In 1904, Thomas Sullivan popularized the tea bag. A hundred years later, the drink comes back into fashion.
If the members of the band Led Zeppelin knew (although maybe they already do) that Physical Graffiti, the legendary Manhattan building which inspired their homonymous album, is now known as Physical GraffiTea… they would probably freak out. The ones who came up with this graphological twist are also the owners of one of the most fashionable tea shops in New York. One of several. Among Physical GraffiTea’s many achievements is the selling of kombucha, also known as Manchurian mushroom, mushroom tea or Chinese mushroom, a fermented drink that many have thought of as being the potion of the future. Benefits for gastric activity, high levels of vitamin C and D, and a speed increase in cellular metabolism… everything goes (even though it is not scientifically proven) when it comes to turning an infusion that dates back to 206 b.C. China into a cool drink.
AGED IN PEONY
This is just one of several examples that proves the rise of tea in the Western world. Let’s not forget that we are talking about the most famous liquid on the planet following water, which up till now had never been considered a part of tradition in North America or Europe (except the United Kingdom, of course). Another example: Heidi Johanssen Stew- art and Michael Shannon worked together for the all-mighty Martha Stewart, owner of the greatest media empire devoted to gastronomy and lifestyle. After several trips, numerous tea tastings and many doubts, Heidi, Michael and Scott Stewart started boiling water at Bellocq, a Brooklyn shop they call atelier, a place that sparks curiosity—visitors often feel they are entering a Rembrandt. Herbs from China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, India or Nepal are sold along with different types of utensils, books, soaps and candles, creating an exceptional tea service. Although prices vary greatly, it is surprising to see that in their ‘cellar’ there are gems like the Limited No 60, aged in White peony (42 €) from Fuding, in the Chinese province of Fuijan. So now it’s time to pack your bags and head towards this region located near Taiwan, the place where the best teas in the world are cultivated. The first exports to the West, dating back to the 17th century, left from this area, thanks in particular to the prized oolong tea, known as “blue tea” for its characteristic blue hue caused by the oxidation that occurs when the colors green and black mix.
THE DECISIVE BOOM
Red tea (pu-erh) also comes from China and is famous for its disputed properties as a fat burner and a tea with low levels of theine (this one is actually true). Despite its success in the West, many people still don’t know that hair- covered leaves from old trees are used for its harvest or that its intense dark red color appeared naturally as a result of the aging process caused from years of the tea leaves being transported in wagons. Yes, the tea fever is going strong. Matcha’s potential as a trending topic also looks very promising. The rise in consumption of this powdered green tea has led to the opening of spaces like the Matcha Store in Hollywood (matchasource.com) and MatchaBar in New York. In Japan, Nestlé’s Kit Kat matcha is a complete success and in Spain, The Matcha House is the one to call (thematchahouse.com). You’ll have to try it if you haven’t already.