A few weeks ago I was contacted by the famous "Le Palais Des Thés" (read more about them) who asked me if I was interested in reviewing a few of their teas. Since I love tea and had heard a lot about them and I had a peek at their wonderful showcase at my favorite local store (Manor) there was no way I was going to refuse that offer. It is a great opportunity for me to discover new products...
When I was still living at home my parents bought many expensive Chinese teas from a Vietnamese of Chinese origin who travelled a lot around China in order to find rare blends (Pu Erh, Wu Long, White Cloud, etc...) and buy beautiful teapots that he sold in his little boutique/tearoom. In that way, I was brought up to appreciate good quality teas and not get fooled by the commercial brands that make you believe they sell the best teas on the market when in fact they only offer low-grade teas.
Well, for me tea is made to be savoured and not drunken like any other vulgar drink. One needs to take his/her time, sit comfortably, be in a positive mood, freehimself/herself from the grip of the stressful modern world and open his/her senses. Drinking tea can be compared to meditation. As a matter of fact tea gives you a sense of enlightenment - an almost "light" sensation where you feel open to the world. It enhances the feeling of well being, makes you feel more relaxed and more receptive to your inner self (keeps you open and clear) and clearly enhances your meditation experience. No wonder that in Asia (China and Japan mainly - tea ceremonies) it has always been used in close relationship to meditation.
So, in order to fully appreciate the teas I was given to sample, I tried to find the best moments possible in order to reverently to get my pretty Chinese clay Yi Xing teapot and mini cups out. I did not want to rush the testing session and decided to spread it over a few days.
I must say that I was really not deceived by the teas I tested. All were divine, unique and I had a great time experimenting with them. The "Le Palais Des Thés" blends are extraordinary, refined, out of this world and are processed from first-class teas. A real experience!
An insight on the teas I tested:
Thé Des Sherpas
Unfermented whole leaf green tea from Darjeeling (Northern India/Himalaya).
Fresh and scented. It's taste brings reminds of roasted chestnuts.
Whole leaf green tea mixed with flower petals.
Inspired by oriental traditions, wonderfully exotic, with intense fruity accents of lychee and mango and delicate floral notes of lotus and roses.
Bao Zhong Impérial
Semi-fermented whole leaf tea from Taiwan.
Flowery, verdant, mild and almost peppery taste that evokes narcissus and jasmine flowers.
Thés Des Concubines
Whole leaf green and black teas from China with rose petals and pieces of fruit.
Refined, delicate with rich, fruity notes of cherry, mango and vanilla.
Whole leaf green tea from Japan.
Very refreshing, thirst quenching and delicious. Has a delightful flavor of roasted rice and Bancha tea.
Thé Aux Fruits d'Eté
Whole leaf black tea from Yunnan with the natural extract of Na-she (a fruit from the South of China which's flavour is similar to that of the pear while it has the appearance of a small apple) and marigold petals.
Fresh, slightly smoky and subtly perfumed.
Thés Des Amants
Whole leaf red tea with Rooibos bush, apple, almond, cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of ginger. Sensual, sweet, voluptuous, fruity and lighty spicy.
Read the interesting blog "Discovering Tea".
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~As I wanted to take the sampling even further, I thought that it would be a wonderful idea to bake a treat that would be flavored with one of the "Le Palais Des Thés" teas...
Middle East pastries are mostly enjoyed with a good cup of black tea (or coffee) I thought that instead I could make a Lebanese treat aromatized with tea. After a little research on Cherine's gorgeous blog "Chicho's Kitchen" I came upon the speciality that I was going to bake: "Namoura" (see my 2006 post about that speciality also called"Basboussa" in Egypt or "Revani" in Greece or Turkey), a heavenly dessert made with semolina and imbibed with a luscious syrup. Just the right dessert to celebrate both the Eid or Rosh Hashanah (Eid Said Mubarak & Shanah Tova!!!)...
Cherine's recipe uses a syrup that is flavored with orange blossom water. I chose to perfume mine with one of the "Le Palais Des Thés" fruity teas. I wanted a flavor that would be very Middle Eastern in flavor, so I thought that the "Théophile" tea would be the perfect choice as it's got strong and intoxicating floral accents that remind me of ancient Syrian rose gardens.
