Tea & me
I love tea, and I drink at least a cup each day, but despite having a cupboard full of loose leaf blends of many variety (from Mauritian vanilla black tea to the White Duke from Bellocq, from dried garden mint leaves to Twinings patent Lady Grey) I am quite boring when it comes to brewing and follow tradition, picking my favourite Earl Grey 99% of the times.
Beautiful, properly brewed big cups of tea that are paired with cakes, truffles and tea infused sandwiches
I therefore always welcome the opportunity to taste more teas and learn more about it as well; one such opportunity happened a few days ago when with my friends and fellow bloggers Mondo Mulia, Sonia nel Paese delle Stoviglie and Orientespresso we experienced a delightful tasting flight at Piacha, in Upper St in Islington. A cute shop and tea room with lots of tea accessories for sale, lots of cakes and savoury food available too and a quirky menu, which offers regular staples as well as food made using tea.
Green & black
Pia is the founder of Piacha, and has tons passion and knowledge about tea and the pleasure of drinking it. The blends she offers are devised by her and she’s constantly experimenting with new leaves and aromas. We started our afternoon with two chinese teas, Mao Feng and Genmaicha, both surprisingly light (I am not a fan usually of green teas), the Genmaicha so unusual with its pop corn, roasted undertones. They were paired with delicious morsels of salmon and green tea cream cheese rye bread sandwiches.
The second pair of blends we tried was also Chinese, but this time black leaves, a Milky Oolong, which has a wonderful, rich aroma of caramel and milk, and had 20% oxydation so wasn’t fully black either. Very pleasant, for me, surprinsgly too. The second was an Oolong Shui Xian, proper smokey black oolong, strong. Maybe my least favourite tea of the flight, but then black smokey oolongs aren’t my pick of choice. They were paired with a rich walnut bread with honey and brie.
We then moved on to caffeine free teas, with another beautiful pair. A lightly scented Chamomile blend with lavender, floral with none of that evening feeling that shop bought chamomile tea has; the next tea was a kick, literally, which apparently works wonders for hangovers: a blend of ginger, ginseng, verbena and chilli. Very spicy, strong and definitely one to awaken the senses! These were served with delicious small cakes: a pecan pie, chocolate and almond brownie and a stunning cheesecake.
The next duo were two Rooibos teas; rooibos is a bush plant that growns in South Africa, has a deep red colour, and is rich in flavonoids so it’s good for you as well (and actually on Piacha’s website there is a lot of information on tea benefits in general). The first tea was scented with vanilla and berries, with sweet tones and aromatic notes from the vanilla which was not dominant but just a beautiful link between all the flavours. The second Rooibos was so interesting, almost a Christmas brew with cinnamon, cardamom and cocoa shells, possibly my favourite tea of the evening.
We went back to caffeinated teas with the next pair, an Earl Grey with Vanilla, black Ceylon tea with light citrus notes and a delicate vanilla, more in the aroma than the taste, a very light blend; then an Assam, one of the most popular teas, not one of my favourite but Piacha’s was great, as it was as delicate as it could be, as a black tea.
Finally, some colours, we had a matcha mint, again one of the best matcha teas I have ever had. I recently bought matcha and made myself a tea which tasted disgusting. Piacha’s was so pleasant, maybe because it’s blended with 10% mint, or because is full bodied but with none of the unpleasant, strong smell matcha can sometime have, I really enjoyed it. We were given the option to try with a little milk too, but actually it’s much better without. This was accompanied by a nutty, mooreish chocolate brown triangle.
To finish off, we also tried samples of Piacha’s really nice Ice Tea Smoothies: lemongrass and pineapple, berry cosmopolitan and earl grey breakfast, which we loved, so refreshing, I can imagine how popular they would be in the summer.
We had a great couple of hours with Pia at her lovely tea room; they serve coffee selection and hot chocolate as well as tea, they do breakfasts as well as lunches, are open until evening and the shop itself is really a pleasant place to stop, especially away from the chains of the Angel area. I could not recommend the tasting experience more, it’s really fun, informal and has some surprising blends to taste. I personally can’t wait to be back, and they are dog friendly too which is great.
We were guests of Piacha on this occasion, I was not asked to write this blog; opinions are my own.