Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy birthday to tea

A perfectly civilized afternoon — strolling the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute (wish this exhibit were back, but these teapots are always lovely to covet), then afternoon tea at the Four Seasons. Happy birthday to me!

Tea at the Four Seasons is a cozy affair. We snagged one of the tables with comfy chairs and loveseats in a lamplit corner. A selection of finger sandwiches came first, five kinds (even a special batch for one gluten-allergic member of our group). Then sweets: tiny, crispy scones; cookies and miniature cake slices; cheesecake bites and chocolate treats. Being the birthday boy, I got an extra lump o' mousse on a chocolate cracker with, get this, a creme brulee center. Oh yeah. Thank heavens I was with my gym buddy. We each had different teas: the orchid oolong (the winner at the table, really smooth and flavored with a hint of coconut, delish!), an orange tea, the mint, and I had the Ceylon Yalt (nice and stout, and maltier than expected, great accompaniment for the chow).

Half the reason I wanted to try the Four Seasons tea experience was because I'd heard about their Castle Cairn pots — the tilting teapots. A remarkably simple and clever design, allegedly first created a century ago by a Scottish earl, they feature a chamber high in the back of the pot where you pile the tea leaves. Add water to the pot, and it doesn't quite reach the leaves — until you rest the pot on its back, causing the water to flow over the leaves and steep. When brewing is done, tilt the pot up to rest at an angle, letting the water drain from the tea. Then sit it upright and pour. It works perfectly, preventing bitterness from the tea sitting in the water and allowing easy second and third steepings. I chatted the manager into ordering one for me, though you can get them online in various spots.

My b-day gift from my beloved was a new video camera, replacing our dead Flip, so naturally ...

The afternoon couldn't have been lovelier. An autumnal day (another one, in August, yeesh), sunny and breezy. Great art, good friends, a leisurely afternoon of conversation in fine surroundings. Every day should be like that. Thanks, boys!

1 comment:

  1. Tilting teapots. They're beautiful because they look like an artist's creation but it's all to be functional. I'd consider getting something like this for myself. And I don't say that about many teapots I see out there. --Spirituality of Tea