I hate reaching late to an invitation. – I said that while rushing through bustling traffic.
We wont be that late – most of these events never start on time…. came the always assuring calming reply from Madhushree .
We were on our way to The Lalit Great Eastern for the media and bloggers meet at their Tea lounge .
We were not that late. When we reached, the proceedings had just begun. Mr. Subhojit Sengupta, the F&B manager , said that place is going to be one of the best tea lounges in the city – the glass ceiling with the sun rays seeping through it at afternoon and watching the rainfall with the sound of pitter-patter later in the evening, along with a customized Earl grey, only confirmed to that thought.
The Lalit Great Eastern Tea Lounge has innovated the tea experience. Each customer will be given an option to pick from tea boxes with a narrative by the side. The range is wide with 32 varieties and almost handpicked from best tea estates all across Assam and Darjeeling. For the more ethnic ones, there is classic Darjeeling Thurbo, Darjeeling Makaibari, Darjeeling Castleton, whereas for connoisseurs, the rarest form of Assam Halmari , Assam Halmari Orthodox and many more.
Once the toughest part of the selection is done, the show starts . The selected tea is presented in an infuser in a hot cup of water, with an hourglass timer on the table. The timer has options of 3, 4 and 5 minutes to guide the customer on how long they would like their tea to be brewed. The infuser needs to be removed after the selected time and the tea is ready . All along this process a server would be there as a tea guide by the side.
The Lalit Great Eastern Tea lounge is a boutique – where designs and fabric of the material is present in form of the tea boxes and the the connoisseur customizes the tea as per own taste and choice.
The ambiance is of Old British style with Phoenician decor keeping in mind the ‘Afternoon tea’ service. The service is a typical ‘Silver Service’ along with some high tea special menu served in three tiered trays. We tasted The Lalit Great Eastern Darjeeling tea, which is grown only for The Lalit Great Eastern and not to be found anywhere else. This variety is also available on retail here . After brewing, it yielded a thin colored infusion with a floral aroma . It had a certain musky spiciness which made the experience even worth to remember .
We had perhaps the most expensive blend of tea in the world today. Its called the silver needle . Its very delicate and one of the most exclusive teas in world. The silver needle white tea is the most famous white tea in the world and is produced in the Fujian province in China. Its hand harvested only for two days in a year in the spring and the exquisite beautiful leaves are silver tipped to exude royalty and exceptional soft smooth luxuriousness . It needs to be brewed for five minutes to appreciate its delicate fresh and light fragrance and flavor.
The show stopper was the Blooming tea or Flowering tea . With origin in China – bundles of tea leaves are wrapped around flowers and set to dry. The bulb when steeped , unfurls and blooms like a flower. The phenomenon is a visual delight in itself and the taste commensurate it. What we had here was a Jasmine pearl, very delicate with an incredible jasmine aroma.
The accompanying menu with such delightful teas are also an attraction in themselves . One can opt for The Great Eastern High tea, which is your typical english scones, muffins, tea cakes, small cheese bites etc or the Jol Khabar, which is the local connection of Jhal muri, samosas and kathi rolls etc. This experience of having exquisite teas along with the savouries and desserts make it a worthwhile place to spend an afternoon steeping into the evening.
The Lalit Great Eastern is located at 1, 2, 3 Old Court House Street , Dalhousie Square Kolkata – 700089 and the Tea Lounge is open from 10 AM to 8 PM, However as Subhojit promises, if you are sitting with a cup of tea in the evening you can stretch it as much as possible.