High Tea At Baccarat Hotel New York | The Ceremony Of A Royal Inspired Afternoon
At the British Royal Court, Afternoon Tea is a quintessential and highly elaborated daily ritual dating from the late 19th century and initiated by Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, one of the Queen Victoria’s Ladies of the Bedchamber and friend. The legend says that Anna was too hungry to wait for the traditional dinner served at 9:30 pm, and requested biscuits, bread and butter and cakes to be served to her accompanying her Darjeeling tea. She used to invite her friends along and once Queen Victoria found about it, she immediately turned it into a daily practice that later became the traditional Afternoon Tea.
Today tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water. If you fancy yourself a cup of exceptional afternoon tea and are open to taking a trip back in time to the flourishing Belle Époque in France, the mesmerizing Baccarat Hotel New York will offer you just that and beyond. In March 2015 when the hotel opened its doors, and inspiring young woman joined the team and created her own position – Tea Sommelier.
Gabrielle Jammal was born in a Middle – Eastern and British family where tea was served every day at 4 pm along with sandwiches. The little girl soaked in the whole experience that later in life would become her great passion. ” I could talk about tea all day long. The energy in tea, what it is and what it represents along with its civilized aspect. One has to sit down for tea, relax in a comforting atmosphere. I cannot imagine people fighting over tea. It’s about the joy of togetherness that transcends cultures, age groups, gender, race and religions.”
The Tea ceremony Prince of Wales, the most popular, is being served seven days a week while the remaining three tea rituals are being offered from Wednesday through Sunday from 1:00 – 4:00 pm in the Grand Salon. They are inspired by meaningful historical figures who were great Baccarat patrons and commissioned impressive crystal masterpieces, amassing breath-taking, vast collections in their lifetimes.
King Louis XV
King Louis XV Tea ceremony is imagined as a French Tea at Palace of Versailles, celebrating the king who established a glasswork factory at Baccarat, France in 1764, and adorned his place with divine crystal ‘chefs d’oeuvres.’ Naturally as one can only imagine this feast features Rosé madeleines and macaroons, and the Ruinart Rosé NV champagne – a combo exuding the French ‘joie de vivre’ that becomes more palpable with every bite.
Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales ceremony, mimicking an English tea at the Windsor Palace with butter poached lobster, salmon tartine and quail egg toast is the one that got ‘dressed up’ for Christmas according to Gabrielle, who chose as a theme The Nutcracker and gave a ‘new personality’ to the already elaborated tea protocol.
Initially reserved and serious, ensuring that she does her job to perfection, Gabrielle’s face lightens up more and more as she talks about her beloved teas. A tiny pin in shape of a teapot is adorning her elegant black dress and it’s clear by now that she approaches the art of tea with the respect and love that an artist would his work. And she has equal passion for the historical figures who are the point of reference for her work.
The Sultan Abdulaziz
A favorite of Gabriell’s The Sultan Abdulaziz is an inviting imaginary trip to Dolmabahçe and Yildiz Palaces, homes to the largest collection of Baccarat Crystal chandeliers in the world. From Pistachio financier to duck prosciutto and babaganoush, Rose halva and Apricot Saffron Jam, this particular combo is perhaps the most enticing and rich in flavors.
Tsar Nicholas II
And of course, the tea romance would not be complete without the magical Russian touch, Tsar Nicholas II. A Caviar tea for two, an opulent four-course tea experience including Caviar and Krug Champagne, leaving us dreaming of Moscow and saying ‘Spasibo!’ (Thank you in Russian).
Gabrielle credits her love for history and passion for women empowerment as inspiring elements of her work: ” Queen Victoria wanted to offer autonomy to women and the Afternoon Tea was an opportunity to get together and gossip during an era where women’s freedom was restricted. It was actually more like First Girl’s Club. I’m all for it. To me, the tea ritual had substance back then because of what it stood for, and it continues today with generating awareness of togetherness and happiness.”
While I was savoring my Prince of Wales, the superb crystal chandeliers with gold and ruby accents, the royal red roses and heavy curtains enchanted my heart in such a splendid way. And the moment I took a bite of my mini pastry, the story of Marcel Proust and his petite madeleine came to mind along with the nostalgia for Belle Époque. For a moment I thought I caught a glimpse of Toulouse-Lautrec seating across the table, wearing his signature round glasses, and raising his cup of tea in much delight… Well, one can only dream in this romantic, divine space – Baccarat.