Musings, Today's Tea, 茶笔 Chá Bǐ - The Tea Pen


Our search is to define a 21st-century high tea. It’s no longer about cucumber sandwiches, and tea with cold or hot milk, but it is something different. We are not trying to replicate a traditional English afternoon tea but we are challenging them to find the 21st-century high tea .

Dilhan C. Fernando

Dilhan C. Fernando, of Dilmah Tea in Sri Lanka, is a prominent global ambassador of Tea and it broader use, beyond that of a simple daily consumption beverage. Through the Dilmah School of Tea, Tea, Scented Teas, and Tisanes are prominently promoted for use in Bar Mixology, and high end Hospitality.

As a final challenge in the Dilmah’s Tea Master program one has to pair tea with a food or drink. The general idea is to come up with something original aand expressive. for the life of me, I wanted to make a Gem Scone & Clotted Cream Tea using a smokey Mongolian Milk Tea with popped millet garnish. Then I heard the above quote.

Back to the drawing board…

Lying awake at night, cogitating on this thought, I settled finally on thoughts of a Flummery. What is that? You may well ask. It is an awesome dish from my childhoold. It can be made in two ways. Most commonly with jelly and cream; less common just with jelly. Jelly, or Jell-o is a gelatine based desert, and a flummery is basically made by whipping semmi set jelly into a culinary foam.

This concept, believe it or not is as old as the history of tea in Britain. Literally equally as old. Everything old is new again, the circle turns, and new expressions are brought forth. Today, culinary foams are considered the province of Modernist Cooking, and multi-star/hat/etc., Haute Cuisine.

Jasmine Green Tea Flummery by Tsc Tempest

Unfortunately, the initial idea fell short of the vision. Suffice to say There was too little colour contrast between the base and the flummery. After a long chat with my Mum, bless her, I rejigged the presentation. This is what I came up with.

It is important to note, that ideas need time to grow and develop. This dish was purposefully created but from conception to final expression on the plate, there is little in common other than the ingredients itself. Further, the choice of flummery base was equally important. Full details at Villa Tempest, My food blog.

I chose a non-dairy Flummery BECAUSE I wanted the tea to fully express itself without being masked by the inclusion of dairy. This results in a light, fluffy, ephemeral, and delicate dish, that is really delightful and refreshing to eat.

Finally, this is not the only way this concept can be used. The Flummery has a long history, and its non-dairy form is an excellent “modernist” base for all sorts of dishes. In keeping with its use in Tea and Food Pairing…

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.

Let your imagination run wild. Flummeries are easy to make, and with many modern gelling agents, both vegan and non-vegan options abound. From a simply British perspective, Tea and Flummery have both traveled different paths for the same amount of time. It should be a paired and shared history. So, to quote a famous tea drinking, sci-fi Space Captain…

“Make it So!”

Jean-Luc Picard