Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tea with Anamika Singh : when a master Tea-Taster pours tea for you and educates you about tea blends and more...

                                           
Adding to what we all know in this age of global knowledge and lifestyle disorders, how teas are beneficial for health, how they are processed to give maximum benefits.

 I was invited to a Tea and food pairing event hosted by Sewara Hospitality, Anandini Himalaya Tea and Chef at Large. Anandini Himalaya Tea is Anamika's own brand and she has introduced a few exotic Tea blends. A lovely smile with some refreshing tea to talk about, that sums up this passionate tea connoisseur.

It was a thrilling experience as I love my teas and keep experimenting myself with different blends. So this concept is fairly new in our country to pair different teas with food through the different courses. I am so glad Anamika has introduced this to us. My own teas through the day are mostly stand alone teas and I have never thought of having a warm or iced cup of tea with my meals. Now may be the picture will be more greener. Anamika will be glad to know that the husband is contemplating renouncing the adrak waali chai in favor of the more orthodox teas. I am glad as we already stock about 6-8 types of teas in our pantry all the time.

This event was held at The Lodi, the garden restaurant which is a property of Sewara Hospitality, somewhere you would love to be in any season. We reached a little late and were greeted by Camera flashes, some wonderful smiles and with this lovely Rosy Iced tea as we settled down.


 This welcome drink was an Iced tea . Green tea, Rose petals and Mint.


Very refreshing Rose flavor, Mint is perceived as a subtle middle note which is very tough to achieve in my opinion. Mint is so easy to get overpowering and yet this tea gives you just a hint of mint. Green tea plays a gracious host to these two aromatic herbs in this tea. It was lovely. I had two of these.

Anamika introduced us to the different teas, the orthodox tea and the CTC and how they are harvested and processed till they reach our cuppa. A warm cozy ambiance and everything you love to talk about. Anamika is so passionate about her teas that she would evoke the dormant tea lover in you within minutes.


 The next tea came with the aperitif , a Green tea, Chamomile and Rose hip concoction with Asparagus Tips with Parmesan and Mustard emulsion and a Romanian toast.


The non vegetarian aperitif was grilled sole with butter and Parmesan with a spring of Dill. This single spring of Dill was such a delight to pop in with the last bite I tell you.


Chamomile is one of my favorite teas. And this one served in a shot glass had a very potent Chamomile taste ending with a tangy Rose hip whiff. A lovely combination to start with. This tea blended so well with the Parmesan and mustard emulsion that I kept licking the cheese sauce and sipping the tea alternately. Almost opposite flavors complementing and enhancing each other so well.

The grilled Sole was delicately flavored with butter and Parmesan and this sole spring of Dill felt like a blast on the palate. Yum.


Anamika pouring some more of this tea for us. I must have had three shots of this one. The delicate flavors of fish get accentuated by this Chamomile and Rose hip tea. Even a palate spoiled by sharp Indian spices will be able to appreciate this fish and tea together. Wonderful.




Main course came with a Green tea, Rhododendron and Himalayan Tulsi blend. Served in a white cup and saucer. Deep golden color, a sweet and sour flavor of Rhododendron with subtle Tulsi. Served with Pickled Mozarella with fresh tomatoes with an in house pesto(no lemon, no vinegar) and a Gruyere Spinach and sun dried Tomato Quiche.





Here is the yummy Quiche with cheese and sun dried and some fresh Tomatoes. A subtle sharpness of cheese and tomatoes, earthy Spinach and this aromatic Chamomile and Himalayan Tulsi-green Tea. Accentuating each other so well. I realised the tea can enhance the taste of the delicately flavored food you are eating and you might like not be a slave of the spices for a change.


The mild flavors of fresh ingredients are to be enjoyed in  it's full glory and the tea helps in it. Something I learnt in this event. No wonder having a Tea instead of a Wine can be as enjoyable.


Next was a Summer flush tea with Rose petals and Lemon balm. I was not able to get the tea as having so many aromatic teas one after the other for more than an hour had exhausted my olfactory nerves. It happens as the senses of smell can get saturated and cannot detect a new smell anymore. Anamika understood and ordered a glass of water for me. And viola, I could have the top note of lemon balm very clearly. Magic.

Slightly higher on the Tannin, this tea is heavier so to speak. The strength of the tea as we generally know about the Tannin content.


