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first course

I took my mom and grandmother to our favorite tea room, Shamrock, Rose, & Thistle, for Mother’s Day. I ordered the Serene Green – Chinese green tea, chamomile, lemon grass and peppermint. The flavor of the peppermint was prominent but not overpowering. I could definitely detect the chamomile and lemon grass. Amazing aroma and heavenly taste! My mom and grandmother chose the iced Crime of Passion (Papaya pieces, sunflower petals and criminally exotic passion fruit notes infuse superior green tea) and gave it rave reviews.

tea sandwiches

We enjoyed the Abbey Garden Tea with a first course of tomato-basil soup, ham & leek quiche, and lemon-poppyseed tea cake. Our second course consisted of a three-tier tray with scones (served with lemon curd, Devonshire cream, and jam), tea sandwiches – smoked salmon with capers and cream cheese, baguette with brie and peaches, and roast beef on wheat, and last, but definitely not least, the desserts: toffee-coconut blondies, chocolate cake with fresh raspberries, and fresh fruit served with mascarpone cheese in phylo.

dessert tray

Afterwards, I began pondering what the pros do to get that perfect cup of tea. Lately, I’ve been hooked on Earl Grey by Bigelow Tea with a teaspoon of local honey. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty pleased with my daily cup, but being the inquisitive girl I am, I couldn’t help but wonder how I could make it better.

Well, I found exactly what I was looking for at the Mark T. Wendell Tea Company. I paid particular attention to the brewing tips for black and green teas as I favor those. MTWTC recommends steeping green tea for 2-3 minutes in 170-180° F water and 4-5 minutes in 190-200° F water for black tea.

Now, I’m thinking I should make the switch from tea bags to loose tea using either a French press or filtering the leaves after brewing in a teapot. Why would I want to do this when tea bags are so convenient? Check out Bagged Tea vs Loose Leaf at The Tea Scoop. Need more convincing? Watch Alton Brown’s tea tutorial.

 

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas…I sure did!

blog-shamrock-rose-thistle-001

Ah, Shamrock, Rose & Thistle…a charming little tea shop in the heart of Springhill (one of Mobile’s oldest and most prestigious areas). My first experience at SR&T was when I took my mom there for Mother’s Day. We enjoyed the Abbey Garden Formal Afternoon Tea: Traditional English style afternoon tea served on a three tier tray, with a first course consisting of specialty soup, salad, or quiche, tea bread and your choice of tea.

Tier 1:      Fruit and scones with lemon curd, preserves, and Devonshire Cream.
Tier 2:      Selection of tea sandwiches and savories.
Tier 3:      Selection of homemade desserts.

My mom and I visited SR&T for lunch today. We selected the Abbey Garden Tea. Our first course consisted of an Early Grey infused pear salad with proscuitto and a ham and leek quiche. Our second course (pictured below) consisted of: cherry-amaretto scones, tea sandwiches (ham & pineapple, smoked salmon & cream cheese, and spinach, bacon, & tomato), and dessert (maple tarts, spiced rum cupcakes, and snowbars with white chocolate and raspberry). So delicious! I enjoyed the Royal Bengal Tiger tea and mom had the Crime of Passion. Her tea was so fragrant and tasted as good as it smelled!

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The time before, mom ordered their tomato basil soup and I chose their mushroom soup. Both were delectable! We decided on the strawberry-kiwi tea, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

The service at SR&T is top-notch and the atmosphere is elegant, yet relaxing. If you’re in a more casual mood, you can take a seat at the tea bar, which is is a cross between a British family pub (no alcohol) and a small British grocery store. They also have a fabulous gift shop featuring Crabtree and Evelyn, Royal Doulton, Portmeirion, San Francisco Music Box, Ne’ Qua Art, Fitz and Floyd, and Bearington Bears Collection.

Check ’em out at http://www.shamrockroseandthistle.com/. They have some great pics on their site of the tea rooms, tea bar, and gift shop as well as their menu items. Also, their gelateria/patisserie will be open soon…I can hardy wait! Since this is a small, locally-owned business, I would recommend calling ahead for reservations as seating is limited. Cheerio!

I just learned a cool tip for making iced tea! I watched Tyler Florence on Food Network make an Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade). According to Tyler, you should only steep your tea for 5 minutes, but that’s not the cool part. He makes a simple syrup to sweeten each glass of tea instead of sweetening the entire pitcher. I tried this last week and it tasted great. It can be slightly inconvenient (especially if you and those you live with like your tea the same way), but would be a great idea when hosting guests since people’s preferences differ.

Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

You can store the syrup in your fridge as long as you use an air-tight container.

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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