Tea time in Bangkok

The Ceylon tea-infused rice casserole with ikura, lemon and freshly-shaved Perigord black truffle.

“Why are they here and not at one of those English or French tea joints?”, I asked my friend as we observed a crowd of afternoon tea lovers packing the 1823 Tea Lounge by Ronnefeldt.

Unquestionably, Ronnefeldt, established since 1823 — almost 200 years ago — is one of the world’s oldest tea houses. But the company is German, and Germany is not known for its tea drinking culture.

Then my friend, a veteran tea master himself, began lecturing us on the history of tea trading.

While England started the tea drinking tradition in Europe in the mid-18th century, Germany is the world’s largest importer of Darjeeling tea, the finest black tea from the hilly tea estate in India and a dominating tea type of the Western tea cult.

Much of German tea stock (not only from India but also all over the world) is blended and re-exported. Each year nearly 2 million kg of tea is shipped by Germany, followed by Britain and America.

The tea craft of Ronnefeldt, a Frankfurt-based tea house, is internationally treasured for top-class quality and distinctive blending traditions.

The 1823 Gold Indulgence afternoon tea set for two people.

Making my visit to Ronnefeldt’s Bangkok outlet even more interesting was the fact that this 80-seater is the brand’s only tea lounge in the world.

Thus, the semi-open venue on the 1st floor of Gaysorn Plaza is the only place where you can enjoy a perfect marriage of Ronnefeldt beverages and its excellent cuisine prepared with German-style preciseness.

As an eatery, the menu presents a decent selection of salad, sandwiches, pasta and main dishes. But its afternoon tea, which comes in two variations, is certainly the most popular.

We passed on the Fashion afternoon tea set (probably designed to go with the fashion-centric location) and settled on the signature 1823 Gold Indulgence set.

The set, priced at 700 baht per person and 1,370 baht for two people, arrived on a custom-made mechanic-inspired three-tiered stand to illustrate a German dash.

On it, you’ll find savoury tiers chouquette of crab with apple capsicum dressing and Arënkha caviar; egg sandwich with truffle mayonnaise and finely grated black truffle garnish; kyuri cucumber sandwich with cream cheese and pesto; and tartinette of tea-smoked salmon, salmon parfait, dill aioli, ikura and kombu seaweed caviar.

Breads and buns are made in house to ensure high quality.

On the sweet side were house-made scones served with strawberry jam and authentic British clotted cream; carrot cake with orange whipped cream cheese; Black Forest verrine with chocolate and vanilla mousse, kirschwasser liquor, griotte cherries stewed in red wine and crunchy chocolate pearls; salted caramel profiterole with passion fruit jelly; and a selection of seasonal macarons.

The delicacies, all of which proved delicious, were complemented by Ronnefeldt tea (one pot per person). Customers can add a glass of Bangkok Royale — a Ronnefeldt tea-infused sparkling wine — to the tea set for 290 baht.

Other than the afternoon tea, the Ceylon tea-infused rice casserole with ikura, lemon and freshly-shaved Perigord black truffle (490 baht) enjoys much praise by diners. As does the 1823 matcha carbonara with truffle oil (390 baht), featuring house-made, green tea-infused soba noodles leavened with Parmigiano-pecorino cheese sauce and topped with soft-poached egg, crispy tea-cured pancetta and a drizzle of white truffle oil.

Last but not least, cake loons cannot miss sampling some of Ronnefeldt’s rendition of desserts and pastries offered from the display counter.

Its Bordeaux canele (45 baht per piece) is the best in town. The bite-sized, rum-flavoured vanilla cake promises to wow your palate with its moist and spongy chewy centre inside a crispy shell with pleasingly perfect burnt-caramel finish.

The 1823 Gold Indulgence afternoon tea set is available at 1823 Tea Lounge by Ronnefeldt, Gaysorn Plaza, 1st floor. Call 02-656-1086.