Spring menu ideas?

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Spring menu ideas?

Spring is upon us, so that means a new menu! We want to switch out the chocolate pudding with maple panna cotta and berries. Things are always changing around here, but you know what's not changing? The quality of the tea. It's Afternoon Tea, and tea ought to be the highlight. So, it's with careful consideration that I select the panna cotta flavor to go best with the tea. All the items served at afternoon tea are designed to be colorful and go together. They provide a range of textures and flavors. Designing the ultimate Afternoon Tea definitely takes some engineering!

Others try to do it, but unless someone is truly dedicated, coming up with an Afternoon Tea menu is definitely not as easy as it looks!

What do you think would be your preference? Comments below!

  • maple
  • blackberry
  • dulce de leche

 

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Why have an Afternoon Tea vs. tea in the afternoon?

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Why have an Afternoon Tea vs. tea in the afternoon?

I get this question quite a lot. What is afternoon tea and how is it different from having tea in the afternoon?

A few key differences:

  • Afternoon Tea is a set menu, nearly always involving scones, cream and jam, egg salad and cucumber sandwiches. The items on the afternoon tea tray vary, but one thing is for sure...it's not just tea.
  • It's a culinary experience dating back to the 1780's in England, so that's why there are things like scones, because that's typical cuisine for that area.
  • Having an Afternoon Tea means sitting down with your company and really sharing a great 'sit-down' conversation. Having tea in the afternoon might be a quick cup of average stuff from your local coffee shop. Afternoon Tea usually involves much better quality tea and often served in loose leaf pots.
  • Dress codes are typically enforced for Afternoon Tea. In my case, please come dressed to be in an upscale environment (no flip-flops, ripped jeans, ball caps, etc.) but I do not have an enforced dress code unless there is a special event. See our events page for more info!
  • You MUST make reservations (janamtea.com/reservations which will take you to reservations page through Garfunkel's, which is the hosting venue). Walk-ins are very difficult to accommodate as I make every last thing for the precise number of people attending.
  • Another major difference is cost. Your average Afternoon Tea costs around $50/pp and can come with additions like champagne or cocktails. Mine happens to be $29/pp, the lowest (at the moment) in New York City, which is largely because of the location. It's not in a big fancy midtown hotel, it's in the Lower East Side, where there are galleries and things are a little more 'street'. Many say my presentation and food outshines even classics like the Russian Tea Room, but I don't know for sure. Check out Yelp reviews to see what people are saying.

Here are some similarities:

  • Having tea does not have to be a snobby experience. I don't expect people to know what single-estate Indian Tea is, thus the front page of my website and the 'Why Indian Tea' page.
  • Pouring honey and milk in light teas covers up the flavor. Only full-bodied (meaning darker color and more viscous) teas can hold milk. No one likes hot watery milk.
  • Tea should have plenty of room to steep once in the water. Tying tea bags too close to the tea or packing it into infusers doesn't allow the full flavor to be released.

I love having Afternoon Tea and I love having tea in the afternoon, but hopefully after reading this, it's clear these are decidedly two different things! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

amy@janamtea.com

 

 

 

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Details matter: Round scones vs. Triangular

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Details matter: Round scones vs. Triangular

Scones are such a particular texture, it was really important to me to get it right. 

So many scones were tasted and rated, it would make your head spin. I looked at round, triangular, with currants, with raisins, with oats, with cranberries, chocolate chips, gluten-free, you name it. I tried it. Scones are served with my housemade clotted cream and raspberry jam, so I knew it had to be something that wouldn't compete with those flavors.

A note about my clotted cream! Clotted cream is simply cream solids that have been separated from the liquids, so it's literally the creme de la creme. The texture is somewhere between cream and butter and kind of hard to get right. The flavor is heavenly!! It's rich, so heavier than whipped cream, but it's not as thick as butter. You spread the cream on your scone and top with jam. Then sit tight because you're about to be launched into another orbit, especially if you take a sip of your tea right after. Why has tea been so popular over the last 150 or so years in England? This experience right here. 

Back to the scones. They're all butter, which means you know they're fabulous. I know clotted cream (nearly butter) on all-butter scones sounds insane, but trust me on this. The texture of the scones shouldn't be dry or crunchy. Nor is it too soft. It has heft but isn't heavy. Mine has little crunchy sugar crystals on top so that's pretty fabulous. It should not be too bready as in the case of Irish soda bread, but it's not a muffin either. 

I went round because I like how it looks on the plate. Triangles took up too much real estate and found the corners and the middle to have very different textures. If details are important to you, may I suggest trying an afternoon tea sometime!

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This is what it's about...

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This is what it's about...

Afternoon Tea really just translates into quality time. Getting to know someone, whether you've known them for years or minutes. The two gentlemen pictured here were introduced not 20 minutes before and ended up having a fascinating, intense 3 hour conversation about everything under the sun. They entered as strangers and left as old friends. Afternoon Tea was the common thread, though they quickly found that they had many things in common. This is special! Their new friendship is both meaningful and memorable to them.

Stop and think about it. When was the last time you started a 3 hour conversation with a perfect stranger? If your answer is recently, then having Afternoon Tea at Garfunkel's is a natural fit. If not-would you try it? Would you let me introduce you to someone you didn't know? Would you drop pre-conceived notions, fear and your phone for long enough to learn something new? 

There is brilliance all around and it's my feeling that tea provides a good a foundation as any to start seeing it. I am so grateful to have a space not just to showcase fantastic single-estate Indian teas, but to really connect with people in a profound way and contribute to a positive collective experience.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! 

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The Holidays are here, which means a special menu!

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The Holidays are here, which means a special menu!

I'm so excited for the holidays. The parlor at Garfunkel's Speakeasy is already decorated with strings of pine tinsel, lights, trees and stockings. It's especially festive and I'm now thinking about a menu that will bring the whole atmosphere together. 

