I know what I want to be when I grow up.
Alexis Siemons, a tea consultant and author of Teaspoons & Petals, (who I had the honor of meeting) taught a class on the art of pairing spring tea and baked goods at Metropolitan Bakery’s Cafe, featuring teas from Premium Steap, on Monday, April 28.
A simple Septa ride from Overbrook, a stroll through Rittenhouse Square, and I walked into an intimate gathering of food and tea lovers. Before this class I had no experience with pairing tea except pairing scones and clotted cream. I like to think I left with some more knowledge.
Guests, or should I say students, sat outlining most of the perimeter of the café while a bunch of us gathered around a community table in the center. Our evening began with an introduction by the owner who wanted this evening to inspire food and community. She handed it over to Alexis who introduced our teas and springtime baked goods.
The menu consisted of four teas and baked goods:
Sencha Green Tea from Japan, paired with a chocolate cherry bread
This first flush tea is reminiscent of spring vegetables, smells of fresh cut grass, and pairs well with buttery/rich food like the chocolate cherry bread I devoured, alternating sip after bite.
Genmaicha Green Tea from Japan, paired with Rosemary Focaccia
This second flush tea pairs well with savory flavors, like the sourdough of the focaccia, because of tea’s nutty, toasty flavor.
Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea from China paired with a plain croissant
The butter of the croissant brought out the floral taste of this velvet oolong tea. We were encouraged to try a leaf, and it wasn’t as bitter as I was expecting. In fact, I had seconds.
Iced Green Earl Grey Rhubarb Tea with a raspberry crumb bar
This is the potpourri of tea. This tea was served iced and had a sharp floral taste, almost like a creamsicle. It was cold on the palate which makes pairing more difficult, but the hints of rhubarb were brought out with the raspberry in the bar.
Other than the art of pairing, the evening was full of useful tea tips which were easily jotted down on paper provided:
- Alexis stressed the importance of steep time. As someone who enjoys a strong cup of tea, I took this to heart. For example, if you steep a green tea too long, you might burn the leaves and end up with a bitter taste instead of a morning cup of an earthy green tea.
- Stay away from microwaves. It’s better to just warm your water in a pot on the stove if you don’t have a kettle or electric teapot.
- Mesh tea balls suffocate tea leaves– they leave no room for the leaves to expand, thus compromising the flavor.
- White wine + green tea= tea sangria!
- Boiling water is not required for all teas. The Sencha Green Tea was brewed for 60 seconds at 180°F, the Genmachia at 185°F, and the Oolong at 190°F.
I left with a belly full of tea and baked goods and a mind full of tea pairings.