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Tag Archives: tea

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience

“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.”
 Jane Austen, Persuasion

High teas are always an escape from reality for me. It’s an escape into a beautiful world, where I truly unwind and take time to enjoy life’s little luxuries like a perfectly brewed cup of tea, delicious savoury and sweet nibbles and above all, the company of those whom I truly value.

But at the Austen Tea Room, it went a step further….I got to enjoy one of my favourite authors of all times.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room, as the name suggests, is an ode to the creative brilliance of Jane Austen. Anyone who loves to read would have picked up and loved an Austen book at some point in their life. And this tea room transports you to that era, allowing you to escape the everyday mundane and bask in the happiness that comes from not racing against time.

And that’s why we decided to book a high tea experience for our book swap meet.

I have been to other high tea experiences but what immediately struck me about the Austen Tea Room, apart from the obvious reference to Jane Austen, is the classic British setting. It was not just about luxury and pretty, it was about slowing down like the women did in those times.

There is ample evidence to Austen, her life and books right from the moment you walk in. There is a central café area and is the place you are most likely to be seated if you are just dropping in and not booked in for a high tea or luncheon. And you might want to see if those high back chairs against the window are free for the best spot in the café.

The individual and shared tea rooms are at the back which is arranged according to the size of the group. While some tables are intimate just for 2-3 people, the rest are large making it ideal for hens parties, birthdays etc…

I was visiting with another friend (also my muse for the day!) and so we were directed to a beautifully arranged table for two.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

We had booked for Jane’s Sparkling High Tea. So the first thing to arrive was the bubbles; I can’t think of a better way for two fine ladies to unwind. Our table was decked with the most beautiful tea set, classic Victorian design tableware and we had that perfect spot near a window. I think the picture would do more justice than my words…

We chose to start off with savoury and then follow it up with the tea and sweet treats.

A selection of delicious savoury treats was presented beautifully at our table. There was freshly made ribbon sandwiches with assorted fillings, dainty quiches, sausage rolls and mini meat pies. All of it was delicious but I especially loved the sandwiches.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

Good conversations are important for a high tea experience, because it is all about slowing down as I mentioned earlier. So we pondered over Jane Austen for a while and then just rambled on, conversations flow naturally when you are in good company.

Once we had polished off most of the savoury nibbles, the tea was bought out along with the sweet treats. The tea was perfectly brewed, at the right temperature and we enjoyed with first with some hot scones, clotted cream and homemade jam. Heaven!

There was also an assortment of macaroons, mini cupcakes, and petite cakes along with a few other nibbles to accompany the tea.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The high tea at Austen is not the most elaborate or indulgent that I have experienced. But the old world Victorian charm here is just magical that it transcends everything else. And anything to do with books will win my heart easily.

Austen Tea Room

40 Nicholson St
Essendon, VIC 3040

P: 03 9326 2966
http://www.theaustentearoom.com.au/

High Tea Timings:

(Bookings are essential)

Weekdays: 12pm – 2pm
Weekends 2.00pm – 4.00 pm 

The Austen Tea Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – The High Tea experience was paid for by me and my friend.

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Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail

I do not follow seasons when it comes to cocktails. And whenever we make at home, it’s usually based on the stash that’s available in the bar cabinet. When I dine out at restaurants, then I would pick a cocktail that sounds interesting or different, something I have never tried before.

Tea based cocktails are really amazing and I have tried out quite a few different ones over the last couple of years. One of the best I have had was at Monkey King; wish I could get the bartender to share that recipe with me.

Inspired by all my past experiences with tea cocktails, I thought it’s time I did one too. And that’s how this Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail happened.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Sweet Tea cocktails are very famous, especially in the Southern regions of US because it is essentially, a summer drink. It is light, refreshing and very simple to make in large batches, hence very popular for summer backyard parties.

There are many variations but essentially the drink contains tea, citrus, sweetener and good quality bourbon.

But for today’s drink, I tweaked it slightly by using an iced tea recipe (from this cookbook) that I use often which has spices like cinnamon and star anise for that extra punch. And both these spices work like magic with both tea and bourbon.

The Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail is extremely simple to make. The tea infusion can be prepared ahead and chilled, a time saver if you are making large batches for a party. Good quality bourbon…don’t compromise on that because it does make a difference to the flavour.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 5 cups water
  2. 2 tbsp black tea leaves (or 2-3 tea bags)
  3. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  4. 1 star anise
  5. Peel of 1 medium lemon
  6. Sugar, to taste
  7. Orange juice
  8. Bourbon
  9. Star anise, for garnish
  10. Orange slices; for garnish
  11. Ice cubes

Method:

  1. Bring the water to a boil and take it off the heat.
  2. Add the tea leaves to the water along with the lemon peel (remove using a peeler), cinnamon and star anise. Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea and allow to cool. Refrigerate in a closed bottle until use.
  4. To make the cocktail, add a few cubes to the glass and fill half of the glass with the tea infusion. Add 15 ml orange juice and 40ml bourbon. Stir and taste; add more orange juice or bourbon to suit personal taste.
  5. Garnish with a star anise.
  6. Cheers!!!

