Radisson Blu, the newly-opened luxury hotel in Banjara Hills has the first tea bar in the country. Robert Schinkel, brand ambassador of signature Ceylon tea Dilmah, tells Lakshmi Ramakrishna about his special tea and how it can give you a high.
Move over lime juice, tonic, orange juice and soda. The ubiquitous tea which we are used to having hot or cold is, believe it or not, a great cocktail ingredient may be news for many. This has been made possible thanks to Robert Schinkel from Netherlands. Born to a Dutch father and an Indonesian mother, Schinkel after graduating in political science, dabbled as a bartender in three clubs before turning a tea mixologist.
Participation in a contest conducted by Dilmah changed Schinkel’s life. “In 2008, I enrolled in the Dilmah Tea Sommelier Competition in Europe and won the contest. It was then that the Dilmah owner Merrill J. Fernando invited me to visit the tea plantations in Sri Lanka.” After reaching the Palk Straits, he paid a visit to the tea gardens and learnt about tea grading and tasting. He won Fernando’s heart after he made a tea-based mocktail for him. “The Sri Lanka signature tea manufacturer loved pure tea, but after I added his favourite Udawatta Highland Park Whiskey, cinnamon, cardamom, oranges and sugar, he really enjoyed it,” recalls the tea connoisseur.
He was offered a job at Dilmah and since then there has been no looking back. The company has launched seven tea bars in the world, while the eighth one and the first one in India opened at Radisson Blu, Hyderabad. Schinkel says that in many tea producing countries like India, Thailand and Indonesia, tea is consumed the traditional way. “Pure tea is consumed by connoisseurs, while cocktails have been enjoyed by people over the age of 21. I am convinced that I can create a cocktail for any age group.”
Tea mixology can be conducted with a person’s favourite fruit, spice, spirit and can be had hot and sweet or hot and sour.
Speaking about his journey of mixing beverages and flavours, the Dutchman says he began as a bartender and moved to becoming a barista. The Dilmah ambassador has trained 15 staff members of Radisson Blu in tea mixology, with 31 varieties of single origin tea, tea-based cocktails and mocktails.
He says the mantra of tea mixing is that the flavour of tea must not be lost. Personally, Schinkel has six cups of tea in a day and downs two cuppas before beginning his day. His future plans are to own a tea bar of his own in Amsterdam, write a book and share his passion for the rest of his life.
Vanilla Ceylon Tea
This is a light, bright tea with a sensual and aromatic finish. The combination of tea and the soothing aroma of vanilla make this a delightful drink.Ingredients:
2 gms tea leaves; 30 ml vanilla Ceylon Tea; 20 ml vodka;10 ml apricot brandy; water as required;
Orange twist for garnishing
Brew 2 gms of tea in 100 ml of water for 5 minutes and keep aside to cool
Vigorously shake all the remaining ingredients with a few cubes of ice with the tea for 8 to 10 minutes
Pour into shot glasses and serve chilled.