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IN THE KITCHEN : Tea Without Sympathy

March 13, 1988|RUTH REICHL

THE PRICE IS clearly ridiculous. The object itself is incredibly frivolous. The package is unwieldy. You even have to do some of the work yourself.

All this is true, and yet Tea From Trumps still makes a nearly perfect present--especially if you want a present that people would never buy for themselves. For what sort of person would willingly spend $140 for a basket of tea? Even a basket as beautiful and chock-full as this one.

Remove the hand-painted lid and you discover a rattan tea tray and a bright blue teapot. The pot is nattily attired in spotless white napkins, there's a porcelain tea infuser, and then there is Earl Grey tea.

But what is tea without cakes? The cake in this box is lemon-rosemary. If you're feeling ambitious, you can whip up the enclosed package of scone mix and serve the nearly perfect scones with sherry jelly, raspberry jam and sliced pickled oranges, also provided. If you're feeling even more ambitious, you can also whip up some of chef Michael Roberts' recipes, which he has thoughtfully included.

Only somebody who really appreciates a proper tea, of course, would be willing to plunk down this much money on an afternoon ritual. But those who can't quite bring themselves to indulge in this extravagance would probably be thrilled to have someone else do it on their behalf. Think of it this way--Tea at Trumps costs $13 a person, not including tax and tip--and it only lasts a few minutes. Tea From Trumps stays around for a while.

Tea From Trumps, $140. Available at Neiman-Marcus, Wally's Liquors in Westwood, or from Trumps Restaurant, 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood (213) 855-1480.

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