Tea: a small word of only three letters, representing a beverage brewed from an unexceptional looking shrub, that changed the course of global history, culture, and politics. The use of Tea leaves for the preparation of beverage goes back almost five thousand years when it was discovered by the Chinese emperor Shen Nong around 2,700 BCE. Under the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), it became their national beverage, and the classic treatise on tea titled ‘Ch’a Ching’ was composed. Marco Polo wrote about it. The Portuguese introduced it to Europe. The Dutch turned it into a profitable commodity. The British East India Company globalised and monopolised it; a practice which eventually led to a revolution in the American colonies, and to a political reform at home.
Tea has also, more than any other beverage, impacted the cultural habits of its consumers. The Buddhist monk Saichō introduced tea drinking to Japan; a country now famous for its meticulous ‘Chanoyu’ tea ceremony. For most people in India, the day begins and ends with a cup of ‘chai.’ In the Maghreb, a meal or a gathering of friends is never complete without a cup of ‘atay.’ One only needs to view the list of tea related words and phrases in the English language to gauge its cultural impact.
Anyone who has sipped the deep copper coloured brew will understand its widespread appeal; the way it can unlock the proverbial knots of the mind and body; the way it can soothe one with its sensual stimulation; the way it can provide an escape route from the burdens of the day, even if for a brief moment. Is it any wonder then that people have formed strong emotional attachments to a cup of tea? For some, this passion extends to the preservation and ageing of tea, in particular, its complex aromatic and taste properties; and it is not without good reason.
Exposure to air, light and heat can cause the oils and moisture inside the tea leaves to evaporate resulting in the loss of flavour. External odour can cause the taste to change. Humidity can cause deterioration in the structure of the leaves thus affecting its properties. Ideally, the tea leaves must be kept in sealed containers, deprived of light and in relative humidity of 55 to 70 percent. Maintaining these conditions, particularly the humidity levels, and especially in very humid and very dry climates can be a challenge, to say the least.
To address these concerns, Åsa Eriksson-Ahuja designed the world’s first Tea Humidor, which is being manufactured and marketed under the London-based Lotusier brand; specialising in comprehensive, bespoke design solutions for luxury residential and commercial spaces, and who take on new clients exclusively on a referral basis.
“It is a symbiotic marriage of art, design, and function using only the most refined materials, and exquisitely finishing”
The Tea Humidor is Lotusier’s first ‘ready-to-buy’ product. It is a symbiotic marriage of art, design, and function using only the most refined materials, and exquisitely finishing. It is designed to be a robust and portable case that can protect tea leaves from air, light, heat, odour, and most importantly, humidity in varying climatic conditions.
Sycamore wood was chosen as the base material for the case because of its durability and because it is odour neutral. To regulate and ensure even distribution of humidity at all levels, the case comes with its own German-made hygrometer; ventilation holes and discreetly hidden two-way humidity sachets.
Inside, the tea leaves are kept in four or six hand-blown, airtight crystal containers that can hold up to 70 grams of loose tea leaves. These containers are designed to keep flavours from being contaminated by external odours, and more importantly to prevent the flavours from blending into each other. To regulate and distribute the humidity levels evenly within the containers, they are equipped with specially designed channels, a built-in thermometer, and have a stainless steel base.
“It is currently available in five design themes inspired by the five prominent tea cultures of the world: Cha Jing (China), Saicho (Japan), Indus (India), Mooris (Morocco/Spain) and Déco (Euro-American); as well as tailor-made custom designs for their ‘Centurion’ members”
The case and its contents are made completely by the hands of specialist artisans. It is finished in polished veneer with chrome fittings. It is currently available in five design themes inspired by the five prominent tea cultures of the world: Cha Jing (China), Saicho (Japan), Indus (India), Mooris (Morocco/Spain) and Déco (Euro-American); as well as tailor-made custom designs for their ‘Centurion’ members.
It is in particular demand from yacht owners and globe-trotting tea connoisseurs for its functionality. It’s finishing, however, makes it an objet d’art in itself. It has received high praise, including those from Madame Yu Hui Tseng, one of the only ten recognized Gongfu Tea Masters across the globe.
“Tea is given a stage, a mise-en-scène, where it is protected, nurtured and admired – before it is even infused – thereby sparking an emotion, an anticipation and a promise”
“What touched me when Åsa presented to me her “Tea Humidor” creation, by Lotusier, was that it creates a new realm for the celebration of tea. Indeed, beyond its ability to preserve tea in suitable conditions, the Tea Humidor liberates tea from pantries and kitchens, where it is typically stored and prepared – allowing it to ascend to the privileged places we reserve in our lives, the spaces where we live, work and entertain. Just as with cigars and liqueurs in their cases and cabinets, tea is given a stage, a mise-en-scène, where it is protected, nurtured and admired – before it is even infused – thereby sparking an emotion, an anticipation and a promise. Tea has won a place of honour in the intimate spaces where we share our lives, where we reflect, and where we make decisions.”
The Tea Humidor perfectly embodies Lotusier’s emblematic attention to detail, its penchant for innovation, and a signature aesthetic that is both rich and contemporary. It is the first of its kind and sets a whole new benchmark in its field. However, it all began as a personal quest by Lotusier’s founder, Åsa Eriksson-Ahuja, to create a unique gift – a search that evoked such fascination and revealed so much potential that it soon became a true labour of love. Lotusier’s journey of many years in researching, developing and perfecting the Tea Humidor inspired the entire team to become deeply passionate about tea.
The company goes to great lengths to find woods for the Tea Humidor that are not only of the highest quality but obtained from ecologically sustainable forestry (using only wood that is Forest Stewardship Council certified). This is in keeping with Lotusier’s philosophy of looking towards the future – relying heavily on natural materials and fibres that are recyclable – while drawing on the finest responsible sourcing and resources.
Enhancing the art and awareness of preserving and enjoying fine and rare teas is a calling to which the Lotusier team is fully devoted.