Immortelle l’Amour Brunch & Tea (Menu & Ideas for Mother's Day)

Mother's Day is just around this corner (celebrated this Sunday, May 11th in North America). There is nothing as precious as the gift of time spent together. Tokens and luxuries are fabulous to give and receive, but there is nothing  more meaningful and memorable than time spent together. 

Take the time this month to honor those who have nurtured you, loved you and who have helped you grow - as well as yourself, especially if you are a parent, a teacher, or a caregiver. Whether it’s simply a cup of tea that can be shared or a  stroll together, carve out time this May to cherish and spoil those special women in your life.  

A classic mother’s day ritual – brunch is a fantastic way to spoil mom, while spending quality time together.  Inspired by our decadent perfume Immortelle l’Amour: Generous portion of vanilla, maple and rooibos – try out these fragrant twists on  quintessential brunch  recipes, such as eggs benedict on waffles  and other decadent yet nutritious embellishments. The following menu mingles the comforting yet sophisticated flavours of maple, vanilla and cinnamon along with briney, salty touches of sharp cheeses, sour apples, candied salmon, a touch saffron mayonnaise or a generous dollop of yoghurt hollandaise sauce. 

Mother’s Day Brunch & Tea:

Eggs Benedict & Candied Salmon on Cinnamon Waffles
Baked Sour Apple
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Tea served: Immortelle l’Amour tea, or a rooibos espresso (recipe to follow).
Rooibos Espresso:
Rooibos requires high heat (90-100c and prolonged steeping or even simmering). That's why it's safe to use it in a stovetop mokka machine or espresso machine, to get a heavnely, richly concentrated brew of this smooth, naturally sweet tea. To prepare your rooibos espresso simpley fill the espresso "funnel" with loose leaf plain (unflavoured) rooibos and prepare as you would any espresso. Serve as it is, or with a bit of milk of your choice (i.e.: whole milk or almond milk). 

For the Cinnamon Waffles:
4 eggs
4 Tbs grapeseed (or another non-GMO vegetable oil)
2 cups milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
- Separate the eggs.
- Whip the whites until soft peaks form.
- Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Stir in the milk.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt).
- Carefully add the flour mixture into the egg yolk and milk mixture, one-third at a time.
- Fold the whipped egg whites into the rest of the batter you have just formed.
- Cook in a well-buttered waffle maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Note: The waffles can be prepared in advance and kept frozen; then toasted before serving.

For the Eggs Benedict:
Prepare yoghurt hollandaise sauce
Poach eggs (1-2 per person). Brush the waffles with butter and top with slices of candied salmon. Place a paoched egg on top of the salmon, and spoon over the yoghurt hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately.

Another nice contrast to all this sweet and salty flavour is a baked Granny Smith apple (the only apples that still retain some flavour this season), or a baked rhubarb compote (prepare similarly my Rosy Rhubarb Crumble - but without the crumble and rosewater. The berries are not mandatory either - unless they're already in season in your part of the world!).
Hope you enjoy this lovely Mother's Day brunch with your family!
And if the weather permits, go for a picnic and enjoy Mother Nature. More thoughts on that on the following post...

New Teas!

New Teas! by Ayala Moriel
New Teas!, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
At long last, I've re-launched my entire tea collection at the inaugural Vancouver Tea Festival this past weekend - including the long-time favourites Immortelle l'Amour and Roses et Chocolat teas, which were both out of stock for longer than we could tolerate... It's been a long, painstaking process of sourcing, sampling and testing teas and various fragrant botanicals from different origins, comparing them, formulating, tasting and fine tuning my vision for each one of the teas, complete with the tea label design, French translation, and printing... The entire process took 4 years!

Each of the 4 teas in my collection was inspired by a distinctive perfume from Ayala Moriel Parfums' line of all-natural, artisanal fragrances that are handcrafted to perfection from the finest flower extracts in the world. The teas themselves are a blend of carefully selected perfumed teas (read: not-aromatized, but rather fragranced with the real whole fresh flowers such as jasmine, rose, etc.) and further perfumed with top-quality, freshly dried and organic or wild-harvested botanicals.

