Photo credit: Le Pain Quotidien
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Tea in Old Town
We begin our Tea Dreams in historic Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia located about 15 miles away from the nation's capitol. Since the American colonial period, Old Town has been a vibrant center of commerce and an attractive home to notable people, including our very first president George Washington, who built a town house in Old Town and stayed there when business and inclement weather did not permit travel to his estate at Mount Vernon. Old Town's original charm - Colonial architecture and cobblestone sidewalks - is carefully preserved. Old Town is also where a bakery called Le Pain Quotidien can be found.
Le Pain Quotidien is a Brussels-style establishment known for its fresh baked organic breads and pastries. Less well known is its fabulous tea! This past holiday season my sister and I tried their Brussels Breakfast, which is an organic Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka. It is a bright full bodied beverage brought to the table brewing in a ceramic pot with two small bowls - one to drink it from and the other for the used tea bag when finished brewing. It has a lovely dark reddish brown color and a pleasant aroma. And when you taste it, this tea delivers!
Interestingly, Brussels, Belgium is not known as a place with much of a tea culture. According to a Trade for Development Centre 2009 study, Belgian tea consumption measured in kilograms per capita is only 28% of the average per capita tea consumption of other European countries (http://www.befair.be/en/content/availability-sustainable-tea-belgian-supermarkets). If Le Pain Quotidien Brussels Breakfast tea is representative of the quality of tea that that small group of Belgian tea lovers enjoys, then they are quite discerning. Lucky for us all, Brussels Breakfast dry tea bags are available to take home from the bakery.
The Brussels Breakfast stands on its own as a wonderful tea, yet part of our experience the day we tried it was the atmosphere at Le Pain Quotidien in Old Town. The bakery has a casual, slightly rustic decor. Perhaps some of its charm is captured in this, our first attempt at video commentary:
at 12:04 AM