So, this is where I get to be really creative! In honor of my dear friend, Nathan R. (who I love to celebrate holidays with and seriously bummed that I can't this year), I've decided to roast a goose to serve for Holiday Tea. I'm also doing a glass of bubbles and putting a little caviar on the salmon to make things even more sumptuous.

I *might* have to break out my own recipe of masala chai. We'll see. Let me know if you want to see it on the menu! 

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your family and friends!

To make reservations, go to janamtea.com/reservations. Holiday Tea is served in two seatings: 12p and 4p on Dec. 24, 25, 31 and 1. 

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Dessert Dilemma

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Dessert Dilemma

When it comes to Afternoon Tea, sweets are a big part of that. It's important that they are all different, colorful, harmonious with one another and are artistic in presentation. 

On the menu, at first, was a brownie, cut with an oval cookie cutter and the initial of its intended consumer creatively drawn on top with cardamom peanut butter piping, a 'thumbprint' shortbread cookie with candied pistachio in honey, lemon curd tarts and a coffee pudding topped with dark chocolate cookie crumbs. All of it required research. I outsourced the brownie and cookie baking to a local bakery and same with the coffee pudding. Asserting that I'm not a pastry chef (not a chef, but I'm practically made out of pastry), I thought I couldn't possibly make these things in-house.

I decided to experiment and you know what? Coffee pudding with tea tastes horrible. Outsourcing baked goods is expensive. Piping people's initials on each brownie is a little ridiculous. So, as it stands now, I have a blueberry danish (which I outsource, but it's SO good), lemon curd tarts (the curd is housemate and it's possible that I can also make the crust. We'll see about this), chocolate puddings layered with strawberry and a cookie make by Roo's Dough Co., which is visually a little too rustic, but incredibly delicious. I do want to bring back the shortbread, but feel I'd likely have to make this myself as well. 

Designing Afternoon Tea is very tricky and of course, time-consuming, but that's the experience people are paying for. The dessert selection will grow and evolve. Suggestions are always appreciated!

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We've launched! Afternoon Tea at Garfunkel's is ON!

We've launched! Afternoon Tea at Garfunkel's is ON!

It has been an absolute pleasure pulling together all the little pieces needed to make the Afternoon Tea come alive. I get a chance to do all the things I love: cook, shop, taste, design, and make people happy. October 29th was the first day that I had paying customers and let me tell you, that was the greatest feeling ever. 

Eight years ago, when I closed my store to the economic downturn, I didn't imagine that I would ever be able to get back to a place where I can be making money doing what I love. It sounds extreme, but that is how it felt.

Now that everything is in order, the venue is gorgeous, the food is vetted, the teas are fabulous-all I need to do is promote. It's a scary thing to put myself out there again, but I'm 100% confident that this is going to be fabulous. 

Hopefully soon, we can start doing live music! All suggestions are welcomed. :)

Photos are some friends. Thanks for being here, Sledge, Deb and Bowdy!

Creating the ultimate Afternoon Tea

Creating the ultimate Afternoon Tea

Tea is infinitely fascinating. Or, at least it is to me. It's a sensual delight; the tea fields, dried tea, brewed tea, the aroma, color, flavor - a cacophany of characteristics. You don't have to be an expert to enjoy a cup of tea and the truth is, you can never really have the same cup twice. Of any tea. The experiences you can have with tea vary as does every day of your life. That said, a few basics can really help you enjoy tea more. One basic principle: Tea is more enjoyable with treats. History has proven this as a fact.

The Ultimate Afternoon Tea is one where every detail is accounted for. Temperature of the room, consistency of the cake, the brewing of the tea and quality of butter. It's something of an art to put on an Afternoon Tea and it's always fun to see what the chef has come up with. 

In the case of mine, it's truly a curation - kind of like performance art. I've picked out every single plate. Decided on the brand of mustard. Tried 5 kinds of bread before choosing one that's just right for your sandwich. I've tested and perfected my lemon curd using a few different types of lemons and I've traveled far and wide to bring you the best tea. Heck, even the language we use is all by design. The above photo was a test run at my friend Seth's house. He let me cook and serve his guests and they gave me feedback, so I know the sandwiches will really wow you.

The Afternoon Tea at Garfunkel's has been great fun to put together and I do hope you'll come enjoy every last detail. 

A little history...

A little history...

I started Janam Tea back in 2004 after spending 6 months in India learning about tea. Here's a picture of me at my first tea garden smelling freshly plucked tea leaves in Assam in 2002.

 

From there, I opened the Western Hemisphere's first tea shop dedicated to single-origin Indian teas in 2005. Here's a photo of my shop.

When the economy crashed in 2008, I had to close and did a bit of soul-searching in Portland, Oregon for a few years. If you're going to do it, Portland's a pretty good spot for it. Probably spent a bit of time playing pool. It wasn't an easy time.

2016-01-18 21.25.06.jpg

Point is, I had to figure out what I was going to do next, so I moved back to NYC and have found the most delightful Speakeasy called Garfunkel's to partner with so people can start enjoying the teas that I procured from India for them. In fact, I spent 5 weeks in the Spring of 2015 to procure some new teas for the Velvet Afternoon Tea experience, which is slated to open in October, 2016 with a new crop of fresh teas sent over directly from the gardens.

Photo of Rohini Tea Estate in Darjeeling that I took during my trip back in 2015. I LOVE India and I LOVE being in the gardens.

Here's a photo of where you can enjoy these handmade teas with me! Garfunkel's Speakeasy, 67 Clinton Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10002. 

Please join me in starting this new chapter of Janam! Click here to make a reservation. Hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 12p-5p. Last seating at 3:45p. See you soon!

-Amy