What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear these two words?
“It’s a British thing,” my mind talks back to me.
It took me 26 years and a briefing from the son of a true tea connoisseur, to get out of the illusion. Rohak Sheth, son of Jiten Sheth explained to me that it was the French who started the practice of having tea as a meal. Under the regime of Queen Victoria, it was introduced in Great Britain.
The men behind the brand
Mr. Jiten Sheth, the owner of Tasse de Thé (TDT), has flown all over the world to give wings to his passion. He has spent precious days of his life learning about the tea culture in several European countries. From the farmers of India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, he learnt about the production process.
Tasse de Thé was formed when passion met business aptitude. The Victorian-cum-French styled vegetarian tea cafe is the brainchild of Mr.Rohak Sheth. Being the son of a gourmet, he had already developed a love for food culture, tea in particular.
Re-launching the art of drinking tea in India as a part of vegetarian healthy living
In the conversations that I had with Rohak and his brother, one thing was clear: this is a business that wants to bring a revolution. They aim to educate the masses on tea drinking culture. They communicated to me the health benefits of tea.
Tasse de Thé has more than 300 varieties of tea. Each of these has a different kind of medicinal value. I was fortunate enough to tour the tea cafe and check out the variety of tea leaves placed in transparent jars in a series of long fancy shelves. The leaves each have distinctive aromas, hues and taste. Each jar comes with a unique code.
What I found most innovative is the concept of an ‘open tea-bar’. No, this is not a place where you get alcohol. Tasse de Thé does not serve alcohol, but they do have a bar for people who would like to ‘get high on tea’. The customers are free to check out the display of tea leaves from the shelves and ask for the blend they want at the bar. Iced tea, freshly brewed hot tea, tea latte and fusion drinks – the bartender will tend to all your tea cravings!
The experts at Tasse de Thé are no short of therapists. Their research and expertise on tea is so high that they claim to recommend a guest teas based on their mood and preference.
Chandeliers, French balcony, a little piece of Europe in Mumbai
With the establishment of Tasse de Thé, another gem in crown got added to the Fort area of Mumbai. Yes, I struggled through the crowded pavements and honking vehicles to find this ‘cafestaurant’, but my effort was so much worth it. Once inside the cafestaurant, I couldn’t believe I was still in the heart of one crazy busy Indian metropolitan.
Glittering chandeliers hung from the pillared arcade. There was a kind of softness in the ambiance. I guess the softness had something to do with the way the cafestaurant had been illuminated. Every object in the Victorian-cum-French styled cafe and restaurant had been imported. That includes the chandeliers, dining tables, chairs, seats, crockery and cutlery. The motifs on the high ceiling, the motifs on the floor and the pastel shades on the wall had been painstakingly designed and kept in-sync of each other to build up the palatial aura. They made their theme clear with the addition of a French balcony.
The logo of TDT is embedded in gold. The gold rims on the crockery, the touch of gold on the chandeliers and the gold linings on the arches and walls screamed of the thoughtfulness involved in the Victorian decor.
Souvenirs and gifts
Mr.Jiten Sheth, the owner of Tasse de Thé, is a well travelled man. As I walked along the golden shimmery corridor, I was amazed to see a rich collection of teapots, cups, saucers, tea sets, mugs, tea makers, candles and cutlery. Curated by Mr.Jiten Sheth from countries like China, Japan and Korea, these souvenirs are now available for sale in India at Tasse de Thé’s website. The ‘for sale counters’ both offline and online don’t just stop at tea-accessories. The restaurant has gone one step further and made it possible for customers to enjoy the flavours of Tasse de Thé right from the comfort of their couch. In simple words, they also sell the various ready-to-brew tea leaves.
My tryst with food at Tasse de Thé
The assortment of food presented to me at Tasse de Thé was largely Mediterranean in nature. To be more specific, in this French-cum-Victorian restaurant, I enjoyed Spanish, French and Italian cuisines with some influence of Middle East.
My meal started with the Watermelon Gazpacho. The cool tanginess of the gazpacho immediately freshened up my mood. The watermelon attributed to the red tinge of the soup. The watermelon and cucumber in the soup worked together to cool my heat suffered body. The red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in the gazpacho made sure my taste buds don’t complain.
Next up on the list was Jerusalem Artichoke Soup. Artichoke is a plant grown in Europe. I hadn’t heard of or tasted it before my experience at Tasse de Thé. The other ingredient in the soup was green apples. I am a big fan of green apples. In fact I prefer green apples to red apples. The soup was a creamy blend of green apples and artichoke. The presence of truffle oil in the soup imparted the flavour and aroma of truffles.
Maple glazed pears, radishes, walnuts peeped at me through foliage of greenery. The greenery was rocket. Rocket is a Mediterranean plant of the cabbage family. Typically, the leaves are served in salads. The feta cheese invited me to forget all manners and dive straight in. The salad dish is called Rocket and Maple Glazed Pears.
The Baked Broccoli Cake must be a vegan’s delight. The cake was accompanied by tempura tofu and fried garlic. A blast of mushy and pungent flavour ruled my mouth. I also loved the aesthetics involved in serving this dish. The tomato puree was artistically served in a spiral fashion, imitating the Milky Way galaxy.
Of course, out of all these, the dish which got my maximum love was the Blueberry and Cream Cheese Ravioli. Homemade ravioli with a filling of blueberry and cream cheese was served with creamy Tunisian sauce. It was rich in a multitude of flavours. I am yearning to return to Tasse de Thé to have this dish again!
We were moving towards the end of the meal. Personally, this is my favourite part. Whenever I go to have a full course meal, I deliberately eat less in the initial half so that I can save the maximum space possible in my tummy for the sweetest part of the meal, the climax, the dessert.
The Filo Baked Brie tantalised my senses. The creamy, cheesy, juicy piece of unusual pastry captivated me with its sweetness. I remember the sound that my cutlery made while I was trying to spoon-lick the fig chutney and apricot jam served with the pastry.
The last piece of indulgence, Yogurt Parfait, arrived on my table. It was so pretty that almost a part of me didn’t want to eat it. The sinful parfait bar was topped with fresh white cream. The touch of pomegranate and mixed fruit was obvious in the creamy liquid that made this food plate a work of art. Tiny edible marigold petals were sprinkled to consolidate the Godliness.
When I came home, my husband asked, “How was it?”
I was battling for words.
“It’s not a restaurant, it’s an experience,” I replied.
Do you like drinking tea? Are you from Mumbai? Have you been there? Did you like the place? Comment below and let’s get talking!
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