Dilmah – High Tea Challenge 2012 – Adelaide

by Doc-G on October 29, 2012

Dilmah High Tea Challenge

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to attend a culinary competition of a different kind where professional and amateur teams battled for the title of South Australian Dilmah High Tea Challenge Champion of 2012. Inaugurated by the Fernando family in 2007 in Colombo, Sri Lanka with the objective of ‘putting the tea back in high tea’, this culinary competition pits teams against one another to create new and innovative ideas utilising tea as an ingredient, but also to redefine and innovate the experience of ‘high tea’ into a modern context.

Dilmah High Tea Challenge
Members of the ‘Hilton Adelaide’ team make preparations for their submission.

Teams should consist of 2 people and are to select various Teas from the Dilmah range for incorporation into their submission. The table set up is also vitally important and must have a white table cloth and a setting for four people. Linen, chair covers, cutlery, crockery and platters are to be sourced by the participant and presented in a creative manner. Additionally, a minimum of four varieties of tea should be brewed and served at the table for judging which include:

- Traditional Black Tea using loose leaf tea served hot.
- A hot tea mocktail/tea comforter.
- A tea cocktail served chilled (tea based drink with alcohol)
- Chilled non-alcoholic tea mocktail made with either black, green or flavored tea

Dilmah High Tea Challenge
Concentration from the ‘Hilton Adelaide’ team.

As anyone who has had ‘high tea’ knows, the food is just as important as the beverage. In this competition, participants are to serve the following:

- A combination of afternoon tea/high tea food items, sweet and savoury, 2 varieties of each, and 4 pieces of each variety, to be served and matching/complementing the 4 teas submitted for tasting.

- Additionally, 2 food items (1 savoury, 1 sweet), 4 pieces of each much be prepared and served using tea as a main flavouring ingredient.

Dilmah High Tea Challenge
Judges Peter Kuruvita and Dilhan Fernando assess the competition.

Judges award points according to the following criteria:

- Table layout, menu design and written notes (along with the novelty and presentation that complements the high tea)
- The pairing of food with tea
- Tea preparation, brewing methodology and etiquette
- Menu items (variety and portion size)
- Tea inspired food items
- Presentation and concept of teas
- The use of local products supporting sustainability

Dilmah High Tea Challenge
A contestant ‘fires up’ the competition.

One member of each team must also present the tea to the judges along with their menu and explain the culinary ideas and pairing concepts in order for the judges to gain an in-depth understanding of each team’s submission.

Dilmah High Tea Challenge
Exquisite tea sets and food on show.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience to witness this event for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was great to see Adelaide’s bright, up and coming culinary all-stars from both professional and amateur backgrounds producing carefully thought out and intricately served food and beverages to a team of highly respected international judges. Secondly, whilst appreciative of real innovation and progression, it was also a nice reminder to culinary tradition to see this competition taking place, during times when it seems so many of our culinary traditions are being trashed in the falsehood of ‘progress’.

Dilmah High Tea Challenge
Fine attention to detail.

If you think you might like to enter the next competition or if you just want a few tips on how to present a high tea for your friends or family, please visit: Dilmah High Tea Challenge or http://www.dilmah.com.au for more information.

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