There was this Falafel, Hummus and Pita bread with this tea. I liked the Hummus quite a lot as it was rich with Tahini the way I love it. Pita and Falafel didn't do anything for this Lemon Balm and rose petals infused green tea. On the other hand there was a non vegetarian option of Coriander Lamb kabab with a yogurt and Mint dip (if I remember correctly). The tea suited really well with the light spicy Lamb kabab. It was not spicy up to the Indian traditional level and that helped in enjoying the tea and the kababs both together.

You would wonder why a tea should be paired with a meal as we already have an option of many other drinks for the purpose. I would say if you have been having a Coke, a Beer or a cocktail with your meals think twice about it and switch to a healthier option. Even Wine drinkers who want a non alcoholic option can rely on Green tea as it contains as good Polyphenols (Flavonoids or antioxidants) as Wine. Tea is as healthy as it can get.

All teas come from the same plant called Camelia sinensis, Green tea, Oolong and Black tea namely, all of them are different in the way they are processed and in the composition of Catechin polyphenols and the Tannins they have. Green tea is considered healthier because of the Catechin polyphenols, particularly Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful antioxidant and hunts for free radicals, cancer sells and Thrombosis in the body. 

Green tea retains all of it's EGCG just because the tea leaves are processed minimally to make green tea leaves, just a light steaming and drying. The green tea leaves are not oxidised in the process and preserve the polyphenols. While the Oolong and Black tea requires a slow fermentation to get the strength and tannins in the cuppa. Oolong requires semi oxidation and falls between the Green and Black tea regarding health benefits.

In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as Resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers. Text quoted from this site.

No wonder the Chinese have known about the benefits of green tea for more than 4000 years. I feel bad about the fact that the British introduced tea in India just because they saw a cultivation possibility here but introduced the cheapest variety of tea to the Indian populace. I remember my grandmother telling us the stories of how hot milky tea was brought on streets with a loudspeaker announcing that this wonderful hot milky tea was great for you. Distributing the Chai for free in the initial days.They literally made the common Indian addicted to the milky Chai and kept exporting the superior teas all over the world.

Now that the Tea cultivation is in Indian hands and more and more Indians are becoming aware of the benefits of green tea, it is a good time to take it forward as a drink to accompany your meals. It will be great for prevention of all the lifestyle diseases we are all prone to.

University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. Study quoted from this site.

Being a strong anti oxidant Green tea is a great daily drink, but just be careful not to go overboard with it. It is a great diuretic and can make your water intake nullified, more if you count the cups of tea as your quota of water intake for the day. Secondly, it has some caffeine too, which is very low compared to Coffee but it depends on how tolerant you are to caffeine and how much Calcium is available to you through dietary habits. Caffeine is known to leach calcium from the skeletal system if you consuming too much caffeine on a daily basis. Although it is very difficult to go overboard with caffeine if you are drinking green tea. 

Back to the lovely evening we spent talking more about the teas...

The dessert arrived in the form of a generous wedge of cheesecake. Vanilla cheesecake. And the tea was First flush tea with Lavender and lemon grass. Served in a slim shot glass.

How can you go wrong with this soothing healing combination. You would love to have this tea after a dinner till you sleep. I mean I can have a whole potful of this tea till I fall asleep.


The lightly sweetened cheesecake, exactly the way I like my desserts was the best thing to sum up this lovely evening. Soothing Lavender and slightly tangy Lemon grass which comes across as the first note in this tea is great.

I must thank Sid Khullar and Anamika Singh for inviting me to this wonderful evening and Sushmita Sarkar and Rekha Kakkar for making a lovely company in a garden restaurant. Anamika Singh can be contacted personally if you want to know more or get her exotic tea blends.
Here is her mail id anandinihimalayatea@gmail.com .

I hope the information about tea, particularly green tea is helpful for some of my readers. If you are a tea lover, you would like to store your tea leaves in an opaque glass or metal container, to avoid oxidation and away from humidity to protect the tea from contamination of fungus etc. I would do another post on how to make the perfect cup of green tea for yourself..

 Would love to hear from you all.

6 comments:

  1. it was a wonderful session and very informative too!!

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  2. Well written....Had a pleasure to be in the audience and enjoyed the experiencing tea pairing with food...first of its kind :-)

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  3. Very nicely written,,,:) thanks for them info about the green tea

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  4. Well written, very informative and convincing..:) and photographs r very nice n lively.

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  5. Well written, passionate, informative and tempting..:)The photographs are excellent as always.

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  6. Hi Sangeeta....wonderfuly beautiful post....where can we buy loose green tea leaves or some of which u use in ur regaular practice, if i want to buy online? Can you please share some good quality green teas that i can buy online?

    Madhulika

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