Can you tell us a bit about the duality going on at DFT? You’ve got a super ancient beverage paired with totally modern design. What is appealing about blending the two?
"Tea is timeless! We got into this because we wanted to share our love of tea with friends and family. We also love great design. When tea was first marketed in the West, the design and presentation was spectacular. Our pals at Aesthetic Apparatus have always impressed us with their design chops. So we knew we wanted them to give us the best-looking tins in the biz. We decided our tea was going to be damn fine, so the tins better be as well. Like great fashion, the tins are a reflection of the tea inside, and vice versa."
When we started the collaboration, were you surprised, challenged, excited, or confounded (or all of them!) about working with a fashion/style website? What was hard/easy about thinking outside of the tea realm?
"We had a great time working with Refinery29. We've worked with other 'non-tea' companies and always enjoy thinking outside the tea tin. The design sensibility of Refinery29's team meshes well with our love of great type, layout, and color. Our challenge was making sure the tea we sourced matched the quality and sensibility of Refinery29's fans."
Why is Black Ceylon good for Refinery29 readers? Was there a runner-up type of tea you were thinking of? Why did you go for Black Ceylon instead?
"Ceylon is a great starter tea for anyone who is new to fine teas, and a go-to for anyone with a regular habit. It's familiar enough — a classic really — and it's easy to taste the difference between this and, say, a mass-market bagged tea. To make a beer analogy, if you've only ever had cheap beer, a craft-brewed lager is a logical step-up, but a dark, bitter ale might be a bit much. Likewise, we hope this Ceylon will be an easy step up for the novice, and maybe open the door to finer teas. It's a gateway tea."
We need you to weigh in and solve some arguments: When should we put milk in our tea?
"Whenever you want, there's no wrong answer. Green teas and oolongs don't usually pair well with milk, mostly because the flavors are too delicate. But some people might prefer it, especially iced. Soy milk in a green bubble tea is pretty great. Most dark, black teas (like the R29 Ceylon) taste great with a milk, especially those teas that are prone to a little bitterness or astringency. In general, the stronger the brew, the more it will take to milk. We find the natural sugars in milk make it preferable to cream."
What is your favorite cup to drink tea out of?
"We have so many mugs. Erik prefers his Charles Eames mug for everyday brewing and his Darth Vader mug for special occasions. Charles is less fancