Time For Tea
Spring is finally here! Can you feel it rushing in with the wind? The fresh sent of blooming flowers coupled with the bright blue sky… and after some rather chaotic weather in Bahrain (spring showers and sandstorms) things seem to be heating up again. This is my favourite time of year in The Gulf!
Last weekend I was delightfully invited to a ‘Tea and Chocolate Tasting Workshop’. Yes. That is correct. Tea and chocolate! Two of my favourite things in one sitting! We weren’t given much information apart from a couple of interesting rules to follow:
- Avoid applying strong perfumes or being exposed to strong odours.
- Do not eat any foods with lingering tastes
- Come with an open heart!
I love tea. That may be the British in me coming out, but tea is one of those staple beverages in my home. I really started getting into teas at university in the UK after having numerous afternoon teas with my granddad, friends and even with the Baking Society! I became adventurous, trying different teas from Assam, mint and chamomile tea to Lady Grey and liquorish tea. Sweet tea soon became my best friend during the chilly and stressful winters, where I would snuggle up with a book and try to ignore the howling winds outside. Tea is not just warm and comforting, but studies have suggested that some teas can help reduce a number of medical issues!
Tea is not just a British stereotype, but cherished in a vast number of cultures around the world. Tea is the national drink in Iran and Afghanistan; it is grown in a number of countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn; and was discovered by the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung when tealeaves blew into his cup of boiling water! Tea has been consumed for more than 4000 years, yet, thanks to the mass production of teas, the art of making the perfect cup of tea is nearly unheard of. But then came along Anfal Fekri, the first Tea Specialist in the Middle East, who fell in love with tea and soon founded Silver Tea Leaf, offering consultation and training services to hotels and restaurants serving tea!
Tea tasting was certainly a new experience for me!
We began the workshop with a little history about teas (did you know there are 6 categories of tea?!) and a quick explanation about the workshop… then the fun started. We donned our blindfolds and sipped our teas for a truly extraordinary experience. With one of our strongest senses “turned off”, our other senses went into hyper-drive. Flavours that I would have never thought about burst out – a strong citrus essence, softly-sweet floral undertones leaving behind a sharp, ashy aftertaste.
Then the chocolates came out.
I have had my eye on these chocolates since they hit the shelves in Bahrain. Bare Chocolates is a Bahraini company set up by May Mahmood which combines an array of unusual flavours with organic and fair trade ingredients. From dark chocolate coupled with orange or coconut, to lemon and ginger, each bar is wrapped up with beautifully designed packaging.
Anfal and May managed to pair different types of chocolates and teas together to produce some pretty exhilarating tastes – just by simply drinking tea before tasting the chocolate completely changed the flavours! Who would have thought?!