There is something about the art of craftsmanship - an elusive je ne sais quoi or mysterious familiarity - that seems almost a memory of things we once wanted, but had somehow forgotten. In the face of this exceptional attention to detail, we are mesmerized, lured in by the sense of purpose in each word, scent, symbol or flavor. Occasionally, a small company offers us the opportunity to own a modern memento of this dying culture of cultivated skill and taste. Such is the case with Bellocq Tea Atelier.
I first discovered Bellocq on a chilly Sunday at the New Amsterdam Market. As a frequent NAMarketer, the new arrival or return of season-sensitive purveyors is always an exciting occasion, so I eagerly wandered over to check out their wares.
The first thing that struck me was the gorgeous design of the Bellocq tea canisters and paper packets - not to mention the "accessible luxury" vibe of the whole set-up (artfully crafted by former Martha Stewart Living stylist - and Bellocq co-owner - Heidi Johannsen Stewart).
As if this visual enticement weren't enough, the very knowledgeable "tea sommelier" (a name I gave him, but he humbly dismissed), Ravi Kroesen, graciously and enthusiastically answered my varied tea questions (tea blends vs. single estate teas, boiling temperature of water, etc.) - all while serving me the most delicious Afghani Chai. Needless to say, I was hooked.
The happiest news of all is that Bellocq, (already available at the Bellocq tasting room in Greenpoint, at the New Amsterdam Market, and a number of other specialty stores) will soon be available at the very convenient Haven's Kitchen, opening winter 2011 near Union Square. In the meantime, I will be actively dwindling down my already over-sized tea collection, in anticipation of (much) better teas to come.