Not to be confused with the heaver, blue collar “high tea”, “low tea” refers to formal mid-afternoon social gatherings punctuated with tea and light snacks.
Yesterday I had the chance to preview a new Chicago teatime offering at Rockit Ranch's Asian hotspot, Sunda. A colorful take on afternoon tea offerings by The Drake, Ritz-Carlton and other Chicago institutions, Sunda’s low tea features highly flavorful teas and hearty snacks.
Shortly after arriving, each of us had the opportunity to choose one of seven fragrant blends, specifically selected to pair nicely with the prix fixe menu. I selected Fields Of France Rooibos containing Rooibos, lavender, rosehip, dried currant, rose petal and dried elderberry. My wife, Jasmine ordered the Lemon Berry Meritage (lemon leaves, currants, blueberries, hibiscus, raisin, cherry) while our friends landed on Moonlight Jasmine Blossom (jasmine, wildflower blossoms) and Stimulus (Oolong, Guayusa). Each delicious blend came in its very own pot, piping hot and steeping tableside. They were slightly more flavorful than typical tea, perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.
Low tea is typically served with light “snacks”. For those of you with “self-control”, that is what they’ll be. For the rest of us, this becomes a nice, large meal. It started off with breads and spreads, featuring diverse doughy creationas accompanied by yuzu marmalade, honey truffle butter and papaya jam. The roti prata was absolutely delicious and didn’t need any of the spreads. Next came a plate of main courses including crab and smoked salmon tartar on a cucumber round, lobster-bacon roll, wagyu-cherry tomato slider, shrimp toast and a tocino (sweet bacon) cheese melt. Everyone at the table seemed to have a different favorite, but each of them was very good. The meal ended with a sweets plate carrying macaroons, cookie bites, raspberry torte and passion fruit truffle. Each course contained items that had me eyeing my friend’s plates in hopes that they may have leftovers. As I alluded to previously, filling up wasn’t hard, given the quantity and flavor of the dishes present.
The Bottom Line
So, obviously this wasn’t your grandma’s teatime, but it was a very enjoyable experience with good friends, food and a less than ordinary dining experience. When Sunda launches this offering (next sunday), it will be available every Sunday for $45 and is definitely worth checking out.