About 2 months ago, Revati (a friend) asked me if I would like to join her for an Afternoon Tea Party at The Grand Hyatt the next day. It was pretty short notice but the Hyatt happens to be a short drive from where I live, and an invite to tea and good company is a draw so I told her she could count me in.
The Grand Hyatt serves High Tea every evening between 3.00pm and 7.00pm at their Bay View Lounge, and our invite to their High Tea included a special session by Snigdha Manchandaon all things tea (please scroll down to the end of this post for more details)
Everyone knows about how certain wines pair well with certain kinds of food, and Snigdha’s session focused on similarly perfect pairings of different kinds of tea with different flavours in a variety of pastries and savoury snacks. The tea tasting was more than amply supported by the Hyatt pastry Chef Nicole Illa’s sumptuous High Tea.
I love my cup of tea as dearly as much the next Indian, and I like it steaming hot, somewhat strong, a little milky and a little sweet. Snigdha’s tea blends are however best enjoyed with neither milk nor sugar. These teas are best made by letting them infuse in hot water as opposed to the traditional Indian style of boiling the tea leaves in water or “cooking” them as my part-time cook likes to refer to how she makes her tea.
One can never go wrong with that old Indian favourite, ginger tea, as we all agreed while happily sipping Ginger Root Black Tea but we were also pleasantly surprised by the other teas served at the session. The Saffron Kahwa and the Chilli Chai became my two new favourites. The other teas at the tasting were the Rose Oolong and a very mild and “barely there” flavoured light White Tea.
It was interesting how well the guided tea and food pairings turned out. The floral tone of the Rose Oolong was paired with a lemon cupcake, and the Saffron Kahwa Tea was perfect with Chef Nicole’s excellent pistachio and chocolate macaron.
I must mention here that I usually avoid macarons because they’re usually so sugar laden, but this pistachio macaron is the best I’ve eaten – all flavour and not so much sugar.
The Ginger Root Black Tea was served with a twist on the Goan Rissóis which had a sweet coconut filling instead of the usual prawn filling.
The Chilli Chai’s warm cinnamon-cardamom-clove-vanilla-chilli flavours were just right with mild cucumber sandwiches.
Then there was the subtle, light and almost colourless anti-oxidant rich White Tea which is also an excellent palate cleanser.
Chef Nicole Illa Snigdha Manchanda.
(Image source: The Grand Hyatt, Goa)
We then concluded the tea tasting session with Chef Illa’s High Tea spread. The High Tea is a very English affair from the early 19th century and is credited to Duchess Anna Russell of Bedford, lifelong friend of Queen Victoria. In those days, people apparently ate only two main meals of breakfast and dinner which was served after 8pm.
Not surprisingly, the Duchess was so hungry in the afternoon that she asked to be served bread, butter and cake in her boudoir with her afternoon tea. Later her friends were invited to join her and this became such a popular idea it became an established practice in fashionable society.
Contrary to belief, High Tea was what the working class served in their homes. The upper class of English society served an “Afternoon” or “Low” tea which was served on low tables around which chairs and sofas were arranged.
The lower and working classes served a less fancy but “High” tea at about 6pm instead of dinner but at the dinner table. So the “high” and “low” teas actually refer to height of the tables at which they were served!
The Grand Hyatt has revived the English High Tea tradition and it’s all about an elaborate spread of finger foods (the choice of whether to have it at a low or high table is yours), with tea, coffee or hot chocolate. You could even choose champagne with your High Tea for a special occasion.
Chef Illa and her staff offer four different kinds of High Tea to choose from – the Traditional English Tea, Cupcake Afternoon Tea, the Indian High Tea and Grand Champagne High Tea.
Their traditional English High Tea includes tarts, mini pistachio and chocolate macaroons, fruit cakes, scones with clotted cream and homemade jam, and selection of sandwiches including salmon, turkey, cream cheese and cucumber.
The Indian High Tea menu features Indian evening snacking favourites like Vada Pav, Kanda Bhajia (onion and gram flour fritters), Channa Jhor Garam, Chaat in tart cases and a variety of Indian sweets.
Then there’s a special Cupcake High Tea if you have a really sweet tooth or just love cakes. This includes cupcakes in flavours like Amaretto, lemon meringue, raspberry and blueberry cheese.
These are all served with a selection of teas, coffee or hot chocolate.
The High Tea is quite reasonably priced and will easily keep a group of 3 to 4 people happy. So if you’re looking forward to spending a lazy afternoon , a beautiful view and the company of some friends or family, then heading out for a High Tea at the Grand Hyatt might be something you should consider.
When you do go to the Grand Hyatt, do also consider visiting the Confeitaria to see the variety of other lovely bakes and decorated cakes that they offer.
Address:Confeitaria, The Grand Hyatt, Near Bambolim Beach, North Goa.
Snigdha is a professional tea sommelier who converted her childhood fascination of collecting teas from across the world into a full time occupation. Her personally hand blended all natural gourmet teas retail under the brand TeaTrunk
Please note:This post was supposed to have been written sometime in August but got delayed for reasons that were beyond my control. The information in this post was current at the time of writing it, and may have changed since.
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from Snigdha Manchanda The Grand Hyatt, Goa. I have applied due jud
gment and done my best to remain objective and unbiased while writing this review. Please exercise your own discretion, with the understanding that this is my personal opinion.