Friday, October 19, 2012

Steep Thoughts: Another disappointing 4-Star Restaurant Tea Experience

Yesterday my husband and I went to Le Bernardin for an impromptu fancy lunch. They have a wonderful lunch menu where part of the proceeds are donated to City Harvest. After such decadent perfection, I was looking forward to a nice pot of tea. When asked about options, the server said they had Earl Grey, 'a Green tea', a couple of herbals, and Keemun. I was surprised at the sad selection, since the last time we dined at Le Bernardin they had tea blends specifically created for the restaurant. That was a good few years ago, and the restaurant has gone through a renovation since then.

I went with the Keemun, my husband choose 'green'. I had high hopes, since the entire meal was stellar. This is a restaurant that pays attention to the smallest detail of the dining experience. The loose tea arrived in a small French press pot. The tea was pressed and poured. I've heard that tea should not be pressed, as it becomes bitter (but I don't have any research to back this up). Also, the pressed leaves are still in contact with the water. The tea started out tasting nicely, but after many minutes of continued infusion it was too strong. I love a strong cup of black tea but this was too harsh for me. I should have mentioned it to the server, but by then I had already drank more than half of the pot, and I was quite full and ready to leave.

This topic begs for a more in-depth look at higher end restaurants and their view on tea service. I've written about this on a few different occasions, and I'm always surprised at the lack of attention that tea gets at a restaurant that supposedly pays attention to your every whim. To be continued.