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Marzipan Tea in Lübeck

February 4, 2011

Today’s Shop: Café Niederegger in Lübeck, Germany
Visited by: goodtea

Niederegger tea setSome time ago, I visited Lübeck, Germany. It’s a port city connected to the Baltic Sea via the Trave River. Once described as the “Queen” of the Hanseatic League that dominated trading in Northern Europe in the Middle Ages, Lübeck’s lovely architecture has made it an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  There are also a number of interesting museums, such as the almost magical Museum of Theatre Puppets and the iconic Holsentor gate. (The city is well worth a visit for a day trip if you’re in Hamburg or even Berlin.)

Lübeck is also famous for one delicious food, though–MARZIPAN! There are several marzipan producers in Lübeck, though the most well-known one is Niederegger. The company makes marzipan in all sorts of variations, from cute marzipan dinosaurs or piggies to elegant chocolate pralines and crunchy cookies. And of course, they have marzipan-flavored coffees and teas, too!

Niederegger tea cupI stopped by the Niederegger shop on my way through the medieval city center and (after fighting my way through the massive lines at the cash registers) bought some delicious sweets. Then I made my way to the back of the store and into the official Niederegger cafe! I made my way to the second floor and found a table for myself. With chandeliers, guazy curtains, and red and gold accents, the room had a nice European salon atmosphere. It was very busy, though.

I was happy to see a number of teas on the menu: Assam, Darjeeling, Chinese green tea, Earl Grey. But two teas stood out: a Rooibos Caramel tea and Marzipan Tea.  Since I’d had a caramel-flavored rooibos tea before (from Tea Gschwendner), I decided to go for the marzipan one. The Niederegger marzipan tea is available with either black tea or rooibos as the base. It comes served in a little tea pot over a tea light on a silver tray, with a small cookie, cream, and brown rock sugar on the side. Quite nice!

Niederegger waffles

If you want food with your tea, the menu offers a number of traditional German dishes for a proper meal. There is also a big selection of cakes and other desserts. The nut cake is apparently a speciality, but I went for a fresh marzipan waffle instead. You can get it topped with hot cherries or chocolate sauce, but I was being a cheapskate and went for the simplest version, which comes with powdered sugar. Imagine my delight when the server brought me a plate with not one, but three small waffles, topped with not only powdered sugar but chopped pistachios! (I love pistachios!) Needless to say, they were delicious–crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and with a great marzipan flavor!

But back to the tea! It certainly smelled of marzipan. I actually sat there and just inhaled the steam for a minute or two because it smelled so good! After that enticing aroma, though, the tea itself struck me as rather bland. A healthy spoonful of sugar and a bit of cream made it taste a bit better, but the marzipan aroma just simply didn’t come through in the taste. I was disappointed–but then I took a bite of my waffle and sipped the tea again. Suddenly I understood. It was as though the tea knew it could never compete with real marzipan, and so it concentrated on spreading the warm aroma of marzipan instead, leaving the marzipan-filled candies and waffles (which don’t smell nearly as strong as the tea) to do the work of providing the flavor! So I ate my waffle and drank my tea, enjoying the marzipan in all its different forms. By the end of the meal, I was glad that the tea provided only a suggestion of marzipan–anything more would have been too much.

Conclusion: The Niederegger cafe (and Lübeck!) is a nice place to visit. The Niederegger marzipan tea is all about aroma and a bit weak on flavor, but it compliments sweet desserts perfectly.

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