Bellocq Tea: Welcoming Fall In the Mitten State
Happy Tuesday Everyone,
Fall is upon us! With living in Michigan, when I feel the chill of fall in the air, I pulling on sweaters, boots, scarves, the whole nine yards. The perfect thing for a cool fall night, is a warm cup of tea. When I was at Rail and Anchor , they welcomed me with open arms and offered me a cup of tea. I I can remember every trip to Royal Oak, I would stop into Rail and Anchor would always enjoy the tea they offered by Bellocq tea. Fun fact guys: I love Tea! It’s not just coffee over here. Thanks to Rail and Anchor, they gave me a canister to review for the blog. Fall is my favorite season. I do love Christmas but only up until the 25th. With fall, there’s this warmth that I feel that is perpetuated with the season. The colors, the clothing, the scents, it’s all so nostalgic and so welcoming. I’m ready for you fall!
Here’s more about Bellocq:
Bellocq Tea Atelier, an inconspicuous jewel box tucked away into a quiet corner of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has turned six years of sourcing and blending the finest teas and botanicals into a devoted and articulate history of tea connoisseurship. Behind the hidden storefront, single-estate teas are sold exclusively whole leaf, organic tea and herbal blends are still assembled by hand, and more recently, a collection of expertly-crafted, perfumed candles inspired by the company’s teas can be found against a backdrop of faded, aubergine walls. A serendipitous find for the earnest wanderer, this is a space that yields itself to the luxury of fine tea and an unwavering adherence to excellence.
Even before you take a sip, a cup of tea can transport you. The aroma of leaves opened and unraveled by heat can whisk you into a heady repose, olfactory memory taking you back to the lush, moss-carpeted woods of your childhood. Or perhaps the faint, briny whisper of your first sip swings you forward to a beloved seashore. Another cup, a blend of teas more exotic to you, and you find yourself someplace dizzyingly, delightfully new. It’s this sense of wonder and discovery, and the recognition of exquisite beauty in the ordinary rituals of life, that inspired the creation of Bellocq.
The founders of the renowned tea company met while working at a well-known lifestyle brand, Heidi Johannsen Stewart on the publishing side as a food editor and stylist and Michael Shannon as a product designer. “Before Bellocq we were often traveling around the world, buying tea and sharing it with each other," Michael explains. This delightful habit became ritual and, along with a passionate appreciation of traditional artisan work, ignited the idea for a business. When their third partner, interior craftsman Scott Stewart, discovered the perfect temporary space on Kings Road in London, the trio seized on the opportunity to reveal their first line of handcrafted tea blends. After their yearlong pop-up in London, Bellocq, by then a much-acclaimed if still fledgling company, returned to New York to continue growing its collection. It still operates out of Brooklyn today.
Bellocq’s carefully selected, single-origin offerings originate from the finest estates in China, Japan, India, Nepal, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Malawi and are exclusively full leaf, almost entirely organic, and sourced from high elevation gardens. “Our selections are the result of rigorous sourcing and lengthy tastings,” says co-founder Heidi. “The unifying factor is exceptional quality and a beautiful flavor profile.” Several months each year are still spent abroad revisiting estates, sourcing new teas, and ensuring the quality behind the tea’s cultivation and its processing. “Our range doesn't include a vast selection of Darjeelings or Ceylons,” Michael adds. “We only carry one or two of these teas – the best available.”
At Bellocq, the threads of imaginative nostalgia work alongside traditional tea blending to enliven today’s tea market. Just as the slow food movement continues to offer a welcome antidote to the mass markets that direct most of what we consume, so is Bellocq ushering in a new age for the conservative and mass-produced tea market. Bellocq’s teas offer an alternative of the finest quality, not only of the small-batch, artisanal food and craft varieties for which Brooklyn has served as a front-runner. Heidi argues, “In Western culture, tea so often falls prey to this drowsy, well-worn vision of a cup of black tea that’s fashioned more by tradition than by exploration of the palate. That’s lovely in its own way, but why can’t tea be more exciting? You don’t even need to look at our blends or our more exotic herbals to get there – just take the tea. Tea by itself is already so invigorating, affecting – transformative. We want people to explore.”
When I was looking through the options that they had, I wanted something that was fall forward. So I picked their afghani chai. I’ve made it hot, cold, and I’ve even made it into a tea latte and it’s simply perfect for the fall season. Here’s the description of the chai.
A hand-crafted, evocative blend of organic Assam black tea, organic red poppy flowers, green cardamom, star anise, ginger, clove, and black pepper, this invigorating Afghani Chai may be either steeped or traditionally boiled in water with milk. (Add a handful of chopped fresh ginger for additional heat, and sweeten to taste.) Fragrant and seductive, our chai is perfect to enjoy anytime and makes your home smell utterly divine.
Organic Indian tea, ginger, organic red poppy flowers, green cardamom, star anise, clove, black pepper, and organic spices
Brewing Instructions (Traditional Steeping):
1 tsp per 8oz/250ml of water
195ºF/90ºC (Bring cold, fresh spring water to a boil. Remove from heat, set aside 30 seconds, and proceed.)
Brew 4-6 minutes
Good for 2 infusions
Brewing Instructions (To Simmer): Apply the same quantity as you would with regular steeping. Bring water to boil. Add tea (and fresh ginger) and boil for 3 minutes. Add milk and boil for an additional 2 minutes. Strain and add sweetener, if desired.
I just want to saw thanks again to Rail & Anchor for the canister of tea! If you’re in Michigan, head on down to the shop to grab yourself some delicious tea. Here’s their social media!
Talk to you guys soon!