By Nicole Brodeur
You may think there isn’t any more room in Seattle for another caffeinated drink. But Tejava (prounounced “tea-ja-vah”) won’t hear it.
The unsweetened, micro-brewed black tea (from the folks who brought you Crystal Geyser and Juice Squeeze) pushed into the Northwest the other week in an inventive way: They hired rock-star Chef Ethan Stowell to make a multi-course dinner for a group of food writers using gallons of the stuff.
Serving as host for the night was Doug MacLean, a 55-year Seattleite (and Husky) who moved to Los Angeles four years ago to become CEO for Crystal Geyser. California’s great, he said, but one look out of the airplane heading into SeaTac and his heart sunk a little.
The 20 of us invited to Staple & Fancy – already filling up for dinner at 5:30 p.m. – were led downstairs to the Cellar Room, where Stowell has hosted everything from rehearsal dinners to high-end poker games.
Everyone was handed a Tejava Julep – the tea infused with mint, and mixed with bourbon and housemade strawberry shrub. (Went down quickly. Almost too.)
Stowell stuck around to chat about fatherhood. His second son was born five weeks ago. “Franklin the Fierce,” as they call him, cries from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“Perfect timing,” Stowell said with a smirk.
So what did he come up with for Tejava?
Starters were Foie Gras with Tejava Gastrique, figs marinated in tea for three days and served with Burrata cheese (“I don’t even like figs, and that was delicious,” MacLean said.) There was Ahi tuna crudo glazed with a tea reduction and an heirloom tomato and nectarine salad with a Tejava vinaigrette.
The main course was salmon poached in Tejava and massive pork chops that had been brined in the stuff for 30 hours. Both were perfectly cooked, pink and moist. And the tea’s flavor was subtle; if anything, it calmed the acidity in some dishes and added a deep, caramel color to the sauces.
At the table, and a guest of Tejava, was Bainbridge Island nutritionist Jennifer Adler (her new book, “Passionate Nutrition,” is being released by Random House in December), who talked up the health benefits of tea. It’s a clean drink, she said, just water and tea leaves, and a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols.
Good to know, but this was hardly a crowd of teetotalers.
“There’s polyphenols in wine, too,” one writer said, then picked up her glass of white.