August 11, 2006
Look At What's Showing Up In The Tea Pot

Dinner at The Kitchen last night was as entertaining and enriching as ever, about which I will elaborate in a future dining column in The Bee's Sunday Ticket. But since we last visited The Kitchen, something new has been added to the program, and it brought dinner to such a delightful and novel conclusion that I want to mention it right away.

It was white-gloved tea service, but with a couple of twists. For one, the teas were brewed not from traditional leaves but with fresh herbs, spices and fruits like kaffir lime leaves, orange zest, star anise, rosemary, sage and thyme. Secondly, guests were invited into the cooking area to select the ingredients they wanted to blend into their own custom tea.

The Kitchen's owners, Randall Selland and Nancy Zimmer, appropriated the idea from one of Alain Ducasse's restaurants in Paris, where they were introduced to the custom and found it exhilarating. Herb teas are nothing new, but the herbs used to make them generally are dry, and when they're fresh the tea takes on a whole new refreshing dimension.

While tea purists might be alarmed by the notion of steeping anything in hot water other than traditional leaves - and I've considered myself one of them - I have to admit that the blend of lemongrass, lavender and mint that I experimented with was the perfectly light and brisk way to finish a rich meal. I'm not about to give up my fondness for lapsang souchong, but I think I've found an interesting use for all that rosemary and mint in the backyard.

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