TWG Tea Salon and Boutique – 2 Orchard Turn #02-21 ION Orchard
The concept of having tea would typically bring to mind the old world charm of nibbling on small pastries and sipping from delicate china cups, enjoying scintillating conversation with good company. I’m glad to say that – as much as society today is in a truly sorry state of degeneration – the long queues outside TWG indicate that all is not lost. Personally, an afternoon amidst the polished silverware and delicate finger food went a long way towards undoing the damage one and a half years of plebeian military barbarism has wrought. If I may quote Mastercard: Parking in Orchard: $5. Tea at TWG: $42.50. Beautiful afternoon with a closest friend: Priceless.
Our choice of tea for the day was T5008 Strawberry Tea ($10.50) which was very floral and fruity. It had a lovely strong berry aroma that I spent my time inhaling luxuriantly. It comforted me on a very primal level for a bizarre reason that only came to light after much pondering – it smelt just like the strawberry animal toothpaste I used as a child.
We started off with the much-touted Green Tea Financier ($4 ea) which I found a little underwhelming. For a place famed for tea, the matcha flavour was surprisingly subdued. That said, it had a lovely dense richness that left me sad when the little cake vanished in just three bites. Alas, the dainty diminutive portions are both the best and worst aspects of tea.
The Red Tea Jelly and Clotted Cream served with the Green Tea financiers was nothing short of amazing. Its heady fruitiness and sour edge left me at a loss to place just what flavour it was.
As a clear indicator of the exceptional service at TWG, the waiter was not only able to field my question about the jelly’s flavour but also offered us an alternative Geisha Blossom Jelly. This was a wholly different creature from its red tea counterpart. The green tea and passionfruit combination was a lot more refined and nuanced in my opinion with a lighter, marmalade-like feel with the bitter tannin edge mimicking the effect of citrus peel beautifully.
So impressed were we with the tea jellies that we just had to order Scones ($4 ea), how can tea be complete without these pastries anyway? The sizable, raisin-studded masterpieces were deliciously buttery and moist with the trademark salty tang; they were delicate without being too crumbly.
Finally, we arrived at the piece de resistance, arguably the main reason for our visit to TWG, the TWG Macarons ($2 ea); we tried all 8 flavours. The consistent theme that won me over was the gradual strengthening of flavours that were not too apparent at first bite but developed on the palate.
Moroccan Mint Tea (white) had an initially subtle mintiness that grows gradually as the delicate construction of icing sugar and almond flour melts in your mouth; at its peak, the mint is delightfully strong without being medicinal.
Bain de Rose (pink) blooms beautifully in the mouth, growing in intoxicating strength from delicate bud to robust blossom that leaves a lingering kiss long after you’ve polished off the confection. It was easily my favourite.
Napoleon Tea and Caramel (black) fell short of the mark as its colour was indicative of a burnt sugar feel, rather than caramel. Too sweet and too bitter, it lacked the subtle nuances and refined feel of the other flavours.
Earl Grey and Chocolate (brown) was most unusual with the bitter accents and strong flavours of dark chocolate appearing first before the bergamot notes rise in an ever-increasing crescendo.
Lemon Bush Tea (yellow) was refreshing, fruity and generously sour. If you were to close your eyes, an image of the citrus fruits ripening gorgeously on the tree in time-lapse photography comes to mind.
Camelot Tea and Praline (dark brown) was quite brittle compared to the softer biscuits in the others. It lacked any strong flavour accents to the point that the almond notes in the almond flour were more apparent than hazelnuts.
1837 Black Tea and Blackcurrant (dark pink) was a little on the sweet side but had a truly lovely berriness.
Grand Wedding Tea, Passionfruit and Coconut (Purple) was quite sweet as well but balanced with a tinge of sourness. The desiccated coconut added an intriguing textural variation and a subtle coconut note which danced surprisingly well with the passionfruit.