August 12, 2006
Second Sa-Tea-Day

Remember when Second Saturday - Sacramento's monthly art stroll - was a good way to get free wine? At least it was until police cracked down on the giveaway. You still can find free wine at Second Saturday, but some places, under the pressure of city officials, now charge for it, though the levy rarely is high.

At any rate, change is in the air, at least at Le Petit Paris, the classy French boutique along 19th Street. Of all places open this evening and attempting to draw the ambling curious, you'd think a shop specializing in the French arts of all sorts, from aromatic soaps to snazzy threads, would be pouring a decent French wine.

Instead, owner Tassina Placencia was showing off her latest discovery from Paris - tea. Like French art films, these teas are an acquired taste. Not content to simply package black or green tea, the tea house O Doro blends leaves with all sorts of other things, like flowers, fruits and nuts. Here, she suggests, have a cup of this Sans Complexe, a delicately fragrant blend of black tea with zucchini, tomato, citrus peel and peony petals, among other ingredients. The flavor was delicate, with faint suggestions of each of its curious contents. We followed it with an iced tea, Place Saint Marc, an aromatic, viscous and sweet blend of sunflower petals, strawberries and vanilla. It smelled kind of like cedar, and tasted distinctly of vanilla.

Like I say, they are an acquired taste, and I'm suspending judgment on whether I would pop for one of the pretty but pricey tins - $29 for 3.5 or 4.4 ounces.

Placencia says she's the first person to import the teas into the United States, even though O Dor has been blending teas since 1842. They're all natural and all organic, she notes. She says she was drawn to the product by its uniqueness and packaging. Those bright pastel tins are cute and eye catching, and they could be put to all sorts of other uses when the tea is gone.

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