“Upon these leaves,
the monk found enlightenment;
the coolie, a warm respite;
the emperor, wisdom to rule his subjects;
the master, perfection;
the ladies of the court, perfection;
and the lovers, intimacy.”
(Monch Puentebella, “An Ode to Tea”)
It all started one Saturday in April, when my younger brother and I went to Makati since he has not been there yet. While walking around Greenbelt 5, I saw a certain place in gold and wood and invited my brother to come inside. The sights were wonderful – tins in different colours adorned the place, teapots were on the shelves, and pastries and sweets were displayed all around. Basically, the place resonated with class. And that place was TWG Tea. Unfortunately, that moment of bliss was cut short; upon seeing the exorbitant costs of their wares, I told my younger brother that “we’re too poor for this” and left. But deep inside, I really wanted to try out the place in all its class.
Fortunately, I had my chance – TWG had opened a branch in Rockwell Power Plant Mall. I immediately filed a vacation leave and took the chance to dine at this wonderful tea lounge. The moment I walked towards the mall’s Archaeology Wing (where the new branch was located), I felt the same feeling of awe, just like the first time I encountered TWG. And now, my dream of dining here is coming true!
But what exactly is this TWG Tea I’m talking about? According to their main website (www.twgtea.com/aboutus.html), “TWG Tea, which stands for The Wellness Group, is a luxury concept that incorporates an international distribution network to professionals, unique and original retail outlets and exquisite tea rooms. Offering over 800 single estate fine harvest teas and exclusive blends, as well as tea patisseries and other tea infused delicacies, TWG Tea is internationally recognized as a veritable innovator with the creation every season of new varieties of tea in collaboration with the world’s most renowned estates.”
Alright, enough of the introductions. TWG Tea Rockwell Branch has a rather small space, but I believe this contributes to its classy ambience. It’s like you went back in time to a British tea room, enjoying the afternoon with the lords and ladies of the court. The lounge is conveniently partitioned from the rest of the mall, lending an air of privacy and intimacy. As soon as I stepped inside, the receptionist immediately asked me how many tables I want, to which I answered “just one”. An assigned server then escorted me to my table.
At last, my first pot of Chocolate Earl Grey has arrived. One pot typically contains enough tea for 4 to 5 cups. The tea has an initial scent of bergamot orange as soon as it is poured into the cup. I added a little sugar so the chocolate taste will emerge – and it did. The chocolate taste comes alive and pronounced that it even rolls in the aftertaste of the tea. This tea got me hooked from the first cup! (Speaking of cups, TWG’s tea cups are specially designed; feel free to ask them.) Moments later, my food arrived in a three-level tray.
The top layer comprised of tea jelly and whipped cream. The jelly is infused with tea and serves as a substitute to jam, and they use whipped cream as compared to clotted cream in England (which is very high in calories, as I once read). The middle layer consisted of 2 muffins – chocolate and raspberry. Sadly, they failed to impress as they were dry and crumbly as compared to traditional moist muffins. The last layer was the savoury component of the set. It was a Croque Imperial sandwich, mainly smoked salmon and Emmenthal cheese infused with one of their signature teas. The Croque Imperial came with a green salad on the side, which provided a break to the strong flavour of the salmon and cheese.
I shifted my attention to the three macarons that came with the set. I chose Napoleon Tea & Caramel, Earl Grey Fortune & Chocolate, and Matcha among their selection of flavors (the Matcha flavour was relatively new, I was told). Since I ran out tea already, I ordered another pot of Chocolate Earl Grey. By the way, a pot of tea outside the set costs P195 or more depending on the variant. Believe it or not, the most expensive tea in TWG costs P1,595 a pot. Let’s go back to the macarons; of the three, the Napoleon Tea & Caramel macaron was the best – I didn’t need sugar with my tea whilst eating it as the caramel filling’s sweetness was enough. The Earl Grey Fortune & Chocolate had a rather subtle taste of tea, and the Matcha had the right amount of green tea flavour without being too grassy (although I’d prefer it with green tea just like the Japanese do).
An hour had already passed since I entered TWG and experienced class like never before. Once I finished my meal, I asked for the total bill – it was about P1200 (with a 10% service charge), but it was worth it. Little did I know that this would be the first of my escapades at this slice of high society called TWG Tea. Before I end this, I would like to apologize for the long delay of this entry as I was redundiated from work last Monday and I only had the time to work on this just now. Until the next entry, bon appetit.