Saturday, February 24, 2007

Zensation, Bourke St, Redfern

Zensation Tea House, Bourke St, Redfern
Saturday 24 February, 2007

Zensation Tea House is located at the southern end of Bourke St just past Cleveland St. It's a cluttered space filled with Chinese lanterns, teapots and many varieties of organic, green and oolong tea.
Today we were participating in their Zensation Tea Appreciation session. This was organised as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations - for $18 pp - the invitation stated:
Enjoy a Chinese High – Tea Ceremony and Tea Appreciation Afternoon for novices and connoisseurs of China’s national drink – tea.

Learn to savour and appreciate the nuances of fragrant jasmine tea, potent Chinese green tea, delicate, golden Taiwanese (Formosa) oolong, earthy and sweet pu-erh from Yunnan and the highly prized white teas. To accompany the varieties of tea, enjoy an array of cakes and pastries and a selection of in-house Oriental-flavoured gelato in the relaxed comfort of Zensation Tea House.
We arrived at 3pm and they were still clearing up after the 1pm session. It was crowded and hot in the small space and none of the staff really knew what was happening. We stood around for a bit and were then directed inside to sit wherever we liked. We sat at a table for 4 (there were 3 of us) and were handed menus. There was no real explanation of what was going to happen so we just sat still whilst the staff rushed around aimlessly.
Finally Raymond Leung appeared and took the microphone and welcomed us all. His enthusiasm and warm, friendly manner was refreshing and put everyone at ease. He introduced the concept of tasting 9 teas over the next 2 hours and explained we would begin with white, then green, black and finally herbal teas.
We began with Silver Needle - this organic white tea is exquisite, delicate and highly prized. This is as close to the natural state of fresh tea leaves. This contains very little caffeine but a high concentration of antioxident.
Next up Long Ching - this is one of China's most famous and highly regarded green teas also known as Dragon Well. This tea possess 4 qualities of uniqueness: green colour, mellow taste, refreshing aroma and beautiful shape. This tea has a cooling effect on the body.
My favourite tea was served next - Dragon Pearls. These are hand rolled pearls of jasmine scented green tea buds. The taste combines the delicate and refreshing taste of green tea with the relaxing properties of jasmine perfume.
This was followed by Do Hong Pao - this oolong (semi-fermented) tea is the king of the famous Wu Yi Rocks teas. This tea grows in the rocks of the mountains and highly valued for both its unique smoky taste and medicinal nutrients.
Another oolong tea followed - Super Oolong (Raymond's favourite). This premium oolong is grown in Taiwan, famous for their Oolong. This is a large leafed tea that produces a honey green infusion with a misty floral fragrance and delicately sweet after taste.
Next up Tik Kuan Yin. This oolong tea is also known as iron Buddha tea and is known for its mesmerising flavour. The leaves are large and full and produce a light amber infusion with roasty and subtle floral tones.
Then we experienced a black tea - Pu-Erh. This famous vintage tea has been post fermented (stored for years after the tea leaves are prepared). Cakes of Pu-Erh increase in flavour and value with age. The infusion is dark and has a special earthy taste. This tea has medicinal benefits for lowering cholesterol and weight management. Pu-Erh is low in caffeine so very gentle on the stomach and goes particularly well with a heavy or greasy meal.
We finished with two herbal teas - Rosebud and Lemongrass - this herbal blend has long been a popular drink in Asia. Rosebuds are particularly beneficial for the skin. It is a great subtle floral infusion. And lastly Hibiscus flower - this refreshing and thirst quenching infusion produces a tart, ruby, red liquid which is rich in Vitamin C. A great digestive and delicious as sweetened and iced Summer beverage.
It did take us 2 hours to complete the different teas and we were also served a plate of Chinese biscuits - almond flavoured and candied plums. For $18 pp I thought this was reasonable but the staff (who I discovered were volunteers) did not know what was being served so couldn't explain it when it reached the table or describe what was going on - this was disappointing.
As I'm not a regular tea drinker I wouldn't rush back to Zensation but I did enjoy the tea appreciation session - it was somethign different and the tea cups and pots used were stunning.
Zensation Tea House - 656 Bourke Street, Redfern - (02) 9319 2788


Anonymous Grace said...

Hi there. Puerh tea is considered to be a red tea, not black.
Black is a different class.

4:32 pm  

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