Imagine a dinner and a show; except, the dinner is a carefully crafted eight-course feast, and the show is an exploration into the wonderfully diverse history of tea. This is what awaits you during the tea pairing event at the Dilmah t-lounge.
Just don’t do what I did and arrive on time!
After being patiently and politely attended to by the front-of-house staff, I was seated, and my journey began. The host for the evening, one of the head tea-makers at the restaurant, doubles as the tour guide. His job is to walk you through each food pairing whilst providing commentary on the stories behind each dish. He is the Master Yoda to your Luke Skywalker, and just like any student, you must first learn the basics – the most important of which is, ‘how to drink tea’.
Being a Sri Lankan, I thought that knowing how to drink tea was somewhat of a birthright. Oh, how wrong I was! As my host explained, to truly taste the complexity of the tea, you must take small sips and briefly exhale. Each small sip must then be accompanied by a small bite of food, followed by a moment of reflection to appreciate the pairing of the two. Unfortunately, I was a frightfully poor student. After a few attempts at applying the proper technique, I got too carried away by how great everything tasted. My small sips and bites progressed in size very quickly, and my plates were empty almost as soon as they hit the table.
Regardless of how big or small your sips were, I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed their experience and went away with a newfound appreciation for the food and drink of Sri Lanka, as well as the incredible work ethic and creativity of the local Sri Lankan community. The Dilmah t-lounge, after all, represents another pathway through which the local talent, whether it be the young chefs and front-of-house, or managers and owners, can flex their imaginative and highly artistic muscles to a new clientele within New Zealand. This, I believe, is a cause worthy of support. So, whether you’re looking for a new brunch spot in town or want to polish up on your tea tasting etiquette, I would wholeheartedly recommend heading to the Dilmah t-lounge, and as Merrill uncle would say, ‘do try it’.
By Rahul Rahubaddha – Wellington