The opening of Baccarat Hotel New York marks the first hotel and global flagship by more than 250-year-old French house Baccarat to be located in New York. Honouring the legendary crystal brand’s heritage of fashioning spectacular masterpieces for royal households for generations, Baccarat New York has reimagined tea services for avid tea drinkers. Situated in the heart of Midtown, just west of Fifth Avenue, the hotel is just a few blocks apart from the Rockefeller Centre, luxury shopping, Broadway and Central Park, making a perfect pathway for your tea.
The art and talent that goes into becoming a tea sommelier is a matter of obtaining top skills and enhanced by an obsession and a love for tea. Gabrielle Jammal, tea sommelier at Baccarat Hotel New York, supervises the flagship hotel’s innovative afternoon tea program, which offers guests a unique immersion in the fine art of tea through collaborations with French gourmet tea house Mariage Frères, premier tea brand In Pursuit of Tea and Camellia Sinensis. Gabrielle passionately expresses, “tea is such a significant part of our lives and a very personal passion for so many around the world. It is part of the fabric of every culture and foundation for wellness. It is also an inspiring social experience for people young and old to enjoy and something that should be more fun than formal.” For Gabrielle, creating a unique experience is at the heart of her creations. It is a rewarding and fulfilling sensation for Gabrielle and what she loves to do the most, as she says, “people ask why I love tea so much and I guess it is because it makes me happy and just makes everything feel better.”
Afternoon tea at Baccarat New York
The 32-year old tea sommelier was raised in New Jersey. Her mother made sure she took part in their daily teatime ever since she was a little girl. Her childhood experiences and fond memories of afternoon tea kindled her passion and led her to become New York’s only tea sommelier at Baccarat Hotel. Gabrielle’s multicultural background (half British and Middle Eastern) also contributed to tea becoming an integral part of her daily life. Before her journey began at Baccarat, she worked for American tea brand Teavana and at Bergdorf Goodman’s namesake BG restaurant. Soon after, Gabrielle became a certified tea sommelier with the International Tea Master’s Association. She still believes that it takes continuous education and a desire to learn because the tea industry is continuously changing and the knowledge in this world is infinite. As Gabrielle points out, “my vision was to have the tea menu laid out ranging from light to dark caffeinated teas and to have information about each tea that includes tasting notes, regions and specifics about the type of tea it is.” Her expertise has seen her receive global recognition.
“I strongly believe that tea is ideal any time of the day or evening - whether to celebrate a special occasion or make any occasion special.” And this is what Gabrielle has perfectly mastered by pairing memorable culinary experiences that match with each tea. The imaginative afternoon tea program also offers an exclusive engagement in the fine art of tea through a celebration of historic personalities with premium tea brands. The hotel’s signature afternoon tea offerings include Sultan Abdülaziz- a Turkish tea at Dolmabahçe Palace.
Upon his travel to the Universal Exposition of 1867 in Paris, the Sultan was at once mesmerised by Baccarat crystal’s ethereal qualities. The inspired menu includes eggplant with mint, pine nut butter and fried shallots; merguez lamb with romesco and crispy rice and labneh with rose halva and pistachio baklava. Another delectable dish is King Louis XV- A French tea at Versailles. This story dates back to 1764 when the beloved King issued a royal decree to establish a glassware factory in Baccarat, France. The inspired menu also includes quiche lorraine, vanilla scented scones and rose madeleines.
If you are ever in the area or staying at Baccarat New York, do try the Prince of Wales tea which is offered daily from 1 to 4 pm, with other personalised tea presentations offered Wednesday through Sunday.
Images courtesy Baccarat Hotels