Event - Seventh Tea Bar Preview

Are you a fan of tea? I sure am, and I am so excited for the opening of Seventh Tea Bar located in Costa Mesa in the OC Mart Mix. Seventh will be neighbors to the well-known Portola Coffeehouse, both of which were concepts created by the craft beverage-minded Christa and Jeff Duggan. Portola has become infamous for its craft coffee experience which spawned the Theorem bar, a craft coffee bar experience (think of a cocktail bar with coffee instead of alcohol) with educational sessions which you can reserve to attend. Now Seventh has sprung through as a craft tea place where not only can you enjoy your cup of tea but become more educated along the way. In fact, the name itself is worth noting: Seventh is named so because tea is believed in China to be the seventh of seven life necessities. The knowledgeable staff will help guide customers through the different teas and brewing methods, something we all got to see firsthand as we checked the place out during a media preview.


The first station we stopped at was for their Yunnan Gold Tip tea from Yunnan, China. Served by the talented Truman, we learned of how this type of tea in addition to being peppery, brisk, spiced, and a bit strong in taste is in line with the historic practice of only allowing royalty to drink tea made from the tips of the leaves. He prepared our cups for us with an aeropress typically used for coffee. By the way, did you know that technically "tea" refers to the leaves themselves and the result of processing into the drink creates the "liquor"? Interesting.


Kelly's station was my favorite as she had the Oolong Fanciest from O Mei, Taiwan. She used the gaiwan technique to pour our cups and showed how this particular tea can be infused several times. I have a picture of the tea in its natural state, after one infusion, and after two infusions; you can see just how much more open and translucent it becomes. I liked this tea the best as its sweet, mellow, yet complex nature proved to be refreshing despite being a hot drink.


The station with the Dragonwell 3rd from Anhui, China seemed to be the least preferred amongst others I spoke to but I actually liked it. Perhaps it was due to cultural or nostalgic association that I wasn't put off by the Chinese green tea; I've had ones much more bitter than this. In fact, I did agree with the description of this one being sweet, vegetal, and fired. Prepared with the kyusu, it was a little bitter but that's expected of this variety - still much sweeter than other Chinese green teas I've had.


One thing that I love about everything that the Duggans have done so far is that they do not let any section of their concepts fall through the cracks. Though Seventh will be primarily a tea place, the accompanying food will still be amazing. Created by Chef Katherine Louis, the menu will complement the teas but also stand along as fantastic food itself. We had the pleasure of trying these all out too. From the flaky croissants to the fruity scones, I had breakfast in mind covered. Then we had fun tea sandwiches that I could not stop eating. The Smoked Chicken Salad (smoked chicken, Greek yogurt vinaigrette, green apple, and scallions) was simply satisfying. My favorite of the two was the Gravlax Glory (house cured citrus salmon, shallot-caper relish, dill creme fraiche, and sliced heirloom tomatoes) for its soft salmon and bright creme.


Of course, you can't forget to have breads and spreads at a tea place. We got to try their French baguette with two spreads and a cheese dip, all presented in adorable little jars. The Za'attar Spiced Goat Cheese Dip (puree za'atar spice, olive oil, and goat cheese) was a crowd pleaser - it was creamy, strong, and fragrant. We also had the strawberry black-pepper jam (fruit with a kick!) and the curried tomato chutney (tangy and spiced). For a dessert, you will be spoiled with their decadent Earl Grey Truffles.


You should be excited for Seventh as I am because it will offer to you a unique experience for those passionate about tea to those new and willing to learn. One of the best things about the Duggans is their determination to help everyone become more educated about all the beverages they have to offer. With tea, it makes so much sense; the history of tea has not been as prevalent in America as in other countries but its richness is more than enough reason for us to learn. The traditions, the ceremonies, the culture associated with tea (second most consumed beverage in the world after water) are just a tip of the iceberg. It boils down to providing this side of Orange County with a one-of-a-kind cutting-edge educational eye-opener.

But don't come here with the expectation that you'll run into people with their noses held high because of their prior tea knowledge. This Victorian punk setting is for everyone and will even be kid-friendly! The open atmosphere will attract shoppers waltzing through the OC Mart Mix. The iced teas brewed in kegs and served on tap will bring in those just needing a little more push into the craft tea world. The loose-leaf teas will encourage home brewing and the overall quality of all teas will show that tea is really something special. Besides, who doesn't want to relax every once in a while with some tableside tea service? A full pot of tea, some good friends, light conversation, and great food - sounds like a perfect afternoon to me!

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook.

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