BELLOCQ, the award-winning tea company and purveyor of evocative artisan blends, has relocated their 'tea atelier' to Greenpoint, New York following the success of their Kings Road, London shop, Bellocq Tea Atelier. The business, which offers a unique and evocative line of handcrafted blends, with seductive names such as ‘Kikuya’, ‘Le Hammeau’ and ‘Noble Savage’, also curates an inspiring selection of the organic full leaf teas. Bellocq is refining the luxury tea business to suit the evolving and sophisticated taste of the modern client.
THE STORY of Bellocq is one of passion and discovery. Bellocq’s founders, Heidi Johannsen Stewart, Michael Shannon and Scott Stewart joined creative forces with a desire to collaborate on a shared aesthetic vision that captures their appreciation of traditional artisan work and a love of fine tea.
Bellocq's award-winning handcrafted blends unite the finest traditional teas with a modern, adventurous spirit. “Tea is an affordable, everyday luxury,” says Heidi, a former Martha Stewart Living editor, stylist and columnist, who’s work regularly graces the pages of various fine publications including ‘Food and Wine’ magazine, ‘O’ the Oprah magazine, and the ‘New York Times’, “Bellocq’s sophisticated approach to flavor and fragrance is tailored to an educated, stylish, and sophisticated customer. Our teas suit the needs and desires of the modern well traveled client. We use all of our resources to create extraordinary teas and cultivate genuine relationships with our clients.”
Michael Shannon honed his skills in the world of product design for notable companies such as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where he contributed to the beloved catalogue Martha-by-Mail. He further culled his craft with cult-favorite clothing/housewares company, Anthropologie. In his words, “A fascination with early techniques has fueled a desire to continue my education in many forms of artistry including blacksmithing, tailoring, glassblowing and carpentry.” An avid collector of antiques and an admirer of early craftsmanship, Michael is well versed in the world of decorative arts. In regard to the world of tea: “The craftsmanship of tea is an art-form in itself. The growing, handling and firing of the leaves requires great skill and sensitivity, I continue to be amazed and humbled.”
Also hailing from a high-profile creative foundation is Scott Stewart, co-owner and founder of well-regarded fabrication firm, SAAW, inc. (clients include: Anthropologie, BHLDN and Barney’s New York). He is also a founder of Jolie Laide contemporary art gallery in Philadelphia and is on the board of directors for the pioneering eco-clothing label Stewart+Brown. Scott states, “There is always a choice to be made and we have committed ourselves to working with responsible gardens and merchants and to search for the finest and highest quality teas. Bellocq is also committed to preserving traditional craft techniques and the communities in which they thrive, our relationships are not just about the best products, but also about the right process."
As a result of their commitment to quality products and traditional craft, they travel, often with children in tow, to far flung locations in search of traditional techniques to integrate into Bellocq’s modern expression. Michael adds with a laugh, “Picture us, traveling through deepest Central Mexico, packed to the rafters in our little rental car, indigenous textiles tucked into every available nook and cranny, our bumper nearly dragging along the highway while the rear window is obscured of vision because of the 20 pounds of tuberoses we didn’t have the heart to leave behind. But there we are, loving every minute of it and feeling so inspired by the wonderful people we’ve met along the way. We’ve been fortunate to be part of an exceptional creative community and wish to share our knowledge and inspiration with each and every customer.”
Bellocq's Greenpoint ‘tea atelier’ is a tasting and design studio, a place to inspire and realize new and ever-evolving ideas. In this spirit, new product will be arriving regularly, including sumptuous shearling tea cozies. Michael shares, “Tea cozies are an extremely useful component to the teapot but are often dowdy. We wanted to make them fashionable, even humorous. We fondly refer to them as ‘wigs’.” They’ll also offer tea “cupping” services on site, giving clients an opportunity to learn more about the product through a full-sensory experience. Small-batch tea blends will continue to evolve, reflecting the seasons and Bellocq will be offering bespoke blending opportunities as well. Heidi concludes with “Scent and flavor not only bring back forgotten emotions and memories, but envelopes one in the present and influences mood. It’s a powerful conduit. I read that tea is, essentially, a journey of water and I feel that’s a wonderfully poetic sentiment and here I am, first in London, now in New York on a great journey thanks to tea. I can’t think of a lovelier place to be.”
All Bellocq blends are now lovingly crafted in their New York atelier.
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