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Restaurants & Bars

Teasmith, Spitalfields Market, London

limster | May 15, 200804:22 PM    

Karigane, a Japanese green tea consisting of blend of leaves and stems, is light and nutty, has a nuanced sweetness and somewhat reminiscent of the taste of spring in Chinese green teas that I'm a bit more familiar with.

The Anxi Tieguanyin, a very famous oolong from Fujian is excellent, the right mix of an subtle earthy smoky flavour and a floral fragrance that I love.

The Phoenix Supreme, an oolong from Phoenix mountains in Canton is fabulous. A very balanced oolong, not as smoky as say Tieguanyin, and with rounded notes of tropical fruits, reminiscent of passionfruit and mango.

All teas are served over three infusions, and it is often nice to follow the rise and fall of the flavours from one infusion to the next. A very careful, scientific approach to tea brewing -- leaves are weighted on a electric scale, water temperatures are measured with thermometers, brewing times tracked with timers. They pay a lot of attention to the classical brewing methods that varies with the type of tea, from a transparent teapot for watching jasmine pearls unfurl, to Chinese style covered bowls (gai4 wan3) for dragon well and purple clay teapots (zi3 sha1 hu2) for stronger oolongs and their extra tippy pu-erh. And notice how the pour the water into the bowls from one edge, to have the leaves picked up by the resulting eddy. Per standard practice, the first quick wash is discarded.

It's quite interactive to sip tea at the bar, one gets to see the leaves and smell them as they are taken out, take another whiff of the fragrance from the lid of the brewing bowl, appreciate the colour and of the leaves as they change with each infusion. A fun sensory experience.

They also serve chocolates, cookies and little cakes from William Curley, with suggested tea pairings.

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