My moleskin notebook. I have gone through dozens of notepads since I started blending teas in my living room 10 years ago. I used to sleep with a notebook by my bed for when I’d wake up in the middle of the night with some new tea idea or blend inspiration. I like to keep them handy always, you never know when inspiration will strike.
What is your favorite time of day?
During my travels and sourcing trips in Asia, Middle East and Africa, I’ve learned to appreciate the stillness of dawn. The transition from dark to light especially in LA, is one of the most beautiful and inspiring tools to incorporate in the day. I call this my “hour of power,” and it’s a time to start before the world around me wakes and feel gratitude. I focus, reflect, and work on building beyond my own self-limiting beliefs. This is when I dive deep into my Crossfit WOD or yoga practice. If I can challenge myself with the most difficult task mentally, physically and emotionally at the start of the day, then the rest of the day’s challenges seem much more achievable.
What do you consider your “uniform”?
A hand-stitched and ready for blending apron. Tea is an agricultural product and we hand-sift and blend each batch to order, so it can produce a lot of aromatics. The apron acts as a nice barrier, but we still go home smelling great, like bergamot, passionfruit or chocolate. The aprons stay on-site.
What is one ritual you do during the creation of new tea?
I taste hundreds of teas a month — from raw, single origin teas to complex organic hot and iced tea blends that we hand-craft on site in our LA facility. Consistency is key and tasting every ingredient to ensure the delicate flavor profiles are on-point requires Olympic-style precision. My spoon is an extension of me and helps me to pinpoint slight variances, while unlocking the flavor story in each sip. I hand-shape spoons for new staff members at Art of Tea.
Thanks Steve! (Special thanks to Tools of the Trade for interviewing Steve as well)