November 6, 2015

shop of the week: Bellocq Tea Brooklyn

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Bellocq Tea Atelier is located in the industrial neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s a magical world with Venetian plaster walls, pink velvet upholstery, hanging mosses and ferns, all staged in a Rembrandtesque chiaroscuro setting. Behind the hidden storefront, single-estate teas are sold exclusively whole leaf, organic tea and herbal blends, still assembled by hand, and more recently, a collection of expertly-crafted, perfumed candles inspired by the company’s teas.

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The founders of the renowned tea company met while working at a well-known lifestyle brand, Heidi Johannsen Stewart on the publishing side as a food editor and stylist and Michael Shannon as a product designer. “Before Bellocq we were often traveling around the world, buying tea and sharing it with each other,” Michael explains. This delightful habit became ritual and, along with a passionate appreciation of traditional artisan work, ignited the idea for a business. When their third partner, interior craftsman Scott Stewart, discovered the perfect temporary space on Kings Road in London, the trio seized on the opportunity to reveal their first line of handcrafted tea blends. After their yearlong pop-up in London, Bellocq, by then a much-acclaimed if still fledgling company, returned to New York to continue growing its collection. It still operates out of Brooklyn today.

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Bellocq’s carefully selected, single-origin offerings originate from the finest estates in China, Japan, India, Nepal, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Malawi and are exclusively full leaf, almost entirely organic, and sourced from high elevation gardens. “Our selections are the result of rigorous sourcing and lengthy tastings,” says co-founder Heidi. “The unifying factor is exceptional quality and a beautiful flavor profile.”

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True to its mission, Bellocq has expanded its original line of tea blends to include over 50 varieties of pure teas, an assortment of herbal selections, and a growing number of in-house blends. The pure teas range, at their very finest, from fragrant, delicate Anji Bai Cha to the earthy and robust 2007 Bulang Raw, Ancient Tree, a puerh sourced from deep within Yunnan Province. Meanwhile, blends like “Le Hammeau” draw out the winsome, summery warmth of the more familiar lemon verbena, freshly torn mint, chamomile, lavender, and sage.

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Tea has always been about ritual and the sense of well-being that accompanies it, and this luxury is what Bellocq strives to provide. “Not even so much the luxury of the finest goods, though quality is the strongest motivation behind our tea, but the luxury of time and space created in the meditative enjoyment of a cup of tea,” stresses Michael. “We want everyone to find that kind of untroubled comfort.” The personal sanctuaries we devise for ourselves when savoring a warm meal or steeping a Japanese green are the end goals of the company’s vision.

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BELLOCQ Tea Atelier
104 West Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222

(image credits: a.b.c.d.e.f.g.h.i.j.k.l.m.)

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