Tea Time à la Française
The Berlin winter is famously long and cold, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Instead of barbecuing at the former airport in Tempelhof, soon you will be able ski around it; instead of swimming in the lakes in Grünewald forest, soon you will be able to walk on them; instead of outdoor clubs, soon (from 26.11) you will be able to enjoy Berlin’s outdoor Christmas markets. But, for me, the best thing about winter is coming in from the cold to a steaming cup of tea and some delicious treats. In fact, tea time is one of the things I miss most about living in Britain. This week I was invited along to the Hotel Concorde Berlin to sample their very own, very French, interpretation of tea time. I was even allowed to put milk in my tea…
Nadine Fredow, the hotel’s resident tea expert meets me at reception and leads me to our table; it is already laid out with cups and saucers, sideplates and sugars, and, most importantly the classic three-tiered stand containing sweet treats such as macaroons and chocolatey Opéra-Schnitte on the bottom, crustless sandwiches and savoury wraps in the middle, and scones with clotted cream and orange marmalade on top. Nadine is treating me to the Grand Tea Time today, but the hotel also offers a lighter version. For full details and reservations just visit the Brasserie Le Faubourg website here.
I choose an English breafast tea from the 40 or so different teas on offer, and we wait for the timer to tell us the perfect moment to remove the leaves from the pot. The hotel only serves tea from Teehaus Ronnefeldt, one of Germany’s oldest tea manufacturers who also run a prestigious tea academy; Nadine, is, of course, a graduate of the Ronnefeldt Tea Academy. Her training included blind tastings, written tests and a week in Sri Lanka, where she was taught how to pick the tea from the plantations. “Two leaves and one bud, that was the most important thing to remember. It was a fantastic experience – Sri Lanka is beautiful, and you can’t even begin to imagine the smell from the tea plantations. But it was extremely hard work – it makes you appreciate a cup of tea so much more if you know from first-hand experience how much work goes into picking it!” She suggests I try the Morgentau tea next, the most popular Ronnefeldt blend; the citrus notes go perfectly with the salmon wrap she hands me from the stand.
Finally, I ask Nadine for a couple of tea-making tips. Here is what I learnt: When making black tea you can pour the boiling water on straight away, but with green tea, because the leaves are more sensitive, you should wait until the water has cooled a little (to 75-80°C) before pouring to avoid a bitter taste. To keep the tea warm for longer, many people like using a tealight under the teapot to keep it warm, but this can cause the tea to stew, so Nadine prefers to warm the crockery with boiling water beforehand.
Guests can enjoy tea time à la française every Friday and Saturday, from 3pm-6pm, at the Le Faubourg Lounge until the weather begins to thaw again. Bon appétit!