Friday, November 9, 2012

Flaming Oolong Tea

Have you heard of Flaming Oolong Tea or drank it?  I shared photos of me demonstrating it in my July 5th post, but I didn't provide any details.  Special occasions evoke the finest things for family and friends, and Flaming Oolong Tea definitely qualifies.  With its elegant flare, it's perfect for upcoming holiday festivities.
I was introduced to Flaming Oolong Tea on a friend's blog, Uniquely Tea.  A video  was provided showing a basic, no frills presentation of flaming tea [called Royal Tea].  Denise [the blog author] provided a recipe for Flaming Oolong Tea she received from a Georgia catering friend, but she said she was first introduced to it at The Tea Room in Savannah, Georgia.

I don't drink alcoholic beverages, but since this involves tea my interest was piqued and I wanted to learn more about it.  I phoned The Tea Room, and Becky [the co-owner] said Flaming Oolong Tea has been on their tea room menu since they opened 15 years ago, and it's very popular due to its fascinating and dramatic charm.  People enjoy its visual blue flame, as well as its wonderful taste, and are willing to pay $5.50 a cup.

Becky said she read about Flaming Oolong Tea, and then found "Broulee Spoons" advertised in a catalog and ordered them.  They were manufactured by Wallace Silversmiths, but are no longer being made.  She explained Broulee Spoons are used for flaming tea, while Café Royale Spoons are used for flaming coffee, but they are interchangeable.

The spoons have a round bowl shape with two prongs which hook over the edge of the teacup to hold it securely into place.  The video shows an ordinary teaspoon being used, but it's more of a challenge to keep it balanced on the rim of the teacup.  And a specialized spoon makes the experience much more elegant and refined.   As with anything tea related, isn't it usually about the details?

Since the spoons are no longer  made, the best place to find them [if you're lucky] is on E-bay, where they're referred to as "cognac spoons" or "brandy warming spoons."  They vary in price depending on how many other bidders want them too!   Gotta love the law of supply and demand!  ;-)

I have to tell you a funny story about my collection of Broulee spoons.  My family had never seen them before [and neither had I until Denise's blog post].  When my E-bay purchases arrived, I put them in the spoon cabinet without any explanation.  When my daughter came over and saw them she said, "WHAT are those?  They look alien!" ;-)   I admit, if you don't know what they're used for, they do look a bit strange. 

A sugar cube is placed in the spoon along with heated cognac and then ignited.  Voila!  A beautiful blue flame dissipates the alcohol, and when the flame subsides, the liquefied, caramelized sugar is poured into the cup of hot oolong tea.   Delicious!

There is an old Russian-Jewish custom of placing brandy-soaked sugar cubes in spoons, which are then set aflame with a candle, poured into cups of tea, and consumed during Hanukkah.  Perhaps that's the origins of what we know today as flaming tea.

Flaming Oolong Tea is prepared tableside at The Tea Room in Savannah, and it's the perfect ending to a dining experience.  Becky advises using only the best ingredients - Black Dragon tea [the Chinese name for oolong], rough cut cane sugar cubes and fine cognac.  I've had Flaming Oolong made with Ti Kuan Yin, as well as Da Hong Pao, but there are other varieties of oolong tea from which to choose.  Select one without a strong floral profile, and one that sustains its characteristics when brandy and sugar are added.  Some tea drinkers prefer a hearty non-flavored black tea, so experiment to find your favorite.

I've photographed the items I use to prepare Flaming Oolong tea.

I prefer heating the cognac in a brandy warmer [also found on E-bay] and then pouring it into the Broulee Spoon.  The secret to a successful flame is getting the brandy warm before igniting it.  And the brandy warmer adds another element to the experience.  Details, right?

The beverage will never be any better than the ingredients used to make it, so at the recommendation of those who feel it's the best, I use Courvoisier cognac.

Below is a photo from The Savannah Tea Room's Facebook page, and their flaming oolong.

If you decide to make Flaming Oolong Tea as a result of the post, please share your experience.  I'd love to hear about it. 



  1. That looks like a real treat! And I have not seen any of those spoons, but if I do, now I'll know what their purpose is. Hope you have a great weekend. Hugs!

  2. What an informative post! And do you know, I actually have one of those spoons thanks to a dear tea friend who was kind enough to share it with me! ;)

  3. I have enjoyed this experience at a mutual friends home. It was delicious and oh so much fun to see that flame.

  4. Hahaha, am not much of a drinker but this sounds like fun! Also read some recipes for alcohol toddies in 'The Vintage Teabook'.

    On another note: I have a new feature on my blog: tea interviews with fellow bloggers! Check it out if you're interested :)

  5. Am glad you had a chance to chat with Becky. She and I still keep up with one another on Facebook.

    I should think the Flaming Oolong would ignite the curiosity of any tea drinker! ;-)



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