Having previously attended the Afternoon Tea Academy at the Milestone Hotel, it was a pleasure to be invited to another Tea Academy experience. This exclusive event took place in a more modern setting this time, at Plate restaurant, situated within M by Montcalm, an unusual building design that takes inspiration from the hypnotic, illusionary artwork of Bridget Riley, that certainly stands out at the heart of London’s Tech City. I have always been a fan of bright and airy spaces, and the restaurant that features floor to ceiling windows provided an excellent view overlooking the bustling streets of Shoreditch.
We were once again hosted by the incredibly enthusiastic Dananjaya Silva, Managing Director of PMD Tea. P.M. David Silva & Sons have been working with tea plantations in Ceylon since the days of the British Raj. Each tea that was paired with the menu was specially hand-picked, ethically sourced and expertly chosen for Plate Restaurant.
Our experience began with a brief introduction and history behind this quintessentially British drink and how it fuelled the Opium War. By the 19th century, the British became a nation of tea drinkers, which resulted in a rise in demand for Chinese tea and increased the cost to the exporting country. As a way to generate the silver needed as payment for tea, Britain began exporting opium into China, hence the association with tea being one of the main causes of the First Opium War.
The first tea that we were served was the Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings, a Low Grown Ceylon Tea, hand-picked at sea level and hand-made by the expert tea maker on Golden Garden Estate. The leaves are personally tended to by the tea maker, from which he sifts to extract the golden “tip”. The tea is thick and malty, and much stronger than most teas that I’ve had, the “tip” giving it a mild sweetness.
As much as I enjoy traditional savoury sandwiches, I do love it when the selection is given a modern twist. In this case the bread base had been substituted with “Crobuns”, a hybrid of a croissant and brioche – slightly heavier and more filling than most sandwich bases, but they sure were delicious! They were equally as generous with the fillings which included: beetroot hummus, feta cheese & smoked pepper, salted cucumber with mint & crème fraiche, and roast breast of chicken & bacon with basil pesto mayonnaise. My favourites were the peppered beef pastrami with gherkin & mustard mayonnaise, and the classic smoked salmon (Chapel & Swan) with dill cream cheese. Although the flavour of the tea initially felt quite strong, it did indeed pair well with the rich flavours of the sandwiches and was not over-powered by them.
Next up was the Orange Pekoe 1, a High Grown Ceylon Tea from Inverness Estate which produces a large leafy tea that is rare amongst the tea plantations of Ceylon’s western slopes, founded by Scottish pioneer planters during the tea boom of the late 1800’s. The expert hand-picking and careful handling of the green leaf produces a tea that carries a rosy note and lemony citrus finish.
I loved how light and fluffy the freshly baked buttermilk scones were, with just the right texture that I like. These classic plain and raisin scones were served with clotted cream & strawberry preserve, where the splitting of the scones then triggered the common debate of the Cornish method vs. the Devonshire method. Cream before jam, always.
Last but not least was their beautiful selection of hand-made pastries:
Spiced apple crumble cake
Crispy choux with Valrhona milk chocolate
Passion fruit and hazelnut
Raspberry and frangipane tart
Rhubarb and custard mille-feuille
White chocolate and olive oil macaron
Each and every one of them was scrumptious, it was hard to pick a favourite!
These sweet treats were paired with Planter’s Mistress, a blended Single Origin Ceylon Tea, and their scandalous take on a much-cherished aristocratic classic. This light, golden tea scented with bergamot, orange and lemon peel leaves the palate feeling refreshed with a pleasant citrus flavour. This might have been my favourite tea of the day, and the perfect way to finish off a splendid afternoon.
Well done once again to Dan, our ever-engaging host, and the team at Plate for a delicious and educational afternoon.
The PMD Tea Academy at Plate is priced at £49 per person and their next event will take place on July 13th from 12-2pm – don’t hesitate to book yourself in for an upgrade from your regular afternoon tea experience.
- I was invited to review the Afternoon Tea Academy at Plate – all views and photos are my own.