A Spot Of Tea!
By Chef Julie Wilson
Photos courtesy of Jolie Tea Company, Salem MA
Spring is in full swing! The season of fresh ingredients and perspectives is here and it brings tasty treats and traditions with it. Theres a feeling of warmth and joy in the air (after an always too-long winter) which is often reflected in the food we prepare and the drinks we consume. One such drink that springs to mind is a refreshing cup of tea.
Tea has the ability to take on these attributes and conjure up feelings of fanciful delight. Some of us might even imagine we’re in Bridgerton’s Recency Era and lift a pinky finger when sipping something sweet… or bold or a bit earthy. When it comes to tea tastes, the sky’s the limit! I got to chat with Chef Amy Job of Jolie Tea Company in Salem, MA about this clever shape-shifting drink. A CSCA alum with a biology background, Amy was the perfect scientist to speak with when it comes to all things blooming.
Amy loves tea, plain and simple. But the concept of tea can be so complex. She loves the idea that it can be a unique interpretation for everyone who drinks it. She told me that each tea shop has its own perspective and personality, and everyone who sips tea tastes different notes and gravitates toward different flavor profiles. When I asked if there would be a “gateway” tea for those looking to delve into the world of bold brews but may feel overwhelmed with choice, she told me that it might depend on what they like in their daily culinary life. A penchant for berries? A green tea guy? Maybe you’re just shopping around!
When people come into Jolie Tea Company, Amy and her crack team are conscious of creating a life-long tea drinker. They want you to enjoy the taste and get you started at a reasonable price point, because tea is for everyone. And Amy wants to help cultivate those tea curiosities, making you into an everyday tea drinker
She might recommend the shop’s Rhapsody Tea for those berry lovers—Chinese black tea base with blackberry pieces, raspberry leaves, blackcurrant essence, blackberry essence, and raspberry essence. A berry nice treat for the senses. Or the Pomegranate Green Tea—China green tea base with pomegranate pieces and rose petals. It will transport you from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Or even the French Vanilla Tea—Sri Lankan black tea base with sunflower petals, calendula petals, and natural vanilla essence. This one will really get you started on your tea journey, giving you a taste of flavor possibilities to come. Are you ready to explore more?
These blends will help you set sail along the sea of tea, but what’s the most popular tea on the market right now for the Jolie team? It’s got to be the Antoinette. Amy loves creating new blends that might delight her customers, and this black tea base with vanilla bean pieces, lemon peel, lemon grass, lavender, lemon essence, vanilla essence, and rose petals is no exception. Her passion for concocting beautiful and bold flavors or subtle and succulent tastes is evident in this medly. Antoinette is one of Jolie’s first-ever blends. Eight to ten years ago, Amy put together this flavor profile to great success. She found it to be reflective of her environment and even channeling some vibes of Marie Antoinette, herself. A decadent delight.
Being a Salem standard isn’t an easy feat. It can’t hurt to put a tea called Witch’s Brew on the menu. The holiday season is year-round, am I right? Sure, in October, it completely flies off the shelves, but it’s not just for the Halloween season. Its name is indicative of what it is—a wellness brew. Amy conjures up a concoction of orange pieces, cinnamon pieces, nettle leaf, ginger root, elderberry, and orange essence to create a healing and hearty tea for year-round health and consumption. In New England, where the weather is wild, this is exactly what we need to keep going on a healthy path through the winter.
Once we finally make it to spring, we’re ready to shift into some different tones and tastes. What’s happing in tea for Jolie at this very moment? Floral themes, of course! Jolie has an exceptional four-pack of blends inspired by incredible works of art. And aren’t they actually works of art themselves? These four teas comprise the Flora & Fauna set and were blended by three different staff members with incredible care and forethought. The Ophelia, Lady and The Unicorn, Primavera, and Botticelli were all inspired by the actual art they are named after with an infusion of interpretation of the tea blenders. If you’re looking for a full-out fantastic tea experience to celebrate that shift into spring, these teas are not heavy or hearty, instead, they fill you with warm light.
The Lady & The Unicorn is a creation of green tea, white tea, jasmine, strawberry pieces, and rosehips, with natural and artificial flavors. Primavera gives us chamomile tastes of lavender, white tea, green tea, and black tea with pomegranate pieces, jasmine, orange peel, rose petals, and orange essence. Botticelli brings us flavors of black tea, oolong tea, white tea, rose petals, and rose essence. And Ophelia is white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, jasmine, rose petals, safflower petals, orange peel, elderflower, apricot pieces, bergamot oil, orange essence, and natural flavor.
These teas are filled with a mix of hushed hints and bold pops of flavor. And they look as beautiful as they taste—a tapestry of flavors woven together to please the palette. Each brings the drinker down a path of delightful discovery. Light and super drinkable, the Flora & Fauna set’s citrusy, sumptuous teas can be paired with some things from Amy’s kitchen to complete the picture. Jolie now is host to a full kitchen, making their very own orange-infused madeleines, lemon scones, and smoked salmon gougers, among other things. These three bites stand out, pairing perfectly with the Flora & Fauna set’s flavors.
If this type of pairing is something that interests you, Amy let me know that Jolie also serves high tea year-round, but it’s a more “modern take” on this classically “stuffy” affair. High tea can be as elegant as you make it at Jolie, or It can also be a jeans-and-sneakers type of event. Amy wants everyone to enjoy the experience they are interested in achieving. It’s not a Victorian-Era tea ceremony filled with lace and corsets; although if you want to dress for the occasion, she supports your efforts! This type of tea is for everyone—an easily accessible window into an idea of a more elegant time. Jolie respects the traditions but wants high tea to be for any occasion. All are welcome at the table.
If this leaves you wanting to know more, take a trip to Salem, MA, and speak with your friendly tea toter. Amy is happy to help you find your match, expand your palette, or just chat about this beautiful liquid. She took her talents and applied them to food in her own way and she wants to share that passion with everyone who walks into Jolie Tea Company. Have fun testing your tastebuds with teas!