Cliveden House, Berkshire

 

Cliveden House

Cliveden House (Source)

Regularly cited as the world’s most expensive tea experience, the Platinum Afternoon Tea at the Cliveden House, Berkshire costs £550 per person. “Truly special ingredients” are used for the preparation of this opulent afternoon tea and on the menu are:

  • White truffles

    Platinum Afternoon Tea

    Platinum Afternoon Tea (Source)

  • Beluga Caviar
  • Da Hong Pao Tea
  • Dom Perignon Rose
  • Cliveden House Chocolate Cake with Gold Leaf
  • Kopi Luwak coffee.
  • Mini canapé version of the platinum club sandwich

In terms of costs, they say that the white truffles are £2,500 per kg, the caviar is £4,000 per kg and the Da Hong Pao is £2,000 per kg. The choice of Da Hong Pao is an interesting one but presumably its publicity and associations with presidents and royalty helped it to edge out the competition from some of the rare pu-erhs. (See some of my articles on Da Hong Pao here and here).

Traditional Afternoon Tea

Traditional Afternoon Tea (Source)

For the more budget conscious, the Cliveden Afternoon Tea is £29.50 per person (£44 with champagne). This is described as a variety of finger sandwiches, warm scones with home-made jams and clotted cream, a selection of miniature cakes, pastries and Cliveden fruit cake. An interesting variation on the traditional offering is the Floating Afternoon Tea Experience where you take your tea on a boat floating down the River Thames.

Da Hong Pao (Royal Red Robe)

I bought this Da Hong Pao (year & season unknown) at the Berliner Teesalon nearly 4 weeks ago but only got around to tasting it last weekend.

Da Hong PaoThis Oolong tea is produced in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian, China. See previous post on Da Hong Pao for the legend associated with this tea. Strip-style Oolongs like this one are unique to China and are easy to spot in a line-up because of their dark colour and stemless twisted leaves.

IMG_5820Preparation (see post here about steeping): To prepare this tea, I put 5g of the tea in a warmed clay teapot. After rinsing the leaves, I add 150ml of water that is just below boiling (when it makes the rumbling sound) and let it rest for 30 seconds. The leaves are not as dark as this type of Oolong would normally be and the tea is a golden yellow on the first steeping. The second and third steeping are darker but never get to the deep amber that would be expected from heavy roasting. There is an earthy smell and definite sweetness in the taste. It is not unpleasant to drink but it lacks the full bodied, rich peaty flavour that this type of tea should deliver. I steeped this tea five times, increasing the steeping durations each time.

The tea €15 for 50g and I consider that too expensive for the quality of this tea.

 

Da Hong Pao (Royal Red Robe)

This Da Hong Pao or Royal Red Robe is an Oolong tea, produced in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian, China (a Unesco World Heritage Site).leaves

There are a couple of legends associated with this tea. One of them involves an Emperor of the Ming Dynasty who was travelling with his ill mother. The Emperor’s mother was cured by the leaves of the tea bushes that were growing on a cliff of the Wuyi mountain and in gratitude, the Emperor sent red robes to cover the tea bushes. Hence the name Royal Red Robe.  It is believed that three of these original bushes still survive today in the Wuyi mountain and so these bushes were insured in 2006 for $14,000,000. Tea has not been produced from these bushes for some time but when it was, it was reserved for the select few. On occasion, some went for  auction. In 2002, 20g of first generation Da Hong Pao apparently sold for $21,700 (source).

Clearly this is not that tea that I have! Cuttings have been taken from the original bushes to produce similar ancestral teas. The quality of the teas varies but the best grades are still expensive. The one that I have was a gift so I don’t know how much it cost but I hope it wasn’t too much because it was clear from the foreign matter and broken leaves (especially after steeping) that this is a low grade. I don’t know the year or harvest period of this tea.

leaves in bowl

Wuyi Oolongs are darker with ~80% oxidation.  They are earthier than other Oolongs and give a deeper colour after steeping. It is strip-style (as opposed to ball-rolled) so it is not packed as tightly as the Tieguanyin that I spoke about previously.

red robe glassPreparation (see post here about steeping): To prepare this tea, I put 5g of the tea in a warmed clay teapot. After rinsing the leaves, I add 150ml of water that is just below boiling (when it makes the rumbling sound) and let it rest for 30 seconds. This tea is brown-red in color and has a deep earthy and nutty smell.  The second and third steeping are deeper and darker than the first but not by much. I get six steepings from this tea with the steeping time increasing for each one.

This tea came from Beijing Tong Ren Tang on Shaftsbury Road, London. Because it was a present, I don’t know how much it cost but I wouldn’t be paying any more than about £12 for 100g of this grade.