The 8 Ball: Emily Erb
LEAVES AND FLOWERS: Emily Erb and Anna Morton are the two women behind California-based tea company, Leaves and Flowers. Handcrafted botanical infusions like Leaves of Grass (an infusion of lemon verbena, peppermint, and tarragon) are offered alongside teas like Assam Chai and Genmaicha. Today Emily walks us through her process of creating blends as well as sourcing from farms in the US and abroad.
Can you please describe Leaves and Flowers and what you do there?
Leaves and Flowers is a California-based tea company offering a unique selection of handcrafted botanical infusions and premium small-batch teas. We focus on sourcing the highest quality ingredients and our blends honor the beauty and incredible flavor of plants.
Being a small business owner I still wear many hats at the company. On any given day I might meet with one of our wholesale partners to taste new teas, develop a new blend, or spend the day at our production warehouse helping process orders.
Tell us about sourcing locally as well as abroad. We followed along with your most recent trip to Japan on Instagram and it looked amazing.
When we started the company we only sourced our herbs from farms in Northern California. A couple of years ago we had a few farms in other states contact us with interest in working together. These farms were not only growing beautiful herbs, they were also drying and milling them on their land. The quality of the herbs they grow is exceptional and we decided to broaden our sourcing to include these producers.
Sourcing tea was more difficult in the beginning because neither myself nor my partner Anna had any experience in the tea industry. We were very lucky to know a couple people we trusted who sourced tea directly from China and Japan. They guided us through the process of finding farms to work with and over the years we have been able to source incredible teas, even without visiting the farms directly.
Our trip to Japan last spring was our first sourcing trip and it exceeded my expectations. We were fortunate to find a few new amazing farms that produce incredible tea. Two farms were women-owned and operated, just like our company. That felt very special and was immensely inspiring.
Do you view tea drinking as a ritual or practice? I know for many, including myself, there is something special about the preparation and taking a moment to enjoy it.
I make a lot of tea throughout the day and I really enjoy the snippets of time when I can just pause everything else that is going on while preparing a cup for myself. One of my favorite things is making and drinking tea with others. I find it invites people to be present and observant in a way that we don’t give enough priority to anymore.
When creating a blend, what are you taking into consideration?
When creating a new blend I always think about flavor first. Our blends are fairly simple and we usually have a dominant flavor that we start with, then play with a few different combinations of ingredients. It is very similar to cooking, you are just layering flavors until you have a balanced flavor profile.
Can you talk to us about the medicinal properties of some of the ingredients in your blends?
We started releasing more medicinal blends a couple years after we started the company. We wanted these blends to taste delicious and support the body in a more health focused way. A good example is our Digestive Seed Tea. It is inspired by the ethos of Ayurveda, which considers the digestive system the root of all health. It is a blend of roots and seeds that assists the body’s digestive function. It was formulated to be safe to consume as much as desired (it is delicious!), while still be potent enough to have an effect on the body.
Your favorite tea at the moment and how you are enjoying it?
We recently released a new black tea called Qi Lan from Yunnan Province, China that I have been enjoying every morning. It is quite sweet on its own, so I drink it black.
How did Leaves and Flowers begin?
I was friends with Anna prior to starting the company. We were both at a point in our careers where we felt ready to create something that was uniquely our own in our work. We are both drawn to nature, beauty, and supporting our bodies through food and plants. This alignment was channeled into the creation of our tea blends and our overall ethos of the company.
We love Leaves and Flowers look. Who or what is keeping you visually inspired these days?
Nature provides endless inspiration. Art, music, and dance have always been a huge part of my life and it is a priority to make space for this. Travel and talking to strangers keeps me engaged and in love with life.