Drinking is what brought us together. A dimly-lit bar in Wicker Park is where Aaron met Gina slinging beer and cosmopolitans in Chicago. We soon realized that together we would go to great lengths to find extraordinary flavor.
This passion transformed our travels into tastings and our kitchen into a laboratory. But it wasn’t enough to consume exciting things. We wanted to make them.
We were the first coffee nerds among our friends. We were throwing regular themed dinner and cocktail parties. And we were experimenting with molecular gastronomy at home, studying the playbooks of Ferrán Adria, Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal.
We had lived and traveled in great culinary cities like Chicago, New York, Paris, London and Tokyo and eaten our ways through every avenue and passage. The real shift came when we moved to San Francisco at the dawn of the craft beverage movement.
Living in the birthplace of California Cuisine during an extraordinary time of food innovation inspired us. In fact, it was the makers that inspired us most. It also gave us access to Berkeley Bowl, Tokyo Fish Market, the Cheese Board, Kermit Lynch and K and L Wine, and many secret chef suppliers that fueled our experiments. We were in the middle of the Bay Area culinary storm, neighbors with Blue Bottle and Four Barrel, Bi-Rite, Tartine, and Humphrey Slocombe.
The Ah-ha moment
At the time, tea was simply another stop on our gastronomic adventure. Japanese tea wooed us through its humble preparation and regional nuances. Chinese and Taiwanese teas surprised them with a broad range of flavors from terroir and finishing techniques.
While we appreciated traditional teas, it was a French tea whose creative flavors, luxurious packaging and expert service inspired us to take an entirely different approach to tea. One beyond health, and beyond tradition. We were looking to make tea an experience.
We were not chefs or tea masters, far from it. We were a French professor and product designer. We were outsiders but we believe that’s exactly why we could bring something totally new to tea. We allowed ourselves to dream about a tea brand in the spirit of the innovation and craft that surrounded us.
We wondered, what if we designed tea for ourselves and our friends? What if tea was just about flavor instead of tradition or health? What if tea were as conceptual and thrilling as a cocktail at Death and Co in New York or a dessert at Sadaharu Aoki in Paris?
Making it Real
In 2014, we took out a loan to make August’s first 5 teas that we hoped were unusual enough to intrigue fellow foodies but delicious enough to keep them drinking it every day.
And a few months later, we landed our first restaurant client, Alma. If Bon Appetit’s Best New American Restaurant wanted to serve our tea, we must be doing something right. This was a huge coup for us. It wasn’t just an account, it was encouragement.
So we kept going. Since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with chef Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis of Bestia and Bavel fame, Death and Co, cult ice cream brand Salt & Straw, and michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield at Hearth and Hound.