The PieMan is now a Tea Master. All jokes aside, what has been an exploration into all things “Tea” over the past 3+ years has culminated in graduation from the Dilmah School of Tea, Certified Tea Master Certificate program. Starting off with the ITA Tea Sommelier Milestone Program back in 2019, and extensively focusing on Chinese Tea, COVID pandemic management got in the way of completing the Mastery Level Program. In spite of living in China, it now looks like that program will not be operating again, any time soon. Be that as it may, it led to the development of my Tea Blog, 茶笔 Chá Bǐ – The Tea Pen.
Looking around at what was available, Dilmah Tea, recognising the difficulties the pandemic presented in accessing tea schools, took their programs online and offered significant discounts on all their programs. This, in and of itself represents a significant benefit to the aspiring tea professional. The program is a self-paced study system, and I took just over 12 months to complete the program. You can definitely complete it in a much shorter time, however there were a few challenges that I needed to dwell on until I was more comfortable with completing certain tasks.
The program is interesting, and mentally challenging, it is also highly unforgiving. You get one go only at the quizzes and some a sufficiently short enough that a single wrong answer can penalise you heavily.The program culminates in a practical presentation where the student needs to present, on video either a food or drink inspired by tea. My presentation can be seen here:
“This Jasmine Green Tea Flummery contrasts the grassy astringency of the tea, against the sharp acidity of the fruit, and the sweetness of the shortbread biscuit. It blends the aromas of the fruits with the floral bouquet of the tea, and counterpoints the temperature and texture of the mousse against conventional conceptions of how tea looks and presents on the palate.”
Tsc Tempest, DCA. Shanghai, China. 2022.12.31
- Make a strong green tea:
- 250ml hot water
- 4 tea bags of Dilmah Jasmine Green Tea
- Steep for 5-7 min. and remove the tea bags
- Bloom the Gelatine:
- place one sheet of gold leaf gelatine in some cold water
- when fully hydrated, squeeze out the water and use immediately.
- Make Tea Jelly:
- combine tea, reheat if necessary, and gelatine
- stir until gelatine is dissolved
- place in refrigerator and chill for 20-25 min.
- Make a Dairy-free Flummery (Whipped Jelly):
- Remove jelly from refrigerator, it should be thick but not set
- beat into a foam with a whisk until light and airy
- pour flummery into glass cups and place aside in the refrigerator until firmly set
- Shortbread Biscuit Wafer:
- coarsely crush 70g of shortbread biscuits
- add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of dried passionfruit pulp (blot the pulp with kitchen towel)
- melt a tablespoon of coconut oil
- combine oil with the biscuit mix and spread out thinly on a plate or platter
- cut into wafer shapes
- place in refrigerator to chill
- Kiwifruit circles:
- slice kiwifruit into 1-2mm thick pieces
- cut out small circles from the firm flesh with a smooth piping bag nozzle
- set aside
- Mango slivers:
- take a slice of firm sweet mango
- peal and cut into thin slivers
- set aside
- Passionfruit Foam:
- add soy lecithin (6g/l) to strained passionfruit juice
- blend with stick blender until foamy
- expedite use quickly
- remove flummery cups from fridge and place on saucers
- garnish with a shortbread wafer, kiwifruit circles, mango slivers, and a teaspoon of passionfruit foam
- serve immediately.
My Inspiration for this Creation
I started with the simple idea of Tea with Shortbread Biscuits, and fruit. A play on Afternoon tea, if you will, using an old memory of a non-dairy flummery from my childhood.
Flummery, also known as whipped jelly, is an old technique which surprisingly fits well into today’s Modernist cooking techniques. It is a whipped, cold set, foam that provides a blank canvas for a modern chef’s creativity whilst retaining tangible links to a storied, 400 year old, pedigree.
http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/flummery.htm First mention of flummery early 1600’s
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_in_the_United_Kingdom First mention of Tea in the UK early 1600’s
Flummery originated as a starch based set jelly. Over time its flavour has varied between sour, and sweet, increasingly included a dairy ingredient, and the setting agent had varied between starch, innisglass, and gelatine.
I was fascinated with the idea of turning a drink into a desert and initially thought of making a kind of cheesecake-like presentation. However, feedback was not very flattering so after discussions with my Mum, always infomative, I decided on a presentation using a cup, reinforcing the idea of a drink but not a drink.
“Concept is good, biscuit base needs a darker contrast, the fruit topping could use red grapes, strawberries, dark berry fruits, or passionfruit pulp rather than the passionfruit foam, for more colour. This is worth revisiting.“
Now, Modern Cooking science has expanded the range of possible setting agents for various gels, foams, mousses, and airs, expanding the potential for making both hot and cold, sweet or savoury, flummeries.
A Flummery in the 21C, ought to be considered a class of foods made with similar whipped gel techniques, that has a history, or pedigree, that extends back in time equally as far as that of the history of Tea in Britain.
In essence, the flummery should be, ought to be, an essential 21C Afternoon Tea element, as a class of food items, rather than a ye olde worlde simple gelatine set mousse.
Imaging if you will:
- a Flummery of Tomato Consommé served on a base, or garnished with slices, of tea smoked duck confit; or
- a vol-au-vent filled with black tea and lemon infused flummery mousse topped with strawberry liquid spheres or caviar; or
- a smoked tea infused potato and leak (and bacon) soup with hot, piped konjac or agar agar flummery islands, infused with black cardamom chai.
This was the basis of my final practical exam submission for the Certified Team Master certificate, and I am happy to say that I fulfilled the requirements and successfully graduated from the program.
The PieMan is now a, Tea Master! 🤣