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A Chinese tea and dim sum masterclass at Yauatcha restaurant in Riyadh

RIYADH (Arabnews): Yauatcha promises a “fine dining experience that fuses dim sum, mixology, tea, and European patisserie.”

Since opening its flagship location in London in 2004, Yauatcha has expanded globally, opening in Mumbai and Bengaluru too, and then in Riyadh just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year (it reopened in June 2020).

Now the restaurant is offering a new “Art of Tea” masterclass. It’s a perfect couple’s activity — but not a particularly family-friendly one as kids will likely get bored quickly — and a fascinating introduction to the complex world of Chinese teas.

The masterclass is a private 45-minute experience that takes guests through a selection of traditional, authentic Chinese teas. You’ll discover the soft and subtle notes behind the leaves, the proper brewing and serving techniques, along with dim sum pairings that help accentuate the flavor profiles of each tea. Apart from tasting a wide variety of teas, you’ll also learn about their origins and history, and the range of health benefits that traditional Chinese medicine attributes to each blend.

The exclusive one-on-one masterclass is hosted in the restaurant’s rooftop bar and focuses on five types of tea: white tea, green tea, blue oolong tea, black tea, and a flavored dark tea.

Our sommelier and beverage manager Jegaan was hugely experienced and took us step-by-step through the masterclass, answering questions and sharing personal anecdotes along the way. By the end of the class, we’d learned a lot of valuable information about the proper brewing techniques — such as the correct temperatures to bring out the true flavors and hidden notes of the teas. What made the masterclass so enjoyable was how interactive and personal it felt. This wasn’t a lecture about teas and their origins; it was an experience that allowed us to immerse ourselves in Chinese culture.

The Art of Tea Masterclass is only available between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. through reservation and costs SAR250 (roughly $65).

For the same price, you can also treat yourself to the Yauatcha afternoon tea, which combines a classic European high tea with a blend of Eastern flavors. We would definitely recommend booking a table on the restaurant’s patio overlooking downtown Riyadh so that when the staff present a patisserie selection in an impressive ladder display you have the picture-perfect Insta-moment — especially if you time it for sunset.

From the variety of teas on offer, we selected the French Earl Grey (Golden Swan and Harmutty were also available), which is infused with citrus flavors and blue cornflower, giving an aromatic and soothing blend.

The afternoon tea included two types of dim sum platter. The classic steamed contained shrimp (har gau), scallops siu main and seafood black truffle dumplings, all of which were delicious, offering a blend of seafood and umami flavors with a hint of truffles and mushrooms — a great option for seafood lovers.

The baked dim sum platter consisted of sesame prawn toast, mushroom spring roll, and venison puff. The latter was the highlight — the warm venison nestled in the flakiest puff imaginable.

The extensive dessert options offered something for everyone. The lemon crème with sables Breton (salted-butter cookies) gave a sweet citrus hit, for example, while the pecan coffee cube was a deep, rich, nutty delight.

The standout dessert, though, was the hazelnut yuzu chocolate bag — a mini handbag made of chocolate and hazelnut with a yuzu bar tucked inside. Not only is it a delicious use of the East Asian yuzu fruit (a hybrid citrus fruit), but the floral-decorated mini chocolate handbag gives you another perfect Instagram picture.

The afternoon tea runs from noon to 8 p.m., and we would recommend booking after 3 p.m. if you’re going to sit outdoors.

With its blend of authentic culture and delicious flavors — topped off with several stunning photo opportunities — we’re sure Yauatcha will continue to be as popular in Riyadh as it has proved to be elsewhere.