Tropical Tea Party - The Preparations

This is just a glimpse at the preparations for the party. I had some touch nuts to crack!

The coconut was to be used in the Mexican fruit plate/salad (see below). You start by poking the holes at the top of the coconut (I do it with a hummer and a nail, but you can also use a screwdriver). If the water smells and tastes sweet, it's a good coconut. If it smells and tastes sour, don't bother opening it. This was the second coconut I tried (the first one was rotten!), and it was so good Tamya and I sipped out the coconut water with a straw. So much fun!

Coconut Cocktail Au Naturelle, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Cracking a Tough Nut, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

After draining out the water, most coconut cracking experts would tell you to use a big bone knife and just attack the center. Being a vegetarian, I don't have a bone knife and I am too scared to hurt myself in the process, so I just use the primitive method of nailing the coconut in a corner and than banging heavy objects such as rocks at it until it cracks up. It shouldn't take too long. A hummer is my favourite choice of a heavy object because it has a handle and this way I don't risk banging my fingers when the rock hits the coconut ;-)

Cracked Coconut, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

To separate the meat of the coconut from its brown shell, you msut use a flexible knife and work your way around. Try to break the coconut into smaller pieces, that helps too. Once all the meat is removed, you still need to use a potato peeler to remove the brown skin that separates between the white coconut meat and the hard shell. Be sure to store your coconut in clean cold water in the refrigerator until use, so prevent it from turning gray or drying out.

P.s. It surely was not helpful that we had a heat wave and the kitchen felt like oven during the day. So I did most of the baking late at night... During the day there was no way I were able to make a shortbread crust of butter cookies of any kind!

Tropical Tea Party - The Beverages

Although a tea party, the beverages were not restricted to tea only. Here is what we had:
The Charisma house blend of jasmine green tea, osmanthus blossoms and freshly picked herb from my patio - spearmint, lemon verbena and lemongrass!

Magnolia Oolong Tea - one of my favourites, from Murchie's.

Iced tea - of Lychee Black Tea (I used Inner Alchemy's Moonbeam Glory, which also is flavoured with other berries), only slightly sweetened and mixed with lychee juice and a couple of fresh lemon-geranium-leaves (also from my patio!). A full recipe will be posted here at a later date.

Coconut Milk + Lychee Juice was another refreshing drink, although without any tea involved.

And of course - tea tasting from my line of teas.

Tropical Tea Party - The Presentation

Tropical Flowers Scent Strips, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Tropic flowers we smelled: Tuberose absolute, orange blossom absolute, golden champaca absolute, ylang ylang extra, ylang ylang concrete, Pink Lotus, Jasmine grandiflorum, Egyptian Jasmine, Jasmine Sambac, Attar Motia (jasmine sambac attar), Tea rose essential oil (from China). When smelling the jasmines, we compared the different kinds, and also demonstrated their relationship to civet (the indole that is so strongly present in both - especially in Jasmine grandiflorum from India).

Indian Attars, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Indian Attars we smelled at the presentation:
Kewda Attar, Summer Rose Attar, Saffron Attar, Attar Motia (Jasmine Sambac), and several Indian attars that are complete perfumes made of tens of not around 100 different spices, woods and flowers: Amulya Attar, Amberi Attar, Black Musk Attar

And last but not least - presenting 4 Limited Edition Tropical Flower & Spice perfume, which I will discuss in more detail over the course of the next few days on SmellyBlog. For now let's just announce their names and main theme:

Tuberose Massaman - tuberose against steamed curried rice notes of turmeric and saffron attar, and of course - a massaman curry blend of spice oils and lemongrass.

Jasmine Pho - clear and transparent jasmine tea against fresh cilantro, basil and lime as they steep in a freshly brewed Vietnamese Pho noodle soup.

Curry Rose - Indian summer rose attar and Ruh Gulab spiced with cumin-laden Indian curries, overtop the fenugreek-like notes of immortelle and patchouli shawls.

Champaca Chai - cooking chai on top of the Himalayas, evoking the spice, tea, steamy full-cream milk and the smoke from the woods that burnt to make this elixir.

Tropical Tea Party - The Food

5-Tiered Tea Treats Tray, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

First tier: Tea-Sandwiches
Cucumber & Mint
Tomato & Tagetes
Radish & Mint
Carrot & Ginger
Avocado & Cilantro

Second tier: Scones
Plain sweet scones (Empress Hotel Recipe)
Devonshire Cream
Lemon curd
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Peach/Apricot Jam

Third tier: Cupcakes and Small Deserts
Fresh Black Currant Cupcakes with Violet Glazing
Miniature Crepes with Mango & Whipped Cream

Fourth tier: Cookies
Lemon-Lime Wafers (icebox)
Macademia-White Chocolate Drop Cookies

Fifth Tier:
Charisma Truffles
Cubed Coconut, Papaya & Mango with Lime & Chili
Jasmine Tea Tarts with Lychee Fruit
Chocolate Macarons

5-Tiered Tea Treats Tray, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Lavender, Blueberry & Violet Cupcakes, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Lavender-Bluberry-Violet cupcakes
lavender-blueberry batter; violet confiture glazing, violet-cream-cheese frosting; decorated with candied violet and fresh sprigs of lavender flowers

Earl Gray Lychee Tarts, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Earl Gray Lychee Tarts
-Earl Gray shortbread tart shells filled with Earl Gray ganache and topped with fresh lychees, blueberries and raspberries

Scones and Jam, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Sweet scones (I used The Empress Hotel's recipe), with jams and Devonshire cream. Also great with lemon curd.

Mexican Fruit Salad, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Freshly cut tropical fruit - papaya, mango and coconut - topped with chilli and squeezed lime juice.

Tropical Tea Party - The Guests

And of course - the people make all the difference. I was fortunate to have the most amazingly passionate, sweet and fun guests at my last couple tea parties. I have a feeling they all enjoyed smelling the different raw materials, discovering my perfume collection - and of course, sipping on some fine tea and nibbling on the pastries and tea sandwiches we made for the party (this time I got my boyfriend and his sister to my rescue as temperatures went so high I had to leave baking to evening only (meaning: very last minute). Everything turned out delicious...!

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