As a Brit, I am used to my classic and familiar, comforting teas. English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Ceylon, Rooibos and Earl Grey are no strangers to my teapot and dare I say, I love to add a tiny little nuage or cloud of milk to my cuppa, which probably has tea connoisseurs throwing their hands up in horror. More French in style, the evenings call for lighter, calming infusions such as verbena and a widening range in my cupboard of fragrant green teas.
So when I heard from my sweet friend, Francis, about an exciting launch last week of a tea made by creator, Guillaume Leleu (aka l’Insolent Parisian) of Theodor Tea, I had to see what the fuss was about and headed with a strong umbrella to face the Parisian downpour to join him for the tasting at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
The launch was all about Theodor’s new J.C. Absolu Oolong. For a start, I loved the name and was intrigued…
Before the tasting, Monsieur Leleu took us on passionately guided “voyage in the garden of creation” of his Chinese Oolong green tea.
Theodor has been around in Paris since 2002 and within just a few years it now exports to over 30 countries. It has been three years since the Impertinent Parisian created a new tea for Theodor and creating such a tea like this doesn’t just happen overnight. It took 20 months to create this perfumed oolong, needing 230 versions to arrive at the final result.
These lotus flowers give an added “je ne sais quoi” to the taste (although I’ve never tasted lotus flower so have to try this experience) and there are strong natural aromas of both white peach and pear in there too. The addition of goji berries and carthame flowers add to the magic.
The addition of the white cornflowers (bottom right test tube below) were purely for blending the tea naturally together, as there is absolutely no fragrance in white cornflowers. Who knew?
The tasting! According to the instructions on the packet, the water should be at 75°-85°C and the tea infused for 2.5 to 4 minutes. On tasting at first, the peach came bursting through but gradually I got the pear (some tea tasters mentioned that the pear became more pronounced as the tea cooled) – and the aftertaste? Knock out!
If I had a stop-watch, I’d say it lasted a couple of minutes on the palate. Oh, and Francis reminded me that Oolong tea is a Tieguanyin tea from China from the region of Fujian.
Surprised? I was when cheeses were served with the tea. As a wine lover, I was expecting them to overpower the tea but no, it was a wonderful combination. François (pictured below) explained that it’s quite the thing in Belgium and in Holland, Betty Koster is quite a cheese and tea guru. The brie came stuffed with truffles from the Maison de la Truffe. Woah! The tea was still sensational.
What a fabulous team at Theodor. Cheers to the lovely staff who came from Normandy to serve tea for the occasion, away from Picorette, their legendary restaurant and tea salon in Granville. Many thanks to Maria and Sylvie for a most warming welcome and to Guillaume Leleu for the discovery of this rather special teatime tipple. I look forward to serving it with the Parisian pastries in Teatime in Paris!
I wonder what Monsieur Leleu is dreaming up for his next tea creation?
In the meantime, pop in to the Theodor boutique at 28 rue des Sablons in the 16th, near Trocadéro. I shall also discover and show you what the other teas are about next time and what pastries from the book will accompany them best.
Note: This was a free tasting open to the public at the Palais Tokyo in Paris on 30 April 2015.