Tea is the second-most consumed liquid – second only to water – in the world. In England, 165 million cups of tea are drunk every day. Many of these are unexceptional beverages made from a teabag, something that offers the opportunity of a break from your everyday routine. But people are now starting to discover that tea can have a different dimension. For centuries, it has been a social ritual elevated to an art form in countries such as Japan and China, and this approach is gradually conquering the western world. Many fine dining establishments now have a tea sommelier, whose specialist knowledge encompasses the different varieties of tea, white, yellow, green, black, oolong and pu’er, and the influence of terroir just as for wine.
Some teas get better with age, above all pu’er teas, of which you can find some varieties that are 40 or 50 years old, reaching prices of £25,000 for just 35 to 40 grams. Pu’er varieties are the only teas that undergo a fermentation process before the tea leaves are dried. As a result, pu’er tea contains high levels of polyphenols, which have anti-oxidant properties. They reduce stress and and help digestion, but more importantly, the fermentation gives the beverage a deep, rich body and zero astringency.
When you have acquired a taste for teas of such quality, another problem arises. How do you store them correctly? This was the idea that occurred to Åsa Eriksson-Ahuja, when she began looking for a gift for her tea-loving husband. He was travelling a lot, liked to take his favourite teas with him, and found that in high-humidity climates, his premium teas would either mould or dry up. So she thought, if cigars have humidors, why not tea? She was rather surprised to discover that there was no such thing as a tea humidor, and so set out to create one. This 4-year labour of love developed into the Lotusier tea humidor, and a company that she founded in 2012. We spoke to Åsa to find out more about this innovative product, and about the world's growing passion for artisanal teas.
"A tea humidor enhances the tea experience. Some people like their leaves more moist, some less so, and this is why our humidor is a useful tool. Of course it makes a beautiful presentation, which is also important. The tea experience begins even before the infusion takes place. People often like to smell the leaves. It become a very sensual experience. But most importantly, this humidor protects tea from four of its five enemies: heat, light, moisture, odour, air. The only thing that the humidor can't control is temperature, which should be between 15 and 25 degrees Celcius."
Lotusier tea humidors feature a 2-way humidification system with pending patents.
The Lotusier tea humidor is a very high-end product. What sort of production figures is involved?
"We’re talking about the hundreds. Everything is made to order. Each of our five collections pays homage to a tea drinking culture: Japanese, Chinese, Indian continent, Middle East, and the Deco collection, which is inspired by the West. The 2-way humidification system has two patents pending for humidity control and distribution. The humidity of each container can be individually adjusted and remains constant throughout. When you remove the lid, the tea at the top is at the same humidity as the tea at the bottom.
“We create the designs in-house, and source the components from four countries: Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France. While tea is familiar to most people, the humidor elevates it to a new level.” This reflects the concept of a product that is not just for tea connoisseurs, but also for people who love luxury and beautifully-crafted products.
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