Time for Tea: Burritt Room’s Tea Pop-Up

Kettle Whistle ‘pop-up’ tea at Burritt Room

Ever a fan of a civilized (and delicious) respite for afternoon tea, here are two wildly divergent new options:

Gourmands Pop-up Tea: KETTLE WHISTLE at Burritt Room through October, 417 Stockton Street (at Sutter), 415-400-0500

Werner’s varied dessert course

On the last Saturday of every month through October (other dates and locations may happen beyond), Kettle Whistle launched its inaugural tea this past Saturday in the spacious back room of Burritt Room’s, a turn-of-the-century-style bar tucked upstairs in the Crescent Hotel.

The brainchild of pastry chef par excellence, William Werner, of Tell Tale Preserve Co. (http://telltalepreserveco.com/), and tea mavens, Lawrence Lai and Ann Lee, of Naivetea, Kettle Whistle is essentially a pop-up high tea, one where ladies (and men) meet over crumpets and scones. But this is no typical tea.

Set up for tea in the Burritt Room

At a pricey $55 per head, it’s even more costly than high tea at the stunning Palace Hotel… but with vastly superior food and tea. Though dishes and tea pairings will rotate, you can be assured of three themed courses: a savory bites course followed by a scones and crumpet tray (the passion fruit olive oil curd will blow your mind – lemon curd will never quite satisfy after that), ending with dessert. There’s even a take-home bag of tea and a snack (mine was ‘damn good granola’, a savory/sweet granola).

You are full after three courses because savory and dessert courses offer 4-5 different bites each from Werner’s creative hand. An heirloom tomato sable on a homemade cracker with lemon and a strip of lardo Iberico de Bellota was revelatory. Spheres of tomato and pig fat dissolved in my mouth like a dream I wish I could have over again. On the dessert platter, a chocolate-salted caramel fondant was silky but for a crispy strip of chocolate on top, enlivened with avocado and lime layers. I’d go back just to see what Werner will serve next.

Savory course at Kettle Whistle tea

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Naivetea‘s Taiwanese teas (a local, Bay Area company from Taiwan natives) are elegant, worthy companions, not overpowering nor overshadowed by any of the courses. My favorite was their award-winning (recently won 1st place in North American Tea Championship) Dong Ding Oolong, a gentle beauty with backbone, where toasted rice and caramel shine.

The July 23 date (two seatings) is already filling up so I’d look into reserving a spot now. Wear a hat, dress up, and come hungry.

Casual Tea Cafe: ROSE TEA, Inner Sunset (549 Irving Street, between 6th & 7th, 415-592-8174)

Rose Tea’s inviting cafe

Rose Tea, an open, airy new shop, is a peaceful respite off Irving Street that doubles as take-out cafe and flower shop. Only open a few weeks, two visits have rewarded with herbal teas (I like Fire on Ice, ginger and lime steeping with fresh mint leaves) served in one (bottomless) pot with a mini-French almond cake and jam for $6.50.

Sandwiches ($5.95-7.50) are made with care on rye bread with sides of fruit and nuts. I liked Chicken, Apple, Cream Cheese & Raisins, and Feta, Avocado & Walnut with tomato and basil. Finish with house macarons or baklava.

With what appears to be Armenian and Greek roots (if the jams for sale are any indication), there’s also Turkish coffee, an espresso bar, and spiced rose chai. It’s a welcome neighborhood cafe for a pot of tea and a bite.

Sweets abound at Rose Tea