When looking for a nice place for a decadent high tea in Kolkata, I would have to say, Lalit Great Eastern, Kolkata has a spread which is tempting, to say the very least. The rich silver salver was set on one side, with an arrangement of food which we eagerly eyed, while Mr. Subhojit Sengupta, the Food and Beverage Manager, introduced us to the Tea Lounge, where over 30 varieties of tea are available.
|Hi-tea at Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata|
Although not much of a tea enthusiast, being a Bengali ensures that my knowledge of tea is considerably more than the average (thanks to the parents, the uncles, aunts, grandparents, friends, etc), and here, tea lovers can indulge themselves with cups filled with brews that range from the palest cream to the rich, dark orange hue. There is something for everyone, Mr. Sengupta assured.
|Measuring the tea into the strainer|
But more than the tea, it is the little ceremony that is associated with brewing the perfect cup. It starts by measuring the tea into a little perforated pipette-like strainer, which is then placed in the cup. Hot water is poured slowly on top, and a timer is set. Teas will benefit from steeping, and we wait as the color slowly blooms within the cup and colors the transparent water slowly. The process is slightly mesmerising, watching the colors melt within the glass cup.
|Hot Water Poured in the Cup|
The hue changes color, from a pale gold to a glorious sun rising slowly, the aroma of the steeping tea hits the nose, and I am charmed by the Lalit Great Eastern Darjeeling tea, which is sourced from their tea gardens. Imagine drinking this in the dawn, watching the sun rise up in the sky, mirrored in the cup you hold between your palms. Sigh! Now I want a vacation.
|Lalit Great Eastern Darjeeling Tea|
With a light floral flavor, the second flush tea is not too subtle or bold – with minimum tannin, and quite refreshing. I don’t like my tea with milk or sugar, and the brew feels perfect to me after three minutes’ time.
|Different Kinds of Tea at Lalit Great Eastern|
There are many other flavors – from the elusive Silver Needle, to the herbal Tulsi Mint for those who love to add a dose of healthy flavors to their cup, to the more popular Makaibari, and also something from Ceylon and China – there are plenty of options to choose from. But then a pot is brought, and a single ball is dropped into it. A tiny bit of magic is about to unfurl, we are told.
|Blooming Tea or Flowering Tea at Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata|
Behold the beauty of the Blooming Tea. Essentially a Chinese creation, a bunch of tea leaves are carefully wrapped around a flower, and then dried into a ball. As the ball is dropped in the pot, it slowly unfurls itself, till the point we can see the flower inside. Traditionally, this is supposed to be steeped for longer than three minutes, and the effect you see here is after a good ten minutes of steeping. The result is mild, with a very fragrant, floral bouquet, but really not my favorite.
|Hi-Tea at Lalit Great Eastern|
But well, I digress. What is tea without some good food to accompany it? I am no stranger to good food, and the high tea here comes in two different formats – the traditional Great Eastern Hi-Tea (which is 1200/- plus tax for the non-vegetarian option, and 1000/- plus tax for the vegetarian option), with popular continental choices, including the smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, cakes, and other goodies, as well as the Bengali Jalkhabar, which features the traditional list of Bengali afternoon delicacies, like the shingara, mishti and jhalmuri. Apparently, the Bengali version is pretty popular with the guests, especially those who would like something local.
|Smoked Salmon Sandwiches|
The guests can also upgrade their tea to champagne, and have a lovely, bubbly afternoon with a few drinks. The Lalit Champagne Hi-Tea is an extravagant affair, and perfect when you are in a decadent mood.
|My Plate of Tit Bits|
I did love connecting with fellow bloggers AH, ASB and MB, and nibbling on the rather rich blueberry cheesecake and the dark and not too sweet (Thank God!) chocolate mousse cake. As a storm was brewing, I took my leave early, but alas! Like the best laid plans of mice and men, I returned home soaking wet, thanks to a hailstorm that blew on my way back!
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at The Lalit Great Eastern at the kind invitation of the management.