Urban Tea Merchant Year of The Dragon Afternoon Tea Service

To honour the Year of the Dragon The Urban Tea Merchant is offering a unique afternoon tea service in their downtown location at 1070 West Georgia Street, Vancouver.   From January 16 – January 31 Chef Michael Batoux has crafted tea infused items, along with some versions of the traditionally served items and there is even a TWG tea-infused fortune cookie with a prediction for you for 2012.  My cookie contained the message “Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience” – a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Seemed fitting as I always need to be reminded to slow down (whether I will or not is another story altogether).

In November of last year, The Urban Tea Merchant initiated a partnership with TWG Tea and now this luxury brand is offered exclusively at their tea shops. Along with traditional teas, TWG Tea infuses their tea with fruits, flowers and spices from around the world.  TWG Tea also offers tea pots candles and tea gift sets for everyday treats and gifts, so do include some time to peruse the storefront.

The tea on the tasting table was the Timeless Tea a black tea blended with hibiscus and other flowers, fruity and light.  The service itself comes with  chilled TWG Tea Jasmine Pearls tea and the Jade Dragon Tea, a rare fine harvest tea from leaves hand plucked just at the right time of the year.  This full bodied green tea has smoky earthy notes, a bit of sweetness and natural astringency.  It retails for $116 per 100 grams.  This afternoon tea is a good opportunity to try this luxury tea without the extra cost, and normally a charge for pricier teas is added.

For a more reasonable cost, The Urban Tea Merchant carries the  Haute Couture Jade Dragon tea from TWG Tea.  This attractive package is offered for $36.99 per 100 grams and is a combination of the Jade Dragon Tea and some other green and fruit teas.  Pictured above at the top is the Jade Dragon rare tea, and below the Haute Couture Jade Dragon so you can compare the leaves.  Below is the Haute Couture Jade Dragon tea package.  It does not come with the gold dragon, so you’ll have to get that somewhere else!

The tea service begins with a mango sorbet, full of ripe fruit flavours, refreshing your palate for the kaleidoscope of flavours to come.

On the savoury tray you will find  Peking duck & plum sauce wrapped in a crepe, cucumber, watercress & cracked black pepper sandwich, an open faced smoked salmon with wasabi mayo & soy jelly, Tiger Hill Tea-infused egg salad sandwich, petit tea-infused chicken salad cone & petit savory tart, baby shrimp & chopped apple served in Chinese spoon, Boursin cheese mousse with crisp endive & candied walnut and wagyu beef carpaccio with horseradish foam.  All items had obviously been made fresh as there was no trace of them drying out, which can occur when tea items sit too long.  The items are a refreshing change from just mini-sandwiches, which are the norm at most tea houses.  Including tea infused egg and chicken salad took the food and tea pairings up a notch, and the addition of Asian flavours tied the tea concept in with the Chinese New Year.

For sweets the tray included a tea-infused macaron, chocolate dipped dragon fruit, chocolate truffle, petit fours, fresh exotic fruit, and the Matcha tea-infused fortune cookie, as well as a fresh baked scone served with devon creme & jam.

Despite the fact I had not had lunch and had consumed a rather small breakfast, I had to pack the entire sweet tray to go, less a couple pieces of fruit I nibbled on.

The Urban Tea Merchants staff come from a variety of cultures, and speak numerous languages in case you have out of towners, or want to brush up on your French or perhaps Japanese.  Their onsite tea sommelier, Reza Nasooti, is frequently on site in case you have any intricate questions about the tea program or teas, and even if you don’t I would suggest introducing yourself as he always has some interesting tidbit of information to offer.

While the Year of the Dragon tea is only on until January, check back for the Valentine’s Tea Service and their unique Cherry Blossom tea.