"Namoura" is a tantalizingly exquisite cake. It is fluffy and divinely moist in texture, wickidly sweet like honey, is subtly perfumed and has a delicate buttery aroma.
~ Namoura With Tea Syrup ~
Recipe adapted from "Chicho's Kitchen".
Ingredients For The "Cake":
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 Cup All-purpose flour
A pinch sea salt
1 Cup Fine semolina
1 Cup Ground almonds
1 Cup Unsalted butter, melted
1 Cup Whole milk
1 1/3 Tbs Baking powder
2 Tbs Tahini
Blanched almonds for decorating
Ingredients For The "Syrup":
2 Cups Castor sugar
2 Cups Water
4 Tsp "Théophile" tea (Le Palais Des Thés)
Method For The "Cake":
1. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, the salt, the semolina, the ground almonds and the baking powder.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, the melted butter and the eggs.
3. Add the milk/butter/egg mixture to the flour/semolina mixture and mix well.
4. Grease a 25cm (10 inches) round baking pan with 2 tbsp of tahini and pour the batter in.
5. Using a knife, score the top of the batter into equal squares and place a blanched almond in the middle of each square.
6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C (350º C) for 30 to 45 minutes or until slightly brown on top.
Method For The "Syrup":
7. Meanwhile bring the water to a boil and infuse the tea for about 5 minutes. Sieve well.
8. In a saucepan, mix the sugar and flavored water together and bring to a boil. Let simmer until it forms a sticky syrup.
9. Let the syrup cool completely.
10. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour the cold syrup over.
11. Cool the cake on a rack and then cut the squares.
If you don't want to use tea, then add 2 Tbs orange blossom water to the water/sugar mixture (mix the water & sugar & orange blossom, then bring to the boil and simmer).
This cake is very breakable when fresh. I recommend that you leave it a few hours in the fridge before serving. In that way you'll have clean slices.
Eat this cake at any time of the day and accompany it with some good tea.
Recette adaptée du blog "Chicho's Kitchen".
Ingrédients Pour Le "Gâteau":
2 Oeufs légèrement battus
1 Tasse de farine blanche
1 Pincée de sel marin
1 Tasse de Semoule moyenne
1 Tasse de Poudre d'amande 1 Tasse de Beurre non-salé, fondu
1 Tasse de Lait entier
1 1/3 CS de Poudre à lever (levure chimique)
2 CS de Tahini
Amandes blanchies pour la décoration
Ingrédients Pour Le "Sirop":
2 Tasses de Sucre
2 Tasses d'Eau
4 CC de Thé Théophile" (Le Palais Des Thés)
Méthode Pour Le "Gâteau":
1. Dans un grand bol, mélangez la farine, le sel, la semoule, la poudre d'amande et la poudre à lever.
2. Dans un autre bol, mélangez le lait, le beurre fondu et les œufs.
3. Ajouter le mélange aux oeufs au mélange farine/semoule et bien mélangez.
4. Graissez un moule rond de 25cm avec le tahini et versez la préparation dedans.
5. Avec un couteau, entaillez des carrés et déposez une amande au centre de chaque carré.
6. Faites cuire dans un four préchauffé à 180º C pendant 30 à 45 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que le gâteau soit légèrement doré.7. Pendant ce temps, portez l'eau à ébullition et ajouter le thé. Laisser infuser pendant 5 minutes et tamiser.
8. Mélanger le sucre et le thé, puis portez à ébullition. Faire mijoter jusqu'à ce que le sirop soit épais.
9. Stopper le feu et laissez le sirop refroidir.
10. Sortir le gâteau du four et recouvrez-le de sirop froid. Le laisser s'imbiber.
11. Le couper en carrés. Faire refroidir le gâteau sur une grille.
Si vous ne voulez pas parfumer votre Namoura avec du thé, alors ajoutez 2 CS d'eau de fleur d'oranger au mélange eau/sucre (mélanger le sucre, l'eau et l'eau de fleur d'oranger ensemble, porter à ébulltion et faire mijoter).
Ce cake est très friable quand il est frais. De ce fait je vous recommande de le conserver au frigo pendant quelques heures avant de la servir. Il sera plus présentable.
Idées de présentation:
Servir ce gâteau à toute heure de la journée, avec une bonne tasses de thé.