This past weekend, the folks at The Art of Tea invited a few bloggers to their headquarters and warehouse for an informational tour and tasting. It’s amazing how much you don’t know about something, right? Tea is enjoyable, but there is so much more about it beyond a cup of warmth and relaxation. Steve Schwartz, CEO and founder, walked us through his company’s foundations and processes, so here’s a quick rundown!
The roots of his company most likely began during Steve’s transition into the study of ayurvedic practices. He witnessed his mother’s decline and death during her battle with cancer, and that was the prime reason he turned to the study of Eastern medicine. After years of education and experience through school and travels, Art of Tea emerged. It is a fair trade business with sustainable practices in terms of recycled packaging, reduced waste, energy-efficient processing and eco-friendly cleaning products in-house. So now you’re wondering…what about all of that tea?
Art of Tea is an importer and wholesaler. They also blend tea for other brands as well. The company carries the largest variety of organic teas in the market, although not every tea in the line is organic. There are two reasons for this: either the farmer can’t afford the certification or customer demand for the non-organic product will keep it in the roster. When it comes to sourcing ingredients, quality is key. And when it comes down to flavor combinations, the Art of Tea elves hand mix, sip and evaluate each round before the final blend is boxed and reproduced.
Did you know that all teas are derived from Camellia Sinesis? If does not come from this evergreen shrub, the herbal blend is technically a tisane. That means Chamomile is not a tea. French verbena, lemon balm, mint? Not teas. They’re tisanes. Maybe you already knew this, but that was a surprise to many in the room. White, green, oolong, black and pu-erh are all varieties of teas. The variety is determined by the time of harvest and the oxidation process, with white teas being the least processed. Did you know caffeine content is determined by brew time, not leaf variety? Steeping a tea at a lower temperature for a shorter amount of time will usually result in a tea with less caffeine.
We toured the facility, then took a seat for an afternoon tasting of six different teas. My favorites were the woody Silver Needle with its furry leaves, floral Jasmine Pearls scented with jasmine flowers over the course of 9-12 nights, and creamy Mandarin Silk flavored with vanilla and citrus. Each tea had characteristics that set it apart from the others, including aroma, color and, of course, taste. Finally, it was time to make our own teas. A couple of tables were covered with bowls of dried tea leaves, herbs, fruits and spices. We were let loose to do our thing! Just like the hand mixers at Art of Tea, we sampled a cup of our teas and tweaked the final blend based on a desire to add more of the Art of Tea essentials, “beauty, brains and depth”. What better way to sample tea than with a plate of sweets and pastries. Thanks to Little Flower Candy Co., we noshed and sipped for a bit towards the end of the event.
If you are a tea lover, Art of Tea wants you to poke around their site and grab a gift for yourself or a loved one. Use coupon code “BLEND10” for 10% off your purchase.
Disclaimer: Art of Tea invited several bloggers to its event, as well as providing free samples. All opinions are my own.