Afternoon tea is one of those English traditions that I’ve enjoyed immensely since I became a Londoner. So unsurprisingly when I was invited to host my own afternoon tea with a different twist, I was intrigued. The makers of Tsuki Mochi provided a range of the Little Moons mochi ice creams, their own dark chocolate mochi, green tea from Adagio teas and a beautiful tea set by Doki – all that I’d need to host an intimate and sweet Japanese inspired afternoon tea. Of course I couldn’t resist the temptation of turning it into a mini food photoshoot (it’s a common food photographer hazard) and knew just the person to take it on with me.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake that is wrapped around a sweet filling such as ice cream or more traditionally red bean paste. The making of mochi is an age old tradition called mochiitsuki which require steaming and pounding steamed rice until it becomes a smooth and sticky rice paste. It was originally served at ceremonies or during New Year festivities and has now evolved to an every day treat. I can’t seem to recall my first experience eating mochi but it is one of those confections that usually has me aching for more. I love biting into the chewy gelatinous exterior to reveal what sweet filling awaits inside.
I invited my food photography partner in crime, Sarka, to join me for a special afternoon tea of dark chocolate mochi and a range of Little Moons mochi ice cream flavors: matcha green tea, coconut, mango, raspberry and toasted sesame.
I was already a big fan of Little Moons mango mochi ice cream. It’s what I would typically order for dessert after a big bowl of ramen at Tonkotsu in Soho. The mango flavor comes through just enough to get the aroma I love so much from the tropical fruit. The raspberry flavour, however, was too tart for my taste. For our Japanese afternoon tea, it was the sesame mochi that Sarka and I enjoyed the most for its texture and depth. Who knew a mochi ice cream could have so much complexity?
The Tsuki dark chocolate mochi with a chocolate ganache center was luxurious. Remember the first time you ever tried a chocolate truffle? It’s a little like that, only the pleasure is enhanced by the subtle bite in the mochi. And while our afternoon tea had no savory component I was surprised that nothing was overly sweet either – as in we were not buzzing around like bees off of a sugar rush. Perhaps the delicate nature of the kukicha and genmai green teas also helped to balance it out. A note on our photoshoot: Instead of preparing a visual concept for the afternoon tea shoot Sarka and I took the freestyle approach and let ourselves be inspired by the colors and textures of the mochi. Not only do I love the results of our collaboration but also in trying a different creative process and taking the time to experiment. Thanks Sarka for the use of your space and for being a great afternoon tea partner!
Note: The mochi and teas were provided by the makers. All views are my own.