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A Spot of Tea at First Kettle Whistle 

Wednesday, Jul 6 2011

Naivetea and Tell Tale Preserve Company launched Kettle Whistle, their monthly tea event showcasing a range of oolong teas imported from Taiwan, last weekend at the Burritt Room. Naivetea is a Burlingame-based husband-and-wife operation just now making inroads into the Bay Area.

With tiny bánh mì in place of cucumber sandwiches and oolong instead of Earl Grey, the subdued affair was rippled with enough whimsy to keep things interesting. There were three courses plus a cucumber granité amuse-bouche and a spot of sorbet at the end; each tea was paired with an assortment of small bites from William Werner, Tell Tale's owner.

Some nibbles were ornate bordering on fussy (heirloom tomato sablé with lemon and lardo), some were interesting twists on the teatime snack (salmon rillettes on seaweed brioche), and some were just solidly prepared standards (warm, buttery crumpets with clotted cream and strawberry preserves). The teas were uniformly tasty, in particular a crisp iced peach oolong that perfectly complemented the all-savory first course. Cream and sugar were not on offer, but the complexity of the flavor profiles made the tea shine without accessory.

At $55 per person, the event is spendy compared to, say, the $35 price tag for Top of the Mark's weekend tea. Of course, the menu is much more elaborate and extensive than your typical service, with Werner's painstaking attention to detail apparent throughout. The event was fairly gender-neutral, eschewing ruffles, flower-print furniture, and ladies-who-lunch stuffiness. And while the audience skewed heavily female, there were a handful of dapper gents in attendance, boasting bow ties, argyle, and the like.

Future Kettle Whistles will be held on July 23, Aug. 27, Sept. 24, and Oct. 29. E-mail to make reservations or for more information.

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Jesse Hirsch


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