I really don’t go to many teas anymore. I once had to write about my favorite teas in London and had one full cream tea a week for five weeks straight. I defy anyone to even look at a scone and clotted cream the same way after that. Still, there is one invitation to tea I never pass up and that is for JING Tea. I had been to several tastings, one for breakfast, one with Michelin Star Indian Cuisine, but never for traditional Afternoon Tea with a capital A and T.
Our host for the afternoon was the lovely Four Seasons Park Lane, where they were in the midst of celebrating the seasons with their new ‘Journey through British Summertime’ menu.
As it was the hottest day of the year, we were kept nice and cool in the Amaranto tea room. The welcome sip of Jasmine Silver Needle Cold Infusion almost whisked me straight to Southeast Asia where Jasmine is ever present. As the sandwiches arrived, I was pulled straight right back to the town I call home. In many countries, summer is the “get out of town” season, where the heat and humidity drive residents away. Not in London! May comes and the city explodes with events: Chelsea Flower Show, Ascot, Wimbledon, and Glyndebourne are all part of summer playtime.
Don’t be fooled but these seemingly, simple sandwiches, as they were anything but! Executive Chef Romuald Feger has created masterworks with locally sourced ingredients and his own ingenuity.
I quote from the menu as I don’t want to leave any morsel out:
- Coronation Chicken from Rhug Estate in Denbighshire with Green Apple and Raisin
- English Cucumber, Cream Cheese, Breakfast Radish and Mint
- Lambton and Jackson fresh Smoked Salmon, Sweet Pea Mousse and Lemon Balm
- Hand-picked fresh White Crab from Devon, Crème fraîche and Spring Onion
- Ploughman’s with Holden‘s Farm Cheddar Cheese and Pickles
For each type of sandwich, there was an equally glorious JING tea pairing: Hui Ming Spring with the Salmon & Crab, Lemongrass and Ginger with the Coronation Chicken and Silver Needle with the Cucumber and Cheese.
Now it was time for Executive Pastry Chef Loic Carbonnet to come up to bat. Hit a home-run he did with his take on British summer treats.
We journeyed through the season chronologically. May ushered in a gorgeous, pink and yellow Lemon and Rose Battenberg Cake, picked from the Chelsea Flower Show. Next on the summer calendar, Ascot Ladies Day reigns in June, thus a hat-inspired Roasted Kona Coffee Bean Crémeux (French for creamy), Cocoa Sable biscuit base and Hibiscus Jelly cake.
Andy Murray had just won Wimbledon, so I felt much pride in biting into the tennis-ball shaped Choux Pastry and Cherry Compote with Pistachio Crémeux and the Strawberries and Cream Lady Finger topped with Pink Champagne pearls.
Finally, I swear I could hear Violetta singing a chorus of “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” all the way from East Sussex, when tasting our Pimm’s Infused Baba with Rhubarb and Elderflower Mousse.
As we all joined in the chorus of the most famous drinking song in opera, our second Jing Tea pairing was served. Darjeeling First Flush with the Baba; bright red Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Cold Infusion to top off the Ascot Hat, and, my favorite of the day, Lis Shan to go along with a special addition to the usual tea menu. Pastry Chef Carbonnet baked a loaf cake of Apricot, Lavender & Bee Pollen Cake and each patron received a slice. He shared the recipe for it below to try and make it at home!
Scones were aplenty with the de rigueur Cornish Clotted Cream, with the added delights of homemade Lemon Curd, Yorkshire Rhubarb and Tahitian Vanilla Bean Jam and Summer Pudding Jam.
The heat has cooled down a bit as we finished, so we ventured outside to the newly opened Amaranto Terrace, still humming a bit of Puccini, while sipping a glass Veuve Clicquot!
Lavender, Apricot and Bee Pollen Cake
Lavender Infused Cream
200 gr whipping cream
16 gr Lavender buds
Place the cream and lavender buds in the fridge covered in cling film for 24 hours to infuse.
Strain the mixture and remove the lavender buds.
166 gr fresh egg
290 gr caster sugar
125 gr of Lavender Infused Cream (see above)
233 gr flour
4 gr baking powder
1 gr salt
125 gr butter
Whisk the eggs and sugar until they create a light and fluffy mix.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and leave to the side.
Add the Lavender infused cream to the whisked mixture and stir.
Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture.
Melt the butter to room temperature then add little by little to the cake mixture stirring it to make a smooth consistency, leave the mixture to the side.
Chop the dried apricot and rub it into flour.
Cover the inside of your cake tin with baking paper.
Pour 450 gr of the cake mix into the tin.
Sprinkle 100 gr of chopped dried apricot.
Pour the rest of the cake batter on the top.
Place in a fan oven for 40 minutes at 170° C.
12 gr fresh apricot puree
30 gr caster sugar
3 gr agar-agar powder
Mix the sugar and the agar-agar powder.
Heat the puree to 40° C and then add the sugar and agar-agar mix stirring with a whisk, slowly bring this to the boil.
Once cool, pipe the gel over the cake to glaze.
NB: I was the guest of the Four Seasons & JING Tea. I can’t thank them enough. Everything I write is always my own opinion!