I think I’m in love. And to find love in Minneapolis? Who’da thunk it? Harney & Sons Pu-Erh may have just encouraged me to end my love affair with Irish Breakfast Tea.
While in Minn for a conference, I decided that for once in my working life I would use an afternoon break for my own pleasure. I searched for afternoon tea opportunities and found a convenient offering at the Hotel Ivy. Served in the hotel lobby from 3-5 p.m. daily, I was greeted with fast, friendly (though rather flirty) service. My server surprised me with his advanced knowledge of the tea blends offered, so we were off to a good start.
When the tea arrived, it had been steeped perfectly, with the leaves removed. Hooray! (Leaving the tea leaves in the pot and having to strain each cup may feel like a fun ritual, but the taste overdevelops and can make the whole pot taste bitter). I was a bit hesitant about the tea choice, since I am not typically a fan of smoky teas, but upon first sip, my tastebuds thought they had died and gone to tea heaven. With just a whisper of smoke, the overall flavor was robust, earthy, and satisfied my entire palate. There was an internal struggle of chugging the whole pot while it was at its peak of heat and flavor or sipping it slowly to make it last. I sipped.
I should have let that be the entire moment, but I waited for tea goodies that had been promised. An elegant presentation of sweet and savory.
I’m sorry Hotel Ivy, but on this, I’m going to have to pull a Simon Cowell and say, “This was an utter dis-ahster.”
Presentation: fabulous. Atmosphere: great. Server: knowledgeable. Sweets: perfectly balanced amuses bouches. Savories: Aaaack! We begin with a deviled egg, nicely deviled but with too much egg. Trout eggs to be precise. Please understand, though native from Boise, I have become at peace with the California lifestyle including much indulgence in sushi. A little raw fish or caviar never hurt anyone. But trout roe on a perfectly good deviled egg is a bit much. Next. A beet coronet of herbed goat cheese. I like beets. I like herbs. I like goat cheese. A lot. I do not, however, like a lot of goat cheese, and this was entirely too much. There was not enough of the beet mini tortilla (for lack of a better description) to balance the (what seemed like) pounds of creamed goat cheese. Next. A forgettable cracker with something-or-other on it. Next. A mini toast or cracker with a white anchovy and slivers of red pepper. Again, I like fish, I like sushi, I like Caesar salad with heavily anchovied dressing. I do not, however, like an entire anchovy wound up in a tight swirl on a cracker with no other flavors to balance to extreme fishiness of the situation. I think they need to just stick with tea.
And what a wonderful tea it was…