My friend, Enya, had just come back from a year long adventure where she traveled to Italy and Australia, so I decided to take her to Chado Tea Room in Pasadena as a way to celebrate her homecoming and her belated birthday! We got dressed up, looking spiffy and ready for our afternoon tea. Our waiter seated us immediately and started introducing us to their extensive array of teas. If you’re not one who likes to venture off to unknown territories, I suggest playing it safe and ordering a green or black tea.
I personally don’t like sweet teas with strong floral notes, so I played it very safe with a delectable Oolong. Feel free to question the waiter of any teas they offer. They really know their stuff and have memorized the tea menu almost by heart.
**** Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe/Oolong Tea): I was really glad I played it safe for this because the selection of sandwiches, scones, and desserts provided were more on the sweet side, so if I tried the sweeter teas provided, I probably would’ve had an overload of sugar and wouldn’t be able to cleanse my palette between bites. This drink is has a very strong oolong flavor which I really liked. According to their website, this tea is
“literally, “Big Red Robe” : An Oolong cultivar unique to Wuyishan and perhaps its most celebrated and expensive yancha. On a terrace beneath the Tianxin Cliff in the Wuyi mountains are the few surviving three-foot-high Da Hang Pao tea bushes with leaves a bit thicker than usual and slightly pinkish buds. Here in this canyon called Nine Dragons’ Nest the sun shines directly only a few hours per day and a small stream from a nearby spring seeps through the sandy soil, creating an ideal place for tea growing. The ancient plants are known to be centuries old and their offspring grow here and there in the canyon, though almost nowhere else. What made this oolong famous and inspired its name was a Ming Dynasty mandarin who attributed his survival to its curative powers and in thanks draped his official’s scarlet robe of high office over the bushes and respectfully kowtowed before them. (JNP’s Tea Dictionary)”.
The only thing is the tea doesn’t stay hot for too long. I don’t know if it’s because of the material the tea pot is made or what, but the tea was lukewarm halfway through the meal. They also come with these adorable cat tea drip catchers! If you don’t know what a tea drip catcher is, it basically says it all in the name. It stops the tea from dripping down the spout of the teapot and staining the tablecloth.
Cheers to the years! I’ve known these girlies for around 4-6 years now. Time flies by so quickly.
**** Blueberry Scones + Homemade Cream & Strawberries + Jam: The waiter recommended starting with the scone because it comes out piping hot from the oven and tastes better when warm. And boy was he right. The inside was super warm and moist still, which made the flavors of the cream and jam come out even more. I decided to spread the cream and jam together and topped it with a strawberry for each bite. It was absolutely amazing. The scone itself wasn’t too hard and the inside was soft and buttery.
**** Smoked Salmon Sandwich: This was absolutely delicious. It’s a sandwich with cream cheese, smoked salmon, baby dill, and a slice of lemon on top of dark rye bread. When you drizzle that lemon on top and bring out all the flavors, you just fall in love. I wish I got two of these in this afternoon tea bundle. There’s nothing to critique about it. It’s a classic style of sandwich that’s normally paired with a bagel instead of bread. It’s pretty well known that cream cheese, smoked salmon, and dill usually works, so I wasn’t surprised that I liked it a lot.
***Souchong Chicken Sandwich: This sandwich was shredded smoked chicken breast, mayonnaise, and cranberry lingonberry sauce. Normally I love the pairing of chicken and cranberry, so I was super excited about trying this sandwich. However, the chicken turned out to be really really dry. They must’ve overcooked it. I would’ve preferred chunks of chicken to shredded chicken personally. It gives a smoother texture that balances out the coarseness of the toasted bread. I also wished not all the breads were toasted. I prefer afternoon tea with untoasted sandwiches for some reason. It seems more delicate and more befitting I suppose.
***Limerick Sandwich: This sandwich is probably one of my go-to sandwiches whenever I host afternoon tea at my place. It’s super easy because all you need is bread, cucumber, and cream cheese. This one is made with English cucumbers, cream cheese, and green onions on top of buttered bread. English cucumbers are slightly different than regular cucumbers because it has a less bitter taste, is slightly sweeter, is more expensive, and their seeds are almost nonexistent. Strangely enough though, this sandwich did not amaze me. It might be the fact that they used English cucumbers instead of regular, their cream cheese was lighter, or the fact that the bread was toasted, but the sandwich tasted very light and the flavor was barely there. I guess that’s what they were going for because cream cheese is pretty heavy. Personally, I make the sandwiches with a heavy layer of cream cheese from Philadelphia, regular cucumbers, and untoasted bread. And I usually get a nice burst of flavor from it.
***Punjab Sandwich: This sandwich contains eggs marinated in Lapsang Souchong Smoked Tea combined with mayonnaise and green onion. This sandwich was probably the least favorite of the sandwiches for me. It was very strong in the egg-flavor and that’s pretty much all I could taste from it. Nothing really stood out to me.
Dark Chocolate Cup and Strawberry Shortbread Cookie. I didn’t actually get to try these because by the time I got to them, I was in major food coma mode. One thing good about this place is that they give you a lot for what you pay for. You actually can end up leaving full and satisfied from the meal. However, I personally still loved Scarlet Tea Room more (also in Pasadena). I am really sad to say that I just found out that this place closed down. They had amazing sandwiches and edible florals adorning the plate. The downside of Scarlet though was that it was really pricy for a small amount of sandwiches that didn’t fill you up.
Enya wasn’t that hungry so she opted for a Chicken Salad! She said it was really tasty (:
Me and the booger dressed up with the array of teas in the background.