With dishes carefully developed and infused with its own select tea blends, TWG Tea Salon & Boutique at The Emporium offers a new fine dining experience in Bangkok.
By Percy Roxas
TWG Tea Salon & Boutique – the first in Thailand – opened in Bangkok last August. One of the three TWG Tea locations unveiled in Asia this year (along with Tokyo and Manila), the Bangkok branch boasts a unique location – at the ground floor entrance of the city’s premier shopping mall, The Emporium. This distinctive posh location, formerly occupied by a Mandarin Oriental food outlet, is a trademark of all TWG Tea salons, where it fulfills the promise of providing an extraordinary new experience.
We first visited the tea salon incognito a few days after its opening, wanting to test TWG’s high reputation, and was surprised to find a queue already (The place can seat 54 only). But were we glad to note that Bangkok finally has a stunning tea salon to enjoy “the illustrious tea traditions around the world infused with a contemporary, epicurean sensibility.” TWG Tea is recognized as the world’s finest tea brand and a leading purveyor of premium tea.
Our first visit wasn’t that long, just enough to browse over the tea list, which is eight pages long and probably more than 400 varieties of tea. In fact, we have read somewhere that TWG Tea has conceived over 800 blends of tea and tea-based products, being the tea-innovators that they are. We tried an easy one, one of the famous original blended teas, the Geisha Blossom, which is green tea with the fragrance of mango or peach. We didn’t even tried anything from the patisserie, as at the time we were in a hurry.
On our next visit, we came with the Lookeast team. Again, the place was reasonably packed considering that it was a Tuesday. This time we were ready to stay as long as possible; we were ready to experience it to the hilt.
TWG at The Emporium incorporates three integral elements: a cozy tea salon, a tea boutique featuring hundreds of brightly hued packaged teas and tea accessories, and a takeaway patisserie counter. This is one elegant location, sheltered within a remarkable, especially crafted artisanal glass wall and a lush garden featuring columns of verdant plants and iconic pillars with a treasure trove of objets d’art.
The tea salon is decorated with nostalgic furnishing bearing the trademarks of the brand – warm polished wood tables and panels, TWG’s own fine bone china, crisp white linen, and vases of brightly colored exotic plants. The timelessly chic, wood-paneled tea boutique celebrates the voyage of the tea clippers, spiced with elegant samovars, brass weighing scales, Italian marble floors, and hardwood tea counters.
The tea boutique’s most impressive feature is an astonishing rotating tea wall, which when turned reveals TWG Tea’s signature yellow artisan tea tins filled with 450 of the most celebrated fine harvest and exclusive tea blends in the world. The takeaway patisserie counter carries all the teas served by the salon, packaged in whimsically bright colored containers. Guests can buy the tea and tea blends by weight from 50 grams in sachets or perfectly accessorized in one of TWG Tea’s 45 bespoke tea tins.
For our tea tasting, we tried a number of varieties and blends. Teas here by the way, are proposed in all their states: hot or cold or in party colors blended with fresh juices or sparkling wine. Harvests from the most prestigious gardens – India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Africa and other places — are infused behind the bar according to TWG Tea’s exact rules.
First we shared the signature 1837 Black Tea, a unique blend of black tea infused with fruits and flowers from the Bermuda triangle, which leaves a lingering aftertaste of ripe berries, anise, and caramel. Timeless classic, definitely!
Then one of my companions tried the Silver Moon Tea, a blend of green teas accented with a grand berry and vanilla bouquet. I can see from his smile how he was enjoying the tea. For me I chose a Chinese yellow tea – said to be the most expensive in the collection – and it had the most amazing taste: delightfully refreshing to say the least, in fact exquisite! We also sampled other tea blends, including a local one blended with tea harvested from the North of Thailand.
My two companions also tried some lunch items from the TWG menu – although, strictly speaking, this is not a restaurant – while I went straight for desserts: I chose the mango crumble, which made me almost shout “wow.” It is so rich, creamy and flavorful, I thought of getting an encore.
To sweeten the afternoon further, we ordered macaroons, of which TWG Tea Salon & Boutique had eight: Napoleon Tea and Caramel; Moroccan Mint Tea; Camelot Tea & Praline; Earl Grey & Chocolate; Bain de Roses tea; Lemon Bush Tea; and Grand Wedding Tea, Passion Fruit & Coconut –– which as expected brought out the fine flavor of the teas even more. These crispy almond biscuits with a soft center are indeed a memorably unique confection. Of course, as the name suggest, they are infused with tea – as is everything served in the salon, if you look at the menu. (Oh, forget the Lipton dusts kind please.)
Indeed while TWG is being advertised as a tea salon and boutique, one of the goals of the management is raise the level of awareness on the delicious pleasures and healthy benefits of the finest tea but also uplift the drinking enjoyment to connoisseur level. TWG tea is meant for more than just a soothing cuppa.
Open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., every day, the salon serves set breakfast, all day dining, lunch and dinner, of course tea time (3-6 p.m.) along with a range of beverages, cocktails, mocktails, wine, and champagne.
Bangkok is not exactly famous for gourmet tea culture. But – with TWG Tea Salon & Boutique now here — that may change soon.
TWG Tea Salon & Boutique
The Emporium, 622 Sukhumvit Road,
(BTS: Phrom Phong)
Established in Singapore in celebration of the island’s great history as a trading post for teas, spices, and fine epicurean products, TWG Tea is a luxury concept that incorporates an international distribution network to professionals, unique and original retail outlets, and exquisite tearooms. A veritable tea institution, TWG Tea is passionate about sharing their expertise and has become a point of reference for tea lovers thirsty for knowledge. (TWG stands for The Wellness Group)
TWG Tea tasters travel thousands of miles across the globe every year, sampling hundreds of teas in search of the most desirable harvests direct from source gardens. Offering over 800 single estate fine harvest teas and exclusive blends, as well as tea patisseries and other tea infused delicacies, TWG Tea is internationally recognized as a veritable innovator with the creation every season of new varieties of tea in collaboration with the world’s most renowned estates.
The TWG Tea team shapes the aesthetic image underpinning all the brand’s products, constantly updating the notion of TWG Tea even as they respect the Asian and European traditions of elegance and beauty on which it is based, now spiced with a touch of sensuality and originality.
Offering the world’s greatest harvests and the finest collection of exclusive tea blends, TWG Tea also boasts an exquisite collection of tea accessories.
TWG Tea Salons serve signature tea-infused savory dishes and patisseries, and are decorated with nostalgic furnishings, accented by fine bone china, crisp linens and vases of brightly hued exotic blooms. All the TWG Tea Salon’s patisseries are freshly handmade and crafted daily by Executive Pastry Chef Philippe Langlois.