sandwich which had a lovely sweetish barbecue sauce.
Another fad out now is bubble tea. While the bubble in bubble tea are generally made of tapioca, Tea Trails also offers ones made of green tea and fruit juice making them easier to eat since they aren’t as chewy. We were given mango and lychee bubble tea, both of which I found too sweet.
While we consumed the bubble tea, they served us some olive and green tea hummus, another thing I had been eyeing on their menu. While the hummus was quite tasty, I thought it lacked a punch in terms of flavour, and was in need of some salt.
With the rainy season coming up, one thing all of us are looking forward to is some chai and bhajiya to cozy up with on a rainy day. Tea Trails serves some amazing Kullad Chai and Kanda (onion) Bhajiya. The chai however wasn’t milky and sweet like all of expected. Instead it was heavily flavoured with spices and absolutely no sugar. I couldn’t quite place the spice flavour however when I asked what it was, the general manager informed me that Tea Trails was planning to hold a competition in which one had to figure out the spice used in the chai. In my house, I’m used to making Kanda Bhajiya the Sindhi way like my mom does, however this tasted like the ones sold on the streets of the city complete with some yummy garlic chutney sprinkled on top as well as green chutney on the side.
Another popular dish in the city, specially as a breakfast dish is Kejriwal. The history of it starts from Willigdon Club where an old golfer asked for his sunny side up eggs to be served to him on some pav (bread) along with some chopped up onion, tomato, coriander and red chillies.
To go with all the desserts they served us, they gave us some Tisane to try. Tisane is not really tea, but a mix of herbs, roots and spices. We tried some Red Zen which is made of 12 different ingredients, including chamomile flowers. It has a slight sweetness which im guessing comes from all the different ingredients since it has no additional sugar. The interesting bit about it is that it could be served cold too and is in fact known as a dessert tea.
In terms of dessert, they gave us a variety of options just to end the wonderful meal. There was a Chocolate Truffle, a Mixed Fruit Pastry with a fruit compote, a Chocolate Muffin, Black Forest and a Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
At the end of the night they gave each of us a bag with a small write-up about the establishment as well as some tea to take home.