I met Alicia a few months ago. She came into TOMS one afternoon wanting to discuss the possibility of selling her homemade teas, an offer that we quickly accepted because those teas were DAMN DELICIOUS. I was immediately drawn to her—the girl is cool, kind, grounded, and conversational. But I wanted to be friends with her for reasons beyond that; Alicia is also hands-down the most romantic person I have ever met.
Let's talk about romance. I've been told that I tend to wander through life wearing rose-colored glasses, which I think is very true. I fantasize the future and dance in a pool of nostalgia. I imagine the cobblestone paths and gardens that once dusted the Victorian Era, often revisiting The Secret Garden and Keats poems just so I can taste a chamomile scone. A fairy tale image of the Wild West sent me to California, where I glorified Super 8 motel rooms and paper cups filled with stale coffee. This mindset, while apt to spur to the type of heartbreak that has one belting Alanis Morissette and living off a diet of peanut M&ms, is pretty permanent, so I might as well make do.
Luckily, the world still has a few romantics wandering about, with Alicia at the top of the list. In addition to quoting Oscar Wilde and donning floor-length dresses, Alicia loves a good tea party. We met at her home in Venice on a breezy afternoon for one of her homemade recipes and female chitchat. As I wandered up the front door, I was greeted with bunnies and chickens and the smell of burning sage. Inside she introduced me to her new kitten, Bagheera, a storybook character who chased our fingernails and lounged in wicker baskets.
The story of tea is centuries old, dating back to the Han Dynasty in China. Tea ceremonies blossomed in Japan, and the act of gathering for tea has since spread throughout the rest of the world, from Asia to the UK to Venice Beach, California. Sipping tea is a lovely act; it encourages mindfulness, inspires conversation, and, with the right ingredients, can be medicinal. It's a popular setting in romantic literature, often used to illustrate relationships between characters.
We drank our tea on the wooden table in Alicia's front yard—a modern day tea party with raspberry madeleines, clucking hens, and a discussion on past lovers. The Venice breeze strummed it's way through our tangled hair, and we leaned across the wood, asking "Where has all the romance gone??!" The world today embraces a fast culture, one that involves swiping left and right for networking and dates and shopping. We're swapping quality for convenience. And more importantly, we're missing out!
To be romantic is to have eyes that magnify all that is beautiful. Romantics relish in the feelings and things that seem to defy rational explanation. We could find a million reasons to obsesses over a friggin' t-shirt. And while there is a time and a place for logic, I am not one to ignore the influx of excitement and the joy of sensuality.
When you share a drink with a friend, be it a margarita or cup of darjeeling, you get to press the pause button and embrace life's awesome little delights. Teatime and romanticism allow us those moments. We wear our comfy dresses, breathe in the flowers, and let the warm liquid flow through our bodies. We are grateful for fresh air, book swaps, and likeminded women.
What we drank: Heart Open, Mind Open (soooo apt!)
Where it came from: The tea is a product of Alicia's company, Naked Sage. She used organic chamomile, rose petals, lavender, spearmint, red raspberry leaf, and stevia leaf. Red raspberry leaf is beneficial to the female reproductive system, which is fabulous for those who are pregnant, or like me and struggling with PCOS.
What it tasted like: 100% a garden party. On the nose you get the rose petals and lavender, triggering memories of those beloved storybooks that had you up all night under My Little Pony bedsheets. The raspberry and chamomile dance together in an effortless waltz, with the stevia adding a slight sweetness that makes this tea taste like a soft, unfrosted cookie.
Where to drink it: Hmmm, a toughie. A garden is the obvious choice, but I would also love this tea when I am homesick for my childhood. I can see it being nourishing on lonely nights (a necessary evil for the romantic) or in your NYC apartment when you need a break from urban America. After all, the cities are positively crawling with the heavy-hearted.
Moral of the story: There are a million little pleasures lurking about this world, we just have to notice them.