I had dinner at The Gage in Chicago some time in October-November last year, and I was excited to see they actually had loose leaf tea on their dessert menu. I don’t remember what I had for dessert, but I do remember the tea, mainly because I brought some home with me.
This was because they served it in a teapot without a strainer. A green tea. A 2-3 cup teapot. Generous, for sure, but imagine the bitterness of the second cup, not to mention the third. I obviously didn’t have more than one, then flagged down our waiter and asked him why they were torturing their tea like that. I asked for some to bring home, and he was incredulous, because he wanted to comp a dessert, and I was like but the desserts were fine, I want tea.
What I also wanted was for them to stop serving the tea in that inane manner, and he promised they’d fix it. So dear Ji Yoon, Executive Pastry Chef – I will check up on you next time I’m in town. Oh, when will that be, you ask? The answer to that is always, sooner than you think.
A while back, I compared this to a tea by Comptoir, reviewed here: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/212008. The blood orange tea has more of a metallic/mineral tang to it, both nose wise and flavour wise, but it comes off as an aspect of the citrus, and doesn’t bother me at all in this case.
My two favourite citrus teas are the mandarine tea by Comptoir linked above, and Lupicia’s Grapefruit Green. The latter is characterized by Lupicia’s typical perfect pitch in terms of flavouring, whereas the mandarine tea is multi-faceted, well-balanced and overall just very well-executed.
This one comes off dustier and darker, but also, somehow, more exquisite than the other two. Lupicia are always so playful, so completely super fruity (yet without ever being artificial) and the mandarine tea is very French, very elegant and well put together. Being a mid-price-range restaurant tea, this logically can’t be that fine, but it does a very good job convincing me that it is.
That much said, I’d prefer some more personality and complexity – this is a very pleasing cup, but I don’t grieve not having more than six or so cups’ worth of leaf.
[Sample picked up at The Gage in Chicago, fall 2013.]