Who: Atera, 77 Worth Street, New York 10013
What: This two-Michelin starred restaurant’s tea selection includes a range of white, green, black and oolong teas from Japan, China, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. A ‘tea progression’—in which ve teas are selected and paired with di erent parts of the menu—is available to go along with executive chef Ronny Emborg’s 18-course tasting menu. Says wine director Morten Magh: “In the summer, we usually serve the rst one cold, so we do a cold infusion over three to ve days. Then we select the rest of the teas based on avour and intensity. The Darjeeling 2nd Flush, Nom Ring Upper Estate, for instance, has notes of dried red fruit and berries, and some pronounced tannin, which is quite similar to the red wine style we serve for our Foie Gras, Peanut Butter and Black Currant dish.”
Chris Day, an ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier, is the dining room manager and person in charge of the tea programme at three-Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park, New York. He shares how he develops his tea list.
How did you start getting interested in tea?
In 2001, after 12 years in the business, I decided to take a year off from drinking alcohol. During that time, my palate, which had been trained in wine, started picking up nuances of flavour in
my tea bag brews that were reminiscent of fine wine: I noticed that concepts like terroir, aroma, oxidation, astringency, body and palate applied to tea too. That was when I contacted Sebastian Beckwith from In Pursuit of Tea and started developing my first tea list at chef Rick Moonen’s RM restaurant in Manhattan.
How large is your tea list?
Our tea list consists of 40 to 50 tea and herbal selections. We offer a range of loose leaf options from China, Taiwan, Japan, India and Sri Lanka and have included choices from Hawaii and Nepal. We’re looking to add brews from Africa and Korea—we want to provide a representative
selection of major styles from around the world. Our goal is to create a tea menu that is put together with the same rigour as a wine list. We can now offer individual pairings of tea or incorporate them into the framework of a non-alcoholic pairing.
How do you categorise the tea list?
Our list is divided into three sections: By the Pot, Reserve and Tableside. By the Pot teas are simpler and offer their best in one steeping. They are brewed Western-style in the back of the house before being brought out to the guests. With the Reserve selections, we leave the strainer and tea leaves at the table when we bring the tea out. The Tableside teas (prepared at the table) such as Phoenix ‘Ya Sai’ and Golden Water Turtle tend to be the most complex and require three or more steepings to reveal their full essence.
What’s your thought process when it comes to tea pairings?
I tend to use the same approach as I would with wine pairings. First, taste a dish and get a sense of their flavours. Second, talk to the guests and find out their preferences. Then, think about where you want to go with the course. Also keep in mind the pairing that came before as well as the ones that will follow. We have done tea pairings such as: Golden Water Turtle Wuyi Shan oolong Tea with Dry-aged Roasted Duck with Lavender Honey, Coriander, Szechuan Peppercorn and Apricot; and Anhui Yellow Tea with Long Island Squid with Bell Pepper and Tomato.
Who: Gauthier Soho, 21 Romilly Street, London W1D 5AF
What: French restaurant Gauthier Soho uses a small selection of artisanal teas sourced by tea supplier Lalani & Co. Rather than strongly scented infusions, they are inclined towards delicately avoured oolong and green and white teas, mainly from India, but also from Japan, Nepal and Taiwan. A ‘Tea Flight Menu’ made up of three teas—a Himalayan jade oolong, a Kyoto rst ush sencha and a white tea from Yunnan—is available to go along with their food menus. Says James Lewis, the restaurant’s creative development and marketing manager, “When designing tea menus for dishes, we use the same process we do for wine. We look for opposites, such as acidity when matching creamy dishes. It also works the other way around: a sweet tea matches well with rich desserts. Darjeelings often have a soft sweetness which is almost grape-like.”
Who: Momofuku Seiōbo, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Level G, Sydney NSW 2009
What: Asian-European fusion restaurant Momofuku Seiōbo serves several kinds of tea under their non-alcoholic pairing for the tasting menu. The current selection comprises chilled, hot, fermented and cloudy textural teas. Sommelier Ambrose Chiang says the teas selected for the pairings are brewed especially for the dishes, so they are “more intense in flavour than the ones for drinking on their own”. For instance, the Chilled Green Tea with Coconut Shavings and Lemon Splice accompanies courses such as “Salted Blue Eye Cod, Koji Butter which features fresh seafood and briny notes; and Beans, Pistachio, Charcoal Grilled Marron, Koji which has a savoury, nutty profile”.
Who: Beni Singapore, 333A Orchard Road, #04-16 Mandarin Gallery
What: The decision to have a significant tea list at Japanese- French restaurant Beni arose out of head chef Kenji Yamanaka’s preference not to drink alcohol and his acquaintance with the founder of Royal Blue Tea—a Kanagawa- based producer that cold-brews premium teas. Some Royal Blue Teas on offer here are Jewel of Flowers Hana, a jasmine tea from Fujian, and Masa premium, a sencha from Shizuoka. Group sommelier Hiromi Muraoka notes that tea pairing works on the same principles as wine pairing. “The Gyokuro Houjicha Kaho, a mellow roasted tea, goes very well with our Ozaki Wagyu dish (roasted Ozaki beef, sliced truffle, potato purée, madeira wine sauce), which is rich in taste,” she says.
Who: CUT by Wolfgang Puck, 2 Bayfront Avenue, B1-71, Galleria Level, Marina Bay Sands
What: For an American Steakhouse, the range of teas here is extensive, standing at 22 types of tea, 12 of which are Chinese including five types of Pu-erh, such as the 1998 raw Pu-erh from the Menghai Tea Factory. They also use three Chinese teas—jasmine, lapsang souchong and oolong—for their six tea infusion cocktails. General manager Paul Joseph says that they don’t have a specific tea pairing menu but can recommend the best type of brew to pair with their food. Pu-erh teas, for example, go well with their steaks.
Photography by Kathy YL Chan