Monday, January 11, 2010
Like many American's I drink Coffee... lots and lots of Coffee. I drink Coffee in the morning when I wake up. Then in the afternoon as a pick me up and sometimes I drink a cup when I get home, while I read the latest Theroux book. That last cup is always a bad idea and I usually spend the entire night cursing myself out as the hours fly by and all of a sudden it's 3am and I'm wide awake. However, I have recently started weaning myself off of this blood pressure raising, creativity sparking beverage and instead, I have been turning to Tea.
My fascination with Tea started in 2004 when I was studying in England. I would pop 'round to a mates house for a 'cuppa PG Tips, which was overpowered by milk and sugar. But still, it was probably better for me than a Grande Latte Mocha-Hispanino-Moo Moo, or whatever those over-inflated, exceedingly expensive Starbucks Coffees are called. I was sold on PG Tips until I discovered Tea Pigs, an English company very similar to Mighty Leaf, or Two Leaves and a Bud. PG Tips was then thrown out with furious passion and Tea Pigs was purchased in massive quantities. Until I moved to the US and then I had to have all my Tea sent over from England. So, to say I'm "into Tea" would be like saying Mike Tyson is "pretty tough." No, I am passionate about Tea and I like to think I know my stuff.
When my wife and I were married we received $250 in The Four Seasons gift cards. All part of our grand Honeymoon that was supposed to span 2 continents and 4 countries. We were planning on staying exclusively at The Four Seasons and for various reasons we had to opt for a week in Provence instead. I know, boohoo me, right?
We have just gotten around to spending these gift cards and for a nice treat we decided to take my mother and grandmother out for a nice afternoon. Tea at The Four Seasons was our destination. We arrived on time and were seated promptly. The Tea was in the dining room due to a Kids Tea Day taking place in the Swann Lounge. I adore the Fountain Restaurant, to me it's one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia. It is graceful and elegant, with a view to die for of Alexander Stirling Calder’s Swann Memorial Fountain.
There are three variations to the Tea menu at The Four Seasons: The Royal Tea, the Social Tea and the A La Carte. Being that we had gift cards we decided on the Royal Tea. Within minutes we were brought 2 glasses filled with Sherry for my mother and grandmother and 2 glasses filled with Sparkling Wine for me and the wife. It was delightful. The Sherry felt decadent at 3 in the afternoon. And a few minutes later a nice young man brought us a towering, 3 tiered display filled with all kinds of goodies. There was Seasonal Finger Sandwiches, which consisted of a Smoked Salmon, a Cucumber and an Egg Sandwich. All very standard across the Pond. In fact, the quality and the tastes were almost identical to the Afternoon Tea I had while staying at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. However, it varied slightly from the Tea I had at The Ritz in London. The sandwiches at the Ritz had slightly more Butter in them, which I love. I am a firm believer in the power of good Butter.
Of course, the Sandwiches were not all there was to this dining experience. The Canapes, Scones and Pastries were all great quality and made me miss England a great deal. It didn't make my wife miss it however. She is still in holiday mode in the US even though she's been here for over two years now. There was one thing I was unhappy with, and it's quite a serious matter... the Tea. There was no plain, single region Tea served that afternoon. Instead it was all laced with Fruit Essence, or Caramel and that sort of thing. All I wanted was a good, strong Assam and I had to settle for Brazilian Fruit Tea. Oh, it had Black Tea in it, just a heck of a lot of Fruit flavors too. And to top it off, it was not served as Whole Loose Leaf, no it was in bags. I nearly fell over in my chair and called the Queen Mother to come over and handle this outrageous situation. But I didn't. I decided to leave her alone and pretend that I was really enjoying my Tea dust and Brazilian Fruit.
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