Spring and afternoon tea with The Girls go together. We set off to the Teanamu Chaya Teahouse in Notting Hill decked out in spring florals, matching the new buds in the trees. It was afternoon tea with a twist of Chinese tea ceremony, where the focus was very much on the ritual of making and infusing tea.
We made our choices from the list of Chinese and Japanese teas. I went with the Organic Golden Monkey tea because I liked the exotic name and I was born in the year of the monkey. It turned out to be a black tea from southern China, dark with flecks of twisted gold. Our host made it for me. He warmed my tiny teapot, before he infused the tea, allowing it to steep for 40 seconds. “In the Chinese way,” he said, “we make multiple infusions, brewing the tea when we are ready to drink it. Not like the Western way where you wait for the tea to brew.” I liked that. The tea was light and aromatic, and I drank it out of the littlest doll-size Chinese tea cup.
Then came the food in succession – the dim sum rice parcels and dumplings, a plate of open face sandwiches with quirky toppings like bamboo shoots in mayonnaise, cucumber and sweet hummus jam (it sounds like a contradiction in terms), and a plate of sweets. I ate the toppings off the bread so as not to get too full, but by the time the pastries turned up I was pretty much at my limit. I needed a digestive stroll afterward on Portobello Road !