Checking In to Tea Service at Seventh Tea Bar at the OC Mix

Checking In to Tea Service at Seventh Tea Bar at the OC Mix
Anne Marie Panoringan

More often than not, when we think holidays, we think FEAST. Overindulging, eyes bigger than your stomach, "Where's the Aperol?" feasting. But what if your family is a single parent (or comparable mini-family) who wants peace and quality over quantity? Our holiday alternative to the big brunch resides in a preferred neighborhood: Seventh Tea Bar inside the OC Mix.

Stereotyped as a high-falutin' concept, tea service is only as stuffy as its setting. Cast off those notions of lace doilies and Mrs. Potts: We're in Portola country.

Joined by our Valentine's lunch date, we opted for the more modest of two options. 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. Before we begin, our hot tea of choice is requested.

Five major categories, another 10 subdivisions and more than a dozen options later, it all becomes a little Greek to us. Owners Jeff and Christa Duggan take their tea as seriously as their neighboring concepts Portola Coffee Lab and Theorem. Establishments we've sipped at generally refrain from going into nearly as much detail--which is fine if it doesn't matter. Yet for our money, it was as important as deciding on what varietal of red wine to consume. Were we in the mood for assertive or sweet? Vegetal or brisk? We ultimately decide on a rich, black tea.

The Salty Sweet
The Salty Sweet
Anne Marie Panoringan
Based on our choice, chef Katherine Louis chose our sandwich fate. Social-media apps made us request a tarragon-chicken-salad sandwich, but what stole the show was the chef's selection of the Salty Sweet. Enveloped in OC Baking Co. goodness, we tear away at fresh ricotta and dried apricots. Wild-flower honey, cracked pepper and pistachio pesto blend, making for a deliciously messy bite. Ask for extra napkins. Additional nibbles included an earl grey truffle, za'atar goat-cheese dip and strawberry-black pepper jam. Our wistful inquiry about compound butter brought out a garlic curry we could not get enough of.
Checking In to Tea Service at Seventh Tea Bar at the OC Mix

We didn't forget about the tea. Shiny, majestic pots of hot water, a single-serving cup and tea leaves ready to be infused were presented on a raised tray. A magnetic timer was set to four minutes, as our barista thoughtfully explained how additional brew times would vary, based on preference. We were borderline coddled, but who doesn't expect a little doting when it's tea time?

Seventh Tea Bar is located inside the OC Mix, 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 656-2690;

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SOCO: South Coast Collection

3303 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626


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