When I moved to the UK for college, drinking tea somehow naturally became a part of my daily ritual. It was as if I was instinctively trying to soak in the British flair of things. After moving back however, tea took the backseat in my mind and my drinking habits. Well that's about to change!
Last weekend, Billy flew in to Prague from Copenhagen for a quick weekend trip and as was expected, we took the city by storm. When my good friend Stando (who runs the natural wine bar Veltlin in Prague) heard that Billy is coming, he completely surprised me by putting together a wonderful (and intense) program for us on Saturday afternoon. First stop - tea tasting at Tea Mountain, which conveniently happens to be right next door to Veltlin.
The shop is just the perfect size with around 4 tables to sit down at, plus seating at the bar. You can find an array of tea pots and cups of all shapes, sizes and colors hanging on the walls - ceramics heaven. We sat at the bar where we were greeted by the absolutely brilliant and warm Honza who works there. A truly zen man, he was calm, cool and collected and made me feel as if he was wrapping me up in a cozy blanket by the fireplace when he spoke.
Taking us through many many tea samples, we learned about maceration temperatures and lengths, fermentation of tea leaves and the effects it has on taste and health benefits, vintage teas. Vintage teas! Who knew that vintage tea was even a thing. During truly exceptional harvests and seasons, some producers package these teas that can last for years and years. We had one sample that was from 1998 and the flavor was spectacular - very mild and nuanced, soothing compared to the younger, more punchy samples. They have an array of green, black and rooibos samples, all meticulously and beautifully packaged. One particular rooibos sample was stunning in it's aroma - I had a cold that weekend so completely congested nose, but when Honza opened the box of orange rooibos at the other side of the bar, even I immediately smelled the intense beautiful aroma. Stando claims this particular tea is the best lemonade in the summer when cold macerated over night - I'll definitely have to try.
Also just a friendly warning - there's caffeine in tea too (surprise surprise) so my advice is don't drink 4 cups of coffee before going to a tea tasting like I did. At one point I thought I was going to get a heart attack, albeit in the best possible way.
What was truly interesting was trying matcha for the first time. Matcha has been a craze amongst my friends and the online world for a while now but I'd never actually tasted the tea itself. The ritual behind making it - heating the bowl so it doesn't cool the tea down, sieving the tea so you don't get residual powder balls, frothing it so it has the proper foam.. It was very very interesting and I LOVED the taste. A green energy bomb. Below you can watch a video of the entire ritual as well as the final, yummy result.
The entire experience was educational, calming and incredibly fun. Thank you Stando for organizing, Honza for being such a wonderful host and Billy for asking the right questions. Definitely visit when you're in Prague - so worth it. Now time to go make some tea.