I've had ongoing frustrations with the tea service offered in restaurants, particularly those that are on the high-end of the price spectrum. In my many years of dining out in NYC, I've noticed that low and mid-range restaurants often supply diners with a better tea selection than the higher-end establishments. The state of tea service in restaurants is poor overall, as it often gets ignored for fancy artisan roasted coffee.
Over the weekend my Husband and I went out for a very special lunch at Per Se, one of NYC's 4-star restaurants. This isn't a food blog, but I have to mention that the food, service, and atmosphere is everything you could ever want in a 4 star restaurant. Exquisite. But, on to the tea service. We've been to Per Se before, and I remember that the teas were good, but my memory was a bit foggy.
The first test was to ask the server about the selection of teas. The tea and coffee is provided by Equator Coffee and Teas. He immediately recommended his favorite, which was a Golden Monkey. He knew it was from the Fujian Province of China. Definitely a good sign. There was also the standard Early Grey and I think an English Breakfast. They had two green teas- a Dragon Well and I believe a green blend. I chose the Golden Monkey, and my Husband picked the Dragon Well.
The teas came out in ample sized cast iron pots. The leaves had already been steeped and removed. My Golden Monkey was well prepared- smooth, delicate, with rich chocolate notes to it. A very satisfying tea. My only complaint would be that I tend to like my black teas a tiny bit stronger. I would have left the leaves in for another 30 seconds or so. I'm sure they brewed the leaves as they were instructed to. I wish I had the chance to give a strength preference (which I'm sure would be difficult for the server to reproduce), but overall, this was a good tea experience. I should have asked the server how they chose the tea supplier, and how many diners choose tea over coffee. But as you can imagine, my mind was floating with contentment, and not focusing.
I was happy to see a selection beyond the Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and 'green'. Of course, there is room for improvement but as I had hoped, this has been the best high-end restaurant tea experience so far. There is one other high-end place I need to visit soon, as I remember that they had a large tea selection. But again, my memory is a bit hazy on this. I think further research is definitely in order. Perhaps in a few months, after the immense amount of food from this phenomenal meal has finally been digested.