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High Art Is Served Up For High Tea At Montage

There is something so refined, so elegant about high tea. The way it forces your posture a little more erect, the way you hold the cup just a tad daintier, pinky slightly raised – a dignified person’s drink of choice. Couple it with one of the City’s most sophisticated hotels, and you have a winning combination that can rival those of aristocrats and royalty from around the globe.

Sitting in the living room of Montage Beverly Hills, I certainly see the aristocrats of Beverly Hills indulging in an afternoon of grace and grandeur. Beside me is the authority on tea and china, the creator of the china our gorgeous tea is served on, Lissi Kaplan.

Kaplan is responsible for setting the tone of understated elegance that surrounds us. Kaplan hand painted each of the more than 40 serving pieces the Montage uses for its afternoon tea service, with each piece requiring extra special attention for maintenance and when it’s washed.

“I don’t know any other tea room that has hand-painted china,” said Kaplan. “I really wanted the whole experience to be so custom.”

The project, which took more than a year to complete, was a massive one, but one the artist was pleased to do for her friends, director Ali Kasikci and wife Donanne.

“[Kasikci] appreciates detail and finery,” said Kaplan. “That is part of the reason he is so special.”

Kasikci gave Kaplan full autonomy when designing the spread, which includes teacups and saucers, serving platters and dishes, teapots, water jugs, stemware and flat ware. The design, however, was influenced largely by Donanne, who requested that California wild flowers serve as the overarching theme. “I didn’t realize how hard it was to sketch the flowers. I was surprised,” Kaplan said.

The focal point of each piece is the fiddleneck flower, surrounded by a cacophony of forget-me-nots, lupines and wild tulips. Surrounding the rims of each piece and as special touches are accents of 24-karat liquid gold. Adorning the flatware are acorns, which symbolize hospitality, according to Kaplan.

Montage’s high tea is traditional as it centers on fragrant teas (pomegranate is the specialty of the house) and is accompanied by delectable finger sandwiches and pastries, the likes of which are unparalleled. For the gentlemen, there is the Gents Tea, which is comprised of a scotch or iced tea, sliders and pie or chocolate cake.

Running between $28-$40 per tea, indulgence is affordable as well.

Kaplan is also the author of The Power of a Teacup, a story that explores art, love and sacred gardens of the classic china piece, available at www.lissikaplan.com or in the Montage Beverly Hills gift shop, where you can buy individual serving pieces from the tea as well.

High tea is served at Montage between 2:30 and 5 p.m., seven days a week.
For reservations, call 310-860-7800.

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