There wasn’t much point ordering desert. My long absent appetite had returned but left the taste buds behind. I ate my soup with relish, not because it tasted delicious, but because it was the first thing I had wanted to eat since Friday night. I ate my beef stew in hope that the strong spices might track down the taste buds and resuscitate them, but it didn’t happen that way. Blind fold me, put a fork in my hand and ask me to identify what I was eating and I wouldn’t have had a clue. So desert was off the menu. Desert is all about taste and nothing about nourishment at all.
In the absence of desert, and more than half the newspaper still to read, we opted for a cup of tea. Well, one of us opted for a normal pot of tea. The restaurant was offering floral teas. There was a leaflet with pictures of the varieties they had on offer. A wine glass, filled with hot water, and something lurking at the bottom of the glass – the flower apparently. To be honest, I could have passed on the flower part of it, but something to ease a chesty cough, something to restore harmony to the body and give my organs a bit of a breather – that was the selling point.
“Flora Teas (Flowering teas) are,” according to the Flora Tea Company UK Limited website, “hand-tied individual tea (Green tea) leaves with selected dried aromatic flowers forming a tea ball/heart, which reveals its secret centre when placed in boiling water, blooming into an artistic and captivating flower display with an enriching taste." They go on to promise “an artistic and high quality experience unlike any other”.
The tea arrived. Joe’s came with the teapot, the cup and saucer and the milk jug. Mine came in the wine glass with something lurking at the bottom. I was given instructions to wait until the flower unfolded and then throw in some ice cubes to cool the water down.
I had the attention of the surrounding tables. We all watched in fascination as the flower unwound itself – a tiny white lily in a sea of green spiky leaves and red feathery fronds. It looked just like the picture on the leaflet as I pointed out to people. It was a work of art in a glass but, at the end of the day, it was a cup of tea.
Cold tea, or luke-warm tea, has never held any appeal, so I passed in the ice cubes and sipped away slowly, the flower in its bed of leaves swaying from side to side like an sea anemone on the barrier reef.
The taste buds remained mute, but the eyes enjoyed the whole experience.
That said, I am unlikely to rush out and buy a pack of Flora Tea. It made for an interesting culinary experience. I might return for a repeat performance once my taste buds have come home. It would be nice to find out if the tea tasted as good as it looked.