Before taking friends to a particular place for afternoon tea, I like to try the places out on my own first, to make sure the atmosphere is right, the service is attentive and the food is scrumptious. I read about TWG’s opening on Vogue Taiwan’s website, and decided to stop in for a quick cup of tea while I was in the neighborhood. TWG (which stands for “”The Wellbeing Group”) is a Singaporean company that specializes in curating teas and tea ware from around the globe. They have locations in the United States, and throughout Asia, and just recently opened up shop in Taiwan. The TWG described in this post is located in the basement level of Breeze Department Store. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is quite a generous space for afternoon tea. The front of the shop has curved glass windows, the interior is a mixture of yellow, gold, black and dark wood furniture. The chairs are wicker and black velvet and quite comfortable. More importantly, there is plenty of space between the tables, so you can sit and chat without being too distracted by the neighboring tables. The tables have crisp, white table cloths (my favorite!) and crisp napkins to match.
I ordered their afternoon tea set, where you can choose either to have a scones or muffins, or a dessert from their dessert cart, and a pot of tea from their vast selection. The tea selection was about 10 pages long, which is to be expected from a tea specialist. However, you start to lose your focus a bit after paging through the third or fourth page. (I find that Smith and Hsu’s hands-on way of selecting from their collection of teas, to be much more user friendly, and entertaining, since tea is much more than a visual process, it’s a tactile and sensory process too) I chose a lemon tart from their dessert display. There were also different tea infused cakes and macarons to choose from, but I had the most desperate craving for lemon tart, so that was my first, only and number one choice.
I took this photo on my way back from selecting my dessert. Suddenly, a waitstaff said to me, “Sorry, you can’t take photos .” I apologized and went back to my seat. She came back and explained, “You have to be in the photo, you can’t just take a photo.” I thought this was sort of a strange rule, but since I was there on my own, there wasn’t anyone to take a photo of, so I had to do things the old fashioned way; by taking notes! I wasn’t sure if the no photo rule applied to the items that I ordered, so I only got a wobbly photo of my lemon tart, and sort of hoped all the tea ware was in the frame. The lemon tart was delicious. I’ve never made a lemon tart before, which is surprising, because I love lemon flavored desserts, so I’m not sure if I’m describing it properly; but the lemon tart at TWG had two layers, a top layer of perfectly tangy lemon curd, and a creamy and lightly sweetened custard filling, all encased in a dense buttery crust. At first glance, I thought the little white tag was made out of paper, but I was happy to discover that it was actually a dense disk of sweet white chocolate, which offset the tanginess of the lemon quite well.
I ordered the Grand Wedding Tea, and to be honest, I selected it because it was a name that jumped out repeatedly when I paged through the menu. Luckily for me, the tea was lovely and fragrant, with a hint of tropical fruit flavor.
The most unusual item was the teacup. Can you see how wide and shallow it is? At first I thought it was cute, but then I realized because it was so wide and shallow, the tea cooled rapidly in it. A few sips in, I finally figured out that I should just pour in a few sips at a time. I asked the waitstaff why this particular teacup was shaped this way, and she explained that all the “afternoon teas” were served in this cup. The morning teas are served in a deeper, narrower teacup. (why?!)
Even though I don’t usually take sugar in my tea, the fat round shape of the sugar bowl caught my attention, and I couldn’t resist opening it for a quick peek. I was surprised to find rather coarse grains of sugar inside~ it turns out that they are actually called “sugar gems,” and according to TWG’s website, they are diamond shaped, and designed to dissolve slowly to “gently sweeten your tea.”
I also liked the weight of the silver spoon in my hand~ also according to TWG’s website, it’s a silver plated scoop, and actually is a measurement for how many tea leaves you need for a cup of tea. Since I always just “guesstimate,” this may be something that I want to buy in the future.
I enjoyed the Grand Wedding tea so much that I decided to purchase it so I could have it at home. The tea is black tea, infused with fruit flavors and sunflower petals. In a fit of efficiency, I had the tea gift wrapped too, so I could see the packaging and assess suitability for gift giving purposes. TWG hit all the right marks with their packaging; there is a signature double sided paper, and a brown and gold embossed ribbon.
Instead of using just plain old tape, they also have TWG label stickers, which I thought was a nice clean look for the package. Also note the crisp and precise corners on the side of the package~perfection!
The tea tin also comes boxed, with some lovely details.
The most helpful touch was that they also included simple brewing instructions on the flap of the box.
The tin is round and quite sturdy; I imagine I’ll probably use it to corral all my paperclips and a few rolls of washi tape once I’ve finished the tea. I think TWG would make an ideal housewarming gift, or a gift for your boss. Make sure to stop in for a pot of tea first before making your decision!
Overall, TWG is a exquisite place for afternoon tea, the atmosphere is tranquil, and the service is attentive. I think the waitstaff at TWG needs to be more informed about their teas (with more vivid descriptions, instead of “it’s black tea flavored with tropical fruit,” which is how they described three of their teas before I gave up and chose one for myself) but otherwise, it’s a perfect place to spend a summer afternoon.
Information: TWG Tea at Breeze Breeze Center, GF, No. 39, Sec. 1, Fuxing South Road, Taipei City 105, Taiwan| PH: + 886 2 8772 4519| Opening Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 11am to 9:30pm, Thursday to Saturday, 11am to 10pm| Please note they do not take reservations.
This was not a sponsored post, the experience and viewpoints expressed are my own. I paid for all items consumed with my own money.