Sunday, August 15, 2010

American Tea House in Beverly Hills

My cousin received a gift certificate to a tea tasting class at the American Tea Room for Mother's Day and invited me along. I'm half Japanese and half Chinese, and I grew up drinking both green and black tea on a regular basis. My parents didn't think it was appropriate for young children to drink soda with our meals so we had tea instead. I've always loved tea but it wasn't until today that I found out how little I knew about this ancient beverage. 

All tea -- from the glorious Tie Guan Yin to the humblest Lipton black tea -- came from the Camellia sinensis plant. At the American Tea Room, we sampled white, green, Oolong and black tea, as well as an herbal "tea."

We were told the cup was very special. 

Look at how a pattern emerges when hot water is poured into it. We got to keep the cup. 

This is a very high quality white tea from Fujien, China. It boasts three times the antioxidants of your average green tea. White tea, or Silver Needles, are hand plucked buds of a tea plant. It's very light and has a floral flavor, which lingers on your tongue. A 3.5 oz bag retails for $65.

This green tea from Japan has a very fresh, almost grassy taste. A few tips I learned: Tea should not be steeped in boiling water. 183 is the preferred temperature. And different tea requires different steeping time. 

Oolong is partially (around 10%) fermented tea leaves -- the state between green and black tea. The version we tried is from Taiwan. It's more mild than the Oolongs I've had at dim sum restaurants. 

The Oolong was paired with a cracker with a soft Danish cheese and olives. The olives were really salty and pungent and highlighted the subtlety of the delicate tea. 

Black tea is fully fermented tea leaves. The Maharajah or Assam Black tea is from northern India and has hints of cinnamon and cloves. This full-bodied tea is my favorite of all five teas we tasted. 

The Maharajah was paired with a smoked salmon tartlet. 

The Choco Laté is made with African rooibos, cacao husks and vanilla bean. It brewed for 4 minutes and smelled and tasted like hot chocolate! It was dessert without the sin. Technically, this is not real "tea" since it was not brewed with leaves from a tea plant. 

The matcha meringue dipped in chocolate really complemented the African rooibos. 


1 comment:

bananami said...

That teacup is the coolest thing ever! I want one!

I love tea so this sounds like a neat place. My friends and I went to the Red Blossom Tea Company in SF Chinatown and sampled some tea there. Once we left with our purchases, one of them said, "I've never bought tea that came with an instruction manual for how to brew it!"