Monday, October 20, 2008

Me Love Oolong Time- Te' House of Tea

Published by Commandrea (Andrea Afra) at 10:00 AM


While passing through my old neighborhood a few months back I was amazed to see the funky old washateria had been transformed into a nice looking store front. Its exterior was repainted in shades of brown, foreshadowing the natural theme within. It was a new teahouse, Té House of Tea. It took me a little while but I finally was able to return pay a visit.

Light pours in through large windows creating a clean and airy vibe inside. The attention to comfort and detail is apparent in everything from the chocolate toned overstuffed couches and chairs down to the honey swizzle sticks patrons can use to sweeten their beverages. The calming effect is immediate and the staff is friendly and informed. Retail items like Japanese tea sets, white tea perfumes and of course a large variety of loose leaf teas are available for purchase. If you are looking for a unique gift for someone special this is a charming little place to search.
Behind the counter large silver cans are labeled with the exotic names of the tea leaves they contain like Oothu, Furry Tip, and Iron Goddess of Mercy. Iron Goddess was once reserved for members of the Imperial court but is now one of the most popular teas in China. I never realized how vast the varieties of teas are. White, green, black, and oolong are just a few and there are many types of each of these. White tea is made from the fresh picked leaves therefore the cost is higher due to the need for expediency and lack of shelf life. Some white teas can cost upwards of seven hundred dollars a pound! Black tea is made of fermented leaves and green tea falls somewhere in between the two. Luckily, Connie Lacobie, a native of Hong Kong, and Alyson Bell, of Ireland, have come up with a way to showcase the best and most affordable selections of fresh brewed teas.
And what is a proper cup of tea without a proper English crumpet? The food at Té is light and perfectly designed to be paired with any drink that you should choose. The breakfast menu features scones, European muesli, and crepes to name a few. For lunch a tempting selection of panini, baguettes, salads and quiche are available. Even the desserts are made in house by my new best friend (though she doesn’t know me) Tina Parent. I had her Acapulco cake, a gorgeous layered personal sized masterpiece with hints of orange and a tear jerking chocolate mousse filling. With it I had the Yin Yang, a perfect balance of coffee and black tea with milk over ice.
I also tasted a few things that I had never tried before. On the menu is a dish called ‘Ploughman’s Lunch’. Ploughman’s Pickle is a weird British condiment of sorts. It took me some time to figure out that it wasn’t a special kind of pickled cucumber. The pickle was an assortment of vegetables made into what appeared to be a savory jelly. In it diced carrots, cauliflower, rutabaga and onions are marinated in everything from malt vinegar and molasses to dates and apples. It is smeared on buttered bread and served with brie, cheddar, tomato and boiled egg wedges atop a bed of salad. I piled it up a bit of everything on the bread and tried to force it all in my mouth. While I wasn’t too successful, what I did manage to fit in was really good.
The tofu version of the Asian salad combines simple ingredients like cabbage, crispy ramen noodles and sesame seeds to make a light meal nutritious enough to tide one over until the next meal or the next course.
The staff at Té is young and innovative which adds a great touch to the atmosphere and the kitchen creations. I enjoyed a quiche made by a young and strapping lad by the name of John who also works behind the counter. Another worker, Alex Squier, has been granted wall space for his series of prints. A few simple layers in bold colors reveal his talent. With themes from music to skateboarding the pieces are both tasteful and fun.
When I was offered to taste the fruit salad I was not prepared for what was soon placed before me. Served in a tall parfait glass the fruit salad contained several exotic ingredients like agar, mung beans, lychee and coconut gel. Coconut milk is poured over the top creating a creamy balance that ties it all together. Agar is made from seaweed and becomes gelatinous when dissolved in hot water. Seaweed has been in the news lately regarding its medicinal benefits. Beans are a popular dessert ingredient in parts of Asia, commonly found in ice cream. Mung beans are much like lentils in texture and while I could have done without them they do add heft and character to the fruit salad. Lychees have the best texture, soft yet strangely chewy with a delicious berry-grape flavor. Coconut gel cubes are also common among popular Asian desserts such as in the Boba ‘bubble’ tea drinks offered all over town.
I finished this marathon meal with a cup of Monkey Picked Oolong tea. The name is from a legend that says Buddhist monks would train monkeys to harvest the youngest leaves from hard to reach places. Today the term “Monkey Picked” refers to the highest quality of oolong available. Made from the youngest tea leaves, this tea can be used for multiple infusions.
Té House of Tea uses only Fair Trade tea and provides a lovely ambiance to enjoy it in. It’s perfect for you Café Brasilites who feel like trying something new be it baked or brewed.
Tuesday-Thursday 9am - 10pm
Friday and Saturday 9am-midnight
Sunday 10am-8pm
Closed Mondays
Live music and open mic on Fridays and Saturdays
1927 Fairview St.
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 522-8868

Te House of Tea on Urbanspoon

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