Thursday, July 1, 2010

Of Palate & Paris - Talking Kusmi Tea

Speaking ill of French customs and culture appears to be a growing American trend. My voice refuses to assent; rather I object. Close acquaintances probably expect nothing less based on my French fries alliance, i.e. les pommes frites. It is true that I frequently entertain butter, cream and sugar as honored culinary guests within my home. They are also among my strongest motivators for regular daily exercise. Pilates anyone?

Details Create Experiences

So even though the premise above has some merit, I find that there is something utterly fascinating in how serious the French generally are about details. It is an art. This close attention-to-detail elevates an event from an ordinary task to an experience. All five senses -- sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste -- receive careful consideration whether it involves designing a garment, cooking a meal, or preparing a tea.

Follow the Nose

I firmly hold this view about tea selection: if the tea does not speak to the nose, then it will not speak to the palate. A tea's aroma either invites or repels further interaction. As a result, I do not purchase tea from places where inspecting the tea, e.g. seeing and smelling it, is discouraged. Let's open the tea tin and allow the senses to participate.

Cerebral Connections

From studying neuroscience we understand the nose's olfactory nerves are located closest to the deep limbic system, the brain's memory and emotional center. Since the palate physically separates the space between the nasal and oral cavities, the associated nerves work closely together to send the brain signals. Otolaryngologists, also known as ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, specialize in this medical area. In other words, tea combines art and science.

Parisian Tea Passion - Kusmi Tea

Thanks to a fellow tea aficionado, I received an opportunity to discuss my tea selection theory with Kusmi Tea CEO Sylvain Orebi (@SylvainOrebi, @KusmiTeaUS). Not only did he agree that the nose is crucial for tea discernment, but he also generously shared a bit of Kusmi Tea's tea blending approach. "It all starts in the mind," Orebi said. Curiosity piqued, I asked what thoughts inspired the Kusmi Sweet Love blend. His answer? Instead of sharing our conversation verbatim, I'll let the tea speak for itself.

Kusmi Tea opens its first US store today in Manhattan (1037 Third Avenue at 61st Street). We Americans are now able to enjoy tea like Rose Green Tea (pictured above) firsthand. Welcome Kusmi Tea!

(For those who wonder, no tea company employs me nor pays me for postings. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and not medical advice. May inquiring minds drink their tea in peace.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. I'm planning on heading over there this weekend. I've had the tea before as part of a promotion I received, but haven't had an opportunity to drink it all in (so to speak).

    Rick Tannenbaum
    Pot Luck Tea Company

  2. I am longing for several pots of excellent tea, good conversation, and pehaps much intense planning for future tea happenings in "the hood."

    Wonderful article and writing Verna!

    Mary Lindow
    Denver, CO

  3. I too love French things; design, antiques, food. I live in an area that is over run with Tuscan design...blech! I love roses and scrolls in my home and I love Kusmi Tea's Bouquet of Flowers No. 108. Hope you have a wonderful tea week.