Charisma tea was Ayala's first tea blend, and the house blend she served only to guests at her West End perfume studio during the summer months, it was blended from fresh lemon verbena and spearmint leaves mixed with premium jasmine green tea. It is now available in its dry loose leaf tea form for your enjoyment year around! Charisma can be re-infused 4 times, and makes for an excellent chilled tea or add a splash of rum and a slice of lime to turn it into a tea mojito!
The tea was inspired by Charisma perfume: a fresh floriental fragrance based on the contrast between cool and warm notes: jasmine sambac, gardenia, tonk a bean, kewda, green tea, sandalwood, spearmint and bergamot.

Zangvil tea was created in 2011, to coincide with the Zangvil fragrance launch and our White Potion fragrant chocolate bar we collaborated on with CocoaNymph (you can read more about our amazing tea party we hosted to celebrate this triple accomplishment). Zangvil is all about ginger - a note that is comforting, warming and sexy. The perfume is a honeyed amber-and-ginger fragrance that is as cozy as a cashmere sweater; and the tea reflects that with delicate silver needle jasmine white tea, infused by rare botanical musk seeds, vanilla beans and of course - crystallized ginger. It can be infused up to 7 times to produce a clear, shimmery liquor that is a delight to all the senses!

Immortelle l'Amour tea is an elixir of love, and full of anti-oxidants yet caffeine free. This rooibos-based tea is perfumed with vanilla bean slices, organic orange peel and Ceylon cinnamon bark. Calendula petals add a stunning visual effect - like threads of sunshine within the beautiful red-maple hue of rooibos. Immortelle l'Amour perfume was inspired by a love story, and the Quebecoise tradition of making Tire sur le neighs (taffee on the snow). It has notes of immortelle, maple syrup, rooibos, cinnamon, orange and an overdose of vanilla. The tea is wonderfully sweet on its own, and can be re-steeped twice (which is very unusual for a rooibos tea!). It is particularly luxurious when served with pure maple syrup, and makes a wonderful accompaniment for a brunch of cinnamon waffles :-)

Roses et Chocolat tea is arguably the most luxurious and seductive of all 4 blends. It also was the most challenging one to blend and took Ayala 4 years to perfect: it required an expert patience and masterful blending of China black tea, rose petals, fine Darjeeling,  cacao nibs and exotic spices to create the perfect balance between the smooth, rich, floral and spicy elements. This tea is a message of romance and seduction in a cup. Enjoy this whenever you have a chocolate craving (but don't want the calories ;-) Or if that's not your concern - it may very well be served with a square of dark chocolate or Rahat Loukum (Turkish delight). Roses et Chocolat perfume, which inspired it was originally created for Valentine's Day 2005 as a limited edition. We could not keep it on the shelves long enough ever since. It is also available as a chocolate bar (72% cocoa with rose otto, saffron and chilli, which we've developed with CocoaNymph) and a scented candle made of organic soy wax (designed in collaboration with Gabriel's Aunt).  

Vancouver Tea Festival

Alicia at our booth at the Vancovuer Tea Festival (November 2nd, 2013).

New Immortelle l'Amour Tea

Floating maple leaves by Ayala Moriel
Floating maple leaves, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
The other day I had a "Eureka!" moment, when upon blending the 2nd version for my Immortelle l'Amour tea (which was discontinued a couple of years ago, when my tea blending master Dawna retired from the business - though I always hope only temporarily! Her tea blends are exceptional and inspiring). So the moment it got to where I wanted it to be made my heart skip a beat: I smelled the blend, and it reminded me both of my perfume, and of Dawna's original blend. I had to steep a few teapots before sharing the news (what if it was just that scoop that tasted like this?); and yesterday it passed the final test, as I shared a tea pot with this tea's greatest fan - my friend Dean. While it is obviously more vibrant and fresh than what I have left from the previous tea version, I think I've finally nailed it down. Yay!

