Where technology meets tea to create the perfect cuppa. That is the lofty goal that owners Jeff and Christa Duggan of Seventh Tea are striving for with the ultra sleek, American made Steampunk 4.0 from Alpha Dominche®. Seventh Tea Bar is the first store to utilize the Steampunk for tea (versus coffee) and, with Jeff’s laser-like focus on perfection, I have no doubt that a cup of tea scientifically brewed by the Alpha Dominche® at will bring a modern interpretation to the art of tea that transcends current brewing methods, especially when you consider the meteoric success of Portola Coffee Lab, the Duggan’s first foray into machine domination, which quickly achieved cult status among java connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike for the unparalleled coffee experience Portola delivers. I proudly introduce my coffee cultist friends and visiting guests to the altar of Portola just to hear their groans of ecstasy.
Personally, my limit is one cup in the morning, so tea in the afternoon is more my style. Both Seventh Tea and Portola are suitably located in the sanguine hip, eco chic environs of the OC Mix at South Coast (SoCo) Collection in Costa Mesa where artsy boutiques, retro vintage stores, We Olive and wine bar, an artisan cheese shop, not to mention Noah Blom’s ARC, the newest culinary sensation in OC, and the best Saturday farmers market in the county, make OC Mix an easy destination to love.
Traditionalists fear not, you may also enjoy tea service in the traditional Gongfu tea ceremony style albeit with Seventh Tea’s techie bent that includes a timer you set for the steeping time necessary to achieve optimum flavor from the tea you have selected (your server will advise you). Gongfu cha literally means “making tea with effort” – obviously this was centuries ago before the Steampunk was invented 😉
In our fast paced world, we could all benefit from the serenity and introspection that is part of the Chinese tea ceremony or even just taking a breather mid-day to relax, socialize, and share tiny nibbles as is the tradition in Europe and many parts of Asia, especially areas like Hong Kong that were under British rule. It’s much more elegant and civilized than a coffee to go from some ubiquitous chain, but it seems that Americans can’t relax anymore – we just want to get more amped! Did you read about the caffeine in candy now? I for one, still remember afternoon tea amidst the opulence of The Peninsula hotel in Hong Kong; feeling transported to a bygone era as a string quartet serenaded guests conversing in hushed tones between sips of tea from dainty white china.
Back to the real world…you can have a lovely relaxing tea service with all the trimmings in a smartly decorated space at Seventh Tea Bar. Weeks prior my date and I decided that Valentine’s Day would be the perfect opportunity to treat ourselves to a tea-for-two rendezvous at Seventh Tea Bar which is very reasonably priced, especially if there are two or more in your party. Bantam tea service ($25 for up to two guests) includes a teapot for each, a duo of sandwiches, breads, spreads and sweet treats. Grand service ($35 for four guests) ups the menu offerings by one. The tough part will be choosing your tea from the extensive list – do you like subtle and calming, rich and robust, herbal or floral notes? One of us, needing a bit of caffeine for the work hours ahead, selected rich black tea and the other selected delicate chrysanthemum.
Mouthwatering photos of the tarragon-chicken-salad sandwich posted on social media preordained one choice, the others we left to chef Katherine Louis, and her inclusion of the Salty Sweet definitely stole the show. At first bite, we recognized the goodness that is only OC Baking Co.’s bread surrounding the divine melding of fresh ricotta, a pistachio pesto blend and sweet dried apricot drizzled with wild-flower honey and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper. Additional nibbles included an earl grey truffle, za’atar goat-cheese dip and strawberry-black pepper jam. Always thinking ahead, the list of compound butters on the menu sparked our curiosity and our waiter gladly obliged by bringing us a taste of the garlic curry, and we wasted no time in bringing the remaining baguette slices to a delicious end.
Edit: Seventh Tea Bar closed at the end of 2014.
Seventh Tea Bar
located inside the OC Mix
3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, CA
More breaking news! Portola Coffee will be opening their second location and teaming their creative culinary forces with Haven Gastropub in the revival of the former Bruery Provisions space in Old Towne Orange. Set to open this summer, Provisions Market will also feature a tasting room, bottle shop and specialty market similar to Bruery Provisions, but with an even deeper selection of wine. Haven chef Greg Daniels will oversee the food menu, which will emphasize fine cheese, charcuterie, fresh breads and deli sandwiches. Now, craft beer fans and coffee cultists can jump for joy!