Exotic teas infuse Dine Out Vancouver Festival event

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

You’ve heard of wine-pairing dinners, beer-pairing dinners, even whisky-pairing dinners…but have you ever experienced an entire eight-course meal paired with tea?

The Urban Tea Merchant is offering something unique for this year’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival. The tea shop and tea room, which normally offers brunch and afternoon teas, is opening later for six evenings to offer a Tea Gastronomy Experience.

Executive chef Nathan Wright and tea sommelier (yes, there is such a thing) Reza Nasooti have created two tasting menus that not only pair tea with each dish but infuse it into the food and cocktails as well.

Here’s what’s on the table.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

The shop carries TWG Tea exclusively–a brand of high-end tea that’s based in Singapore. Guests for the Tea Gastronomy dinners buy tickets for either a five- or eight-course menu; the eight course builds on the same dishes from the five course.

Both menus start with a very impressive Egg in a Nest dish (above), which is a Tokyo-Singapore Tea-infused smoked salmon custard topped with speck bacon, truffle aioli, and caviar.

It’s served with a smoky, earthy Imperial Keeman hot tea.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

A pickled carrot salad follows that’s an interesting mix of Jade of Africa rooibos tea-infused cream cheese with frisee lettuce, almonds, dates, pumpkin seeds, and savory carrot cake.

A rum cocktail made with the same tea, along with pear puree, is served with this dish for both menu options.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

For the eight-course menu, the third course is this lovely sweet potato soup infused with a nutty Camelot tea.

The third course of the five-course menu is a Frozen 1837 Black Tea Granita (not pictured) served with a glass of Prosecco infused with 1837 Black Tea.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

The fourth course of the eight-course menu only is beef carpaccio crusted with Dignitary’s Tea, which is also infused in the aioli, alongside arugula pesto, Parmesan, and smoked salt.

This dish is paired with Dignitary’s Tea cocktail (below), which is similar to a whisky sour but infused and rimmed with the tea.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

After that, diners for the eight-course menu are served both a fish and a meat course, while those for the five-course menu choose between them.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

The fish course (above) is a dramatic Russian Black Tea-scented lingcod, which is tinted not only by the tea but by black squid ink.

Those having the more extensive menu also receive a Frozen 1837 Black Tea Granita (not pictured) as a palate cleanser between these courses, along with the same Prosecco cocktail.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

The meat course (above) is tender lamb chops crusted with Yunnan tea and served with flowery Orange Pekoe tea-infused raisins, cauliflower, fennel, and more.

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

Photo credit: Carolyn Ali

The dessert for both menus is this decadent chocolate and peanut butter bar that features a ganache made with black New York Breakfast Tea. It’s paired with a Milk Oolong tea, which, curiously, doesn’t contain milk but is named for its naturally smooth flavour.

Tickets for the regular five-course menu cost $85 per person, plus gratuity and ticketing fees. The eight-course Amuse Bouche menu costs $125 per person, plus gratuity and ticketing fees, and includes a TWG Tea gift valued at $24.

Four Tea Gastronomy evenings remain: January 23, 24, 30, and 31. Each evening has a 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. sitting.

Find tickets on the Dine Out Vancouver Festival website, as well as many other events from which to choose.

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