World leader in tea gastronomy, TWG Tea London has launched its new menu of tea-infused dishes constructed especially for Valentine’s Day.
The TWG shop in Leicester Square, London is not hard to miss. With its grand, glassy shop front expanding over two floors, the warmth of colour radiates onto the street and allures passers-by into a wonderland of tea and patisserie. The shop, on the ground floor, is clearly a draw for visitors – TWG is a distinguished tea brand originating from Singapore and established in 2008. TWG promotes luxury and opulence, cleverly associating itself with the tea-craze of Victorian Europe, celebrating the year 1837 when Singapore became a trading post for teas and spices. This transpires into the branding of the company and the décor of its stores: brightly coloured tin packaging, Victorian type-faces and glittering gold furniture.
The tea room located above the shop in Leicester Square is equally as extravagant, with marbled floors, pillars of gold-packaged tea, crisp white table cloths and subtly flowered wallpaper. The feel is haute-couture on a large scale. We start the evening with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé, served in an ornate glass that incidentally matches not only the Perrier-Jouët bottle, but also the tea room’s wallpaper. A touch of indulgence that we are all too ready to buy into.
We decide on our tea – either a Hot Mon Amour Tea or an Iced Place Vendome Tea. The hot tea is described to emulate a magic potion with flavours of yellow blossoms and notes of quince. Conversely, the iced tea aims to combine the continents of Europe and Asia with its floral notes and fruity undertones. The stories behind each tea are engaging and fun, adding a further sense of fantasy to the romance of the evening. The teas themselves were a little bitter following the pink champagne, and perhaps would have worked better at the end of the meal, functioning more as a palate cleanser.
Eagerly receiving our starters of Scallop Carpaccio, the presentation is immediately eye-catching. The dish combines texture and flavour well, as the crunch of the sweet pomegranate complimented the softness of the scallop and the saltiness of the pickled cabbage, although we found difficulty in tasting the green-tea element of the dressing. The main course divided opinion: those who ordered the Lamb Rump were pleased, however those who ordered the Pan-Roasted Cod were slightly disappointed. While the accoutrements of the cod dish (butternut squash mousseline, carrot sponge and spinach emulsion) are technically impressive and come together beautifully, the texture of the cod suggested it was marginally under-cooked, and this was slightly off-putting.
The dessert was the highlight of the meal. The Vanilla Cheesecake, chosen from the trolley, was quite exceptional. The Chocolate Raspberry Dome was equally as delicious, albeit quite rich, and the Bain de Roses Tea infused raspberry marmalade was potent. Patisserie is clearly TWG’s forte and I would return for their afternoon tea, to experiment with their other hot tea choices, and to indulge unapologetically in their sweet treats.
Dining at TWG, Leicester Square is an exciting experience. There is an element of performance in the stories behind the teas, and it is easy to indulge in the opulence of another time. It is a welcome step back into a world of luxury and hedonism, made accessible by TWG and their central location, without feeling too antiquated. Their Valentine Menu is fun and charming, but the culinary strengths of TWG clearly reside in afternoon tea and patisserie.
TWG’s Valentine Menu will be served from 11th-17th February, 2019.
TWG, 48 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LT
Words by Anna Price