Kids & Art has a friend in the tea business, and their name is Fabula Tea. Or, if you prefer, Kenny and Yshel. The names will be familiar to patrons who attended the Cirque de la Vie auction this past weekend. The couple came to hand deliver a custom "auction blend" tea and set up shop to give tastings to those who attended the party in the Palo Alto Art Center’s sculpture garden. We were there to auction art and donated items to help fund the 2015-16 season.
Fabula Tea’s founders Kenny and Yshel greeted patrons with broad smiles. The "refreshment" stood out because there it was a very hot day, and yet the tea station was very popular. We really liked their idea for a limited edition custom blend as a thank you gift to those who pledged $100 or more during the auction's Fund-a-Need.
At the event, their popup “action station” where we could watch them make their tea and their spirit of mindfulness very much coordinated with the credo at Kids & Art. We are also built on considering the moment special and celebrating it.
Kenny and Yshel are tea crafters. They have a special something. What is it? It's not a gimmick really, but that's a term some might use. It’s an innovation! And, like much artisanal and slow food makers, Fabula Tea is not so much concerned with trends as they are with preserving traditions or reviving them--for the modern palate, of course.
Here’s how: They placed a work of art from the Kids & Art archives on the labels alongside the art’s provenance story. The day it was made. What kind of day it was. Fabula made the tea we offered to Fund-a-Need patrons with the bright yellow flower (pictured above) in mind, informing the mix of flavors and ingredients.
The tea flavors were meant to tell the story of the artwork, echoing its color scheme and calling on olfactory ‘notes’ to translate the visual into the tasting profile. The packaging and the tasting are part of the “piece," fusing tea and story into a kind of ceremony of enjoyment and appreciation, cultivating a transcendant experience.
“We encourage people to discover the art of living through awakening the senses and experience the beauty in the process,” Kenny, its co-founder said. “We see that our role is to foster an ancient and also very new collaboration between art and tea that leads to the transformation of both.”
The pair are purveyors of not just tea, but also of a refined experience. They call on us to expand the moment, to zoom out and include more than just the sense of taste. Using label art and the tea inside, they encourage one sense experience to be “flavored” by the other.
He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not.
The painting used on the tin is called “He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not.” It was created by Olivia, a teen who participated in a workshop alongside Sanjay Patel, a supervising animator and storyboard artist at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California. Helen Cole Lew was there, too. She serves as the Program Director at Kids & Art, and is a veteran teacher, who now teaches urban farming at The Carey School in San Mateo, California. She writes: "The day was rainy and the yellow brightened the mood and brought the sun inside."
The tea's taste profile also appears on the tin. It says: hint of citrus; delicate fruity notes; pleasant and nourishing. The tea ingredients are: longevity fruit, tangerine peel and lemongrass. The tea's sweetness is provided by the longevity fruit.
Creating sensory metaphors is a practice that I cannot say I had ever engaged in. Or, maybe I have without realizing it, and Fabula just ‘bottled’ it. It is a truly inventive and playful approach to life. This aesthetic-culinary crossover has many possibilities, and we have a lot of art. Maybe Fabula will do it again but this time with a different label and a different set of creative elements to inspire its ingredients. The possibilities for collaboration are endless.
Nowhere does it say: look at the image while you drink the tea, but I think that is the idea. I gave it a try when I came home with a tin as a special token of appreciation. It worked: I’m a convert. They certainly got me to consider an everyday moment as special, which is what we strive to do at Kids & Art, too.
Those patrons who participated at the $100 and above level during the Live Fund-a-Need, we thank you. We look forward to hearing their reviews. As Kenny says they tend to collaborate with those they meet on their journey. If you run into them on yours, we kindly suggest you try some Fabula Tea.