Tea Quiero Mucho

A few months back, I wrote about some of our favorite breakfast places in the area.  I excluded brunch venues because I wanted to cover The Whistling Kettle all by itself.  So here goes:

The Whistling Kettle Tea Lounge is in Ballston Spa, NY.  This place smacks of personality.  It’s not exceedingly romantic nor platonic, but it definitely has a feminine vibe to it.  From the warm-n-cozy decor to the meticulous food presentation, just about any woman will appreciate this place.  If you have been there, you know what I mean.  If you haven’t been there, just go; you’ll see.  

The character of the place is not heavy handed.  I’ve seen families there with parents and children of all ages.  

But… take heed boyfriends, suitors, and husbands: if you take your special-lady there for brunch, be prepared to watch your brownie-points soar.  We’ve been there several times for Sunday brunch to visit with our Saratoga/Saratoga-area friends (I stockpile brownie-points because you never know, y’know?  Yeah, you know.). 

If you’re a single guy, you likely don’t even know this place exists.  I wouldn’t know of this place if I were single (I didn’t).  Back in the B.C. days (ha ha, get it?), when I went out for breakfast (never brunch…pfft), I ordered my coffee black and asked for Tabasco when the food arrived.  Whatever panache I did have, was the bare minimum so as not to repel too many ladies upon introduction; and by the way, the ladies were never  seldom  sometimes  often repelled.  (Cati, my editor, keeps me honest [wink]). 

The place is a bit of a drive from Albany, but it is worth it; particularly if you enjoy a small road-trip.  The building is a large, red-brick, high-ceiling, single-room with many lounge chairs, small tables, and a tranquil fire in the fireplace during the winter.  There are also standard four-top tables, and that’s where we usually sit when meeting friends.  The Whistling Kettle also has outdoor seating on their patio for when the weather is nice (is that going to be soon? [looking at calendar]). 

If you’re like me, and don’t drink much tea, you’ll likely not know where to begin when you see a list of 100+ teas.  A card on each table contains a brief tutorial on the different classes of teas, but here’s the best part; there are small glass boxes of all the available teas, for patrons to smell.  It’s a great way to make up your mind.  Would-be tea drinkers are invited, encouraged even, to smell away.  There are some teas that smell like German chocolate cake, some that smell like camel-hide tanneries, and everything in-between. 

As for the food, we often order the “San Souci Tea” ($14/person), which comprises a soup or salad, sandwich, and scone or tea bread; along with your very own pot of tea.  Their entire menu is online here.

See some photos below and mouse-over for descriptions:

The tea bar.

Up close at the tea bar.

Short and stout.

Ham and cheese (no crust, of course), lobster bisque, and lemon-glazed tea bread.

A cup of asparagus brie soup on a cucumber coaster; classy, no?

Do not lick your screen.

Pret-TEA nice brunch, eh?

Brunch here is a unique, diverting, and somewhat-interactive experience.  Anomalously, on our last visit there, the service was annoyingly slow, inattentive, and forgetful.  The manager must have had the day off, because several times we noticed the four or five servers just hanging out behind the counter chatting while we waited for some attention.  Ah well, that’s what tipping is for, right?  On previous visits, we’ve had exemplary service. 

If you’re married, take the wife.  She’ll enjoy the meticulous feminine character of the place.  You can use the ride back to mention that you are thinking about buying a motorcycle, or that you want to convert the basement into a billiards/poker room.  There go the brownie-points. 

Given the season (and speaking of feminine character), enjoy this Xmas video from some of the 80’s most epicene popstars:

Maybe they oughtta call it Yuletube (har har). 

Happy Holidays to all (all four readers).


6 Responses to “Tea Quiero Mucho”

  1. renee says:

    i do like that whistling kettle and their sniff bar. sometimes it’s important to have a whiff of your tea before drinking/purchasing.

    that band aid video was just what i needed. i actually remembered most of the words! seeing all of those 80s greats all together gave me quite a chill. oh simon! i guess we better dig out those old records. good times…

  2. Kathleen says:

    Alex and Cati,
    Thank you for this post. Every time I try on a trendy piece of clothing, let me whisper “feed the world,” realize how ridiculous I will look when I pull out the photographs in 15 years, and put that snappy blazer back on the rack.
    Merry Christmas from Finger Lakes Wine country!
    Kathleen Lisson

  3. Kelly says:

    Alex and Cati,

    You have more readers than you know! I enjoy your writing very much and look forward to your new adventures. I get to live my foodie life vicariously through you. I wish you many happy and safe adventures in the coming year.

  4. Amy says:

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for this review. WK is hands-down our favorite brunch spot. I’m now hooked on Rooibus teas because of that place. Still trying to get Aaron to branch out from their “Night of the Iguana Chocolate Chai” and try something new, but it’s just too good for him to pass up.

    Nice shout-out in Steve’s TU column this week!

  5. Albany Jane says:

    Woah – this place looks awesome!

  6. celinabean says:

    I love the way you write about places. Keep the great posts coming, C