Recently I received an invitation to a tea tasting event at Finale bakery. This was something new to me, and felt so Bostonian that I was all set to go before remembering I had conflicting plans that night. A little online research led me to discover that I could still taste some tea on my own. Inside the Swan Cafe at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, you will find Cynthia Gold, one of the world’s few tea sommeliers, and the same connoisseur whose tea tasting and book signing I had to miss. Gold oversees the Park Plaza’s afternoon tea and is currently promoting her book, Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World. The book, as well as the tasting experience at the Park Plaza hotel, focuses not only on the contents of tea cups, but also on cocktails and incorporating tea into fine cuisine.
The more I learned the more interested I became, so I made a reservation and asked my friends to come along. I was admittedly ignorant to the world of tea sommeliers, tea cocktails, and tea cuisine. But of all places, Boston would be the place to open my eyes, infuse some knowledge, and discover that sommeliers aren’t just for wine anymore. And for that matter, the afternoon tea of our mother’s and grandmother’s era isn’t what it used to be. In a city famous for its tea bash back in the 1700s, Boston has emerged as a trendsetter in a re-emerging social scene: the tea party.
The afternoon tea menu includes unique blends created by Cynthia Gold exclusively for the Park Plaza Hotel. She expertly advised us to start out with a lighter blend and work our way to the stronger tastes. Of the five varieties we sipped, our favorite ended up being the first, The Park Plaza Spring Blossom. In between pots of tea we sampled scones and delicious open-faced tea sandwiches, which, to our delight, also incorporated tea! The tea cured salmon with matcha wasabi cream, and tea grilled chicken with cilantro and mango were our favorite finger sandwiches. For dessert: tea infused crème brule and port wine. Everything was sophisticated and creative, from the tea blends to the food presentation. For more information and to arrange a tea tasting with Cynthia Gold, visit the Boston Park Plaza’s website. Other hot spots for tea include the Taj Boston and the Ritz Carlton. Make your next get together a tea party!