It was a tremendous challenge to source all the ingredients I needed to re-create the blend, and have my own seal of approval of it, and embed my own interpretation of tea into the project. The first new tea blends I released (Charisma and Zangvil) were my own original blend, so it was a lot easier to simply go wild and blend the best imaginable tea surrounding the chosen ingredients, and with reference to the perfume as a starting point. Both were a purely creative adventure. Charisma being my very first tea blend ever, which was based on a blend of fresh spearmint and verbena leaves with jasmine green tea (and had to be modified for a dried herb and tea blend); and Zangvil being a multi-faceted tweaking project for a very clear vision of a perfumed tea I had in my mind.

With Immortelle l'Amour and with Roses et Chocolat the challenge was greater. First of all, sourcing wise, it was a lot more difficult than I even imagined to source the tea leaves themselves (the black teas for Roses et Chocolat; and the rooibos - as common as it may seem, is difficult to source high quality in bulk, while meeting various wholesale companies' minimums...).

Recently, at long last, things came together in the tea frontier. Partly because deadline was pushing and I really didn't want another winter to pass without my teas. But the other part must have been serendipity, and I was able to work with one of the leading tea importers in town - Pedro Villalon from O5 Tea Bar - and source a few of the missing tea leaves. I now have organic rooibos of the best quality I've ever encountered for Immortelle l'Amour; and a few other teas that you will meet later on in my upcoming new tea blends...

Immortelle l'Amour Tea Blend 2013

My new version of Immortelle l'Amour is based on a robust, full-bodied organically grown red rooibos, a tad malty, reminiscent of vanilla-scented tobacco, ripe apples and is utterly smooth and sweet as it is. With the added elements of Yellow petals of organic calendual add a fiery visual effect that truly reflects the tea's warmth and golden sweetness.

Immortelle l'Amour tea is prepared by steeping the tea in boiling hot water for at 5 minutes. Another brew can be made by re-steeping - resulting in a milder tasting liquor, but still very fragrant and flavourful. Double steeping is rarely a possibility with rooibos teas, so you can only imagine how excited I was about the potency of this tea!

Immortelle l'Amour tea has a very smooth, almost velvety finish, and a sweet aftertaste. It is delicious on its own. For added sweetness and to exemplify the maple-theme of the perfume it was based on*, add a few drops (but no more than 1/2 teaspoon) of maple syrup. And to make it even more luxurious - add a splash of whole (and preferably non-homogenized) milk.

Suggested pairing: this tea will make a wonderful addition to brunch affair with cinnamon waffles or whole wheat pancakes, served with real maple syrup, of course! It also makes a luxurious, relaxing evening or afternoon tea on its own or with a slice of pumpkin pie or with few dried Gala apple chips on the side. Kids particularly like this tea, as it is sweet and fruit and flavourful but gentle on their delicate palates. For a grownup's nightcap, add a shot of whiskey to a warm cup of Immortelle l'Amour tea and stir with a cinnamon stick! 

The next phase is completing the design and print of the label - and of course going to production and making a first larger scale batch. I'm excited and thrilled that it will not only be ready in time for my Halloween Tea Party, but also for the inaugural Vancovuer Tea Festival which I'm part of, taking place November 2nd, 11am-5pm at the Creekside Community Centre in the Olympic Village (1 Athlete Way, Vancouver). You can get your advance tickets for the festival, and also pre-order your own tin of Immortelle l'Amour Tea (please note that it will come in a 2oz white tin, the new tins like the one I was using for the Charisma and Zangvil teas - I just have to wait for the labels to be ready before I can do an Immortelle l'Amour tea photoshoot!). 

* Immortelle l'Amour is a perfume that revolves around the theme of immortelle or helicrysum flower, which is reminiscent of maple and fenugreek
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