Note: If you want a non alcoholic version, mix the orange juice with the tea infusion to taste. Serve in a glass filled with crushed ice.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Masala Chai Semifreddo served with Crushed Pistachios and Fresh Figs

Surprised seeing another dessert so soon? Honestly, I am too…..

This masala chai semifreddo is the result of inspiration striking from several different quarters!

First, there has been a lot of ‘semifreddo’ talk on Masterchef this season, and then there was this amazing masala chai ice cream by ‘A Brown Table’. But what really made me take this plunge finally was an event that I attended a couple of weeks ago – Melbourne’s first ever ‘Chai Festival’ hosted by T2 at their headquarters in Richmond.

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I am more of a coffee gal but I still wanted to attend this chai festival; to broaden my knowledge about this beverage and also play a little at the ‘make your own tea blend’ station which was the highlight of the festival. We came home with lots of special tea blends; my son went totally bonkers and I now have all sorts of crazy blends at home…..a Chinese tea blend with plenty of dried rosebuds (the aroma of this one is heavenly) and a spicy Indian chai spiced further by my son with loads of pink peppercorns.

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I tasted crème brulee tea for the first time ever (and here is a badly shaken picture of it!!)

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And how I envied this copper teapot….

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The idea of this Masala chai semifreddo just got stuck in my head and I really wanted to give it a shot. Had a small chat with the gorgeous girls at T2 who after hearing my idea, guided me towards their organic spiced chai blend. One of the girls got me a sample of the tea so that I could experience the taste and aroma before making up my mind. Little did she know that anything with spice gets me hooked!

So I did a fair bit of research on semifreddos and eventually today’s dish happened…..

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Traditionally, a semifreddo is made using eggs but I decided to try out this eggless version. The last time I made this no-churn icecream, there were so many readers who wrote to me asking for an eggless recipe. So this time, considering all those requests, here is my recipe for Masala chai semifreddo served with crushed pistachios and fresh figs.

If you have never made a semifreddo, seriously you need to give it a go. It is creamy, delicious, sweet, cold (yes, of course)…everything that you want from an ice cream but at a quarter of the time or effort. And what’s more, you can go completely bonkers with flavours…..get as creative, experimentative or wild as you like.

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For those who aren’t too familiar with the semifreddo term, it basically is the Italian name for a semi-frozen dessert which can be like an icecream/frozen custard/icecream cake……anything which has a frozen mousse texture comes under this class. Which means that there is plenty of room to play around in terms of flavours…….

Again, there is no particular shape to a semifreddo, though you are most likely to see it in a rectangular tin to scoop out like an ice cream. If you want individual portions, you can set it individual glasses or moulds. I wanted an ice cream cake sort of feel, so went for a circular shape.

So, here’s my humble dedication to India’s much loved beverage….a creamy, tea-licious masala chai semifreddo!

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Ingredients:

Note – This is not a sponsored post of any manner and my use of T2 chai is entirely my own decision. So please feel free to use your own masala chai blend; just make sure you adjust the strength of the flavour accordingly as the T2 organic spiced chai blend is really strong and full on.

(Serves 4-6)

1. 400 ml full cream milk
2. 400 ml condensed milk
3. A pinch of salt
4. 3 tbsp T2 organic spiced chai blend
5. 200 ml water
6. 250ml heavy cream
7. Crushed pistachios; to garnish
8. Fresh figs (optional); to garnish

Method:

1. Add the chai blend to water and bring to boil (adding the chai blend to cold water and slowly bringing the water to boil helps to deepen the flavours). Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
2. Strain and return the liquid to heat; simmer for another 4-5 minutes to slightly thicken the infusion. Remove and allow to cool.
3. Place the milk, condensed milk and salt in a pan and bring to boil; stirring continuously. Reduce heat and add the tea infusion. I added one tbsp at a time, tasting after each till I was happy with the flavour. Since the strength of your tea infusion might vary, taste and add enough to get that warm chai flavour but not too strong to overpower the dessert. I added approximately 7-8 tsp of the infusion.
4. Continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes till it reaches the consistency of a thin custard. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge.
5. Whip the cream into soft peaks and then fold into the chilled milk mixture.
6. Line the tin with baking paper and pour the mixture into the tin. Freeze for at least 4 hours or till set.
7. Garnish with crushed pistachios and serve with fresh figs on the side.

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