“Whether it’s jasmine flowers or bergamot peels,
special, finest, tippy, golden, flowery, orange, pekoe, or first quality;
to me it is the Elixir of Life,
the miraculous brew,
the water of the Fountain of Youth.”
(Monch Puentebella, “An Ode To Tea”)
I became excited when I heard the news of a TWG Tea branch to be opened at the new East Wing of EDSA Shangri-La Plaza. Whenever I visit the Ortigas-Shaw area, Shangri-La is always the very last mall I go to as it is situated at the very end of the vicinity (along Shaw Boulevard). The presence of an MRT station in the area linked to the mall grants me a quick mode of transportation. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all luxury – there are some stores there selling food and other items at reasonable prices (such as Mercury Drug and Bakers Fresh).
After some weeks of waiting, I found out that the aforementioned TWG branch was already open. I decided to give the new place a try, since it was payday. I was rather sleepy that time since I was on the night shift, we went to Makati after work to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and I managed to have a few bottles of beer during the celebration. I didn’t take the MRT anymore – choosing to ride a bus instead – as it was rather crowded and I wanted to have a few moments of sleep at least. It was already a long day, and I haven’t been at home yet.
I arrived at EDSA Shangri-La at 1:00 pm, 90 minutes after I rode the bus from Ayala. Going down the bus, I walked towards the mall and went straight to their new branch. It was similar to their Rockwell branch – enclosed in glass partitions with the TWG logo, but this one was larger. I entered the place and got a table for one, as usual. It was a Saturday and TWG offers a different menu every weekend – in this case, their brunch menu. My breakfast was six hours earlier, and I haven’t eaten anything ever since that. Given that I had money that time due to yesterday night being payday, I chose to order something from their brunch menu: the Aviator Brunch set (P800).
The Aviator weekend brunch set consisted of the following: a pot of tea from their collection, scones or muffins with tea jelly and whipped cream, a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice, the Aviator salad (which this brunch set is named after), and a tea-infused dessert. My choices were New York Breakfast for the tea, scones, a glass of apple juice (you can choose from apple or orange), and their Singapore Surprise dessert. Now that makes a heavy lunch meal.
Finally, the brunch set was served. First on the list was the Aviator Salad, the main highlight of the set. It consisted of tomatoes, romaine lettuce, croutons and grilled chicken with cheese and a soft-boiled egg with a seaweed and flour crust – all tea-infused and tossed in a light spicy sauce (which is tea-infused likewise). I liked this meal for a start since it was light with the vegetables in it, coupled with the croutons and chicken. I didn’t even taste a small hint of the “light spicy sauce” or the dressing they used in this dish. What gave this dish an exceptional rating from me would be the soft-boiled egg topping. Pardon me for the lame pun, but it was “egg”-celently prepared; the crisp outer coating provided texture to the soft-boiled egg inside. The coated egg with flecks of seaweed, together with the croutons and grilled chicken, made this salad so unforgettable that the moment I first tasted the dish still lingers in my mind.
Now, moving on to the other offerings. I won’t mention much about the scones with tea jelly and whipped cream anymore, as I have included them in my previous post (dining at TWG Greenbelt) and the quality of their scones are consistent with the other branches. If you want exceptional quality raisin scones, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s raisin scone is my top choice when it comes to size and taste (more on that in the future). TWG’s Singapore Surprise, however, delivers a wonderful surprise indeed. I ordered a slice of this as part of the brunch set. It was a crème brulee dessert with strawberries and a crust made from graham crackers. Think of leche flan with strawberries on the crust they use for blueberry cheesecake. Surprisingly, it’s good with tea since it’s sweet – but the strawberries had a rather medicinal taste to it. They just need to minimize this medicinal taste in order for Singapore Surprise to get plus points.
Of course, a meal at TWG isn’t complete with their signature drinks. The freshly squeezed apple juice is fantastic; you get what you pay for since it really tastes like apple (with some of the pulp included). My only comment about it would be that it’s rather overpriced – P180 for a glass. As usual, I tried their New York Breakfast tea once more – and this time, I managed to taste the chocolate this tea is known for. It kept me awake as with English Breakfast, and the tea tasted better with milk. Accompanying the Singapore Surprise dessert that capped off my meal (since the NY Breakfast ran out) was their Chocolate Tea. This was more straightforward, with an equal blend of tea and chocolate. It paired off nicely with milk, and I didn’t add sugar anymore as the Singapore Surprise is already sweet on its own.
Well, that’s it with my TWG series for now. The only branch I need to visit would be their flagship store at Resorts World Manila, but it’s really far from where I live. Aside from that, the minimum damage to my wallet typically ranges from P1000 – P1200 – but I have no regrets. In the course of my visits to TWG, I believe that I got what I paid for. With the luxury and ambiance that TWG Tea entails, I’ll try my best to come back for another meal and savor the finest things that life has to offer. And with TWG Edsa Shangri-La being open, I can simply take a train ride when my craving for tea kicks in.
Until then, bon appetit.