T Shop celebrated its two year anniversary over this weekend. "Harmony" was the word Theresa often mentioned over the course of the dinner -- as the weekend brought the many customers who helped support T Shop together for a night of amazing food harmonized with tea.
Each of the dishes used tea as an ingredient, and was paired with the tea that was used. This got me to think about a tea session I once had -- a session where we played with teas that were very different, and very similar. As I started thinking about this, I was greeted by a pour of the Four Seasons Spring oolong, signaling the start of the meal.
The meal began with a Ceviche that I thought was a great balance of textures and flavors. I thought the dish was complete on its own, until I had the Four Seasons Spring that was served with it. The tea felt like a natural extension of a dish -- echoing the base of the dish, while springing forth the aroma of the tea. This completed my memory -- the teas that were widly different clashed in the tongue, but the teas that were similar balanced each other, and subtly highlighted the difference. Harmony.
The cackling texture continued with the next dish -- a braised goat stew, featuring a crispy black rice. Textures were at play again, along with rich flavors that highlighted the thickness of this tea. This was better demonstrated in the fish dish that followed, where the oiliness of the fish was caught and taken up by the Wild Lapsang Souchong. Did ingredients, cooked with tea, help the tea catch the lingering flavors better?
I did not have long to wonder as I was soon met with the standout pairing of the night, the Fanesca -- featuring ingredients of tree regions, paired with a raw puerh from this season. "Tastes like trees", was a remark by the guest next to me, and that made the subtle flavors of the tea grow more and more bold. The texture between the dish and the tea transitioned smoothly, while the notes brought out changed as the tea cooled down, an effect that was also noticed by next course, the Guatita en Peanut Sauce, where the dish was first finished by the roastiness of the tea, and by the sweetness as the tea
There was a small time for a cheer with a cocktail made with tree tomatoes, the Red Water Oolong, and Zhumir, and the meal turned into darker earthy notes with a guinea pig, tea infused mushrooms, and a 2015 raw puerh. The dessert -- was a spectacular pairing of Tie Guan Yin ice cream with a chocolate mousse, garnished with black sesame and figs.
Theresa mentioned that tea being used in the dishes brought the flavors together, helping them harmonize. Although, I wasn't able to taste the ingredients separately beforehand, I didn't doubt her -- after all, if tea brings people together, then why not flavors? It was a night that showcased tea's magical abilities to harmonize, and I was glad to be able to experience it.
Guest writer: Wooju Lee
Photo credit: Max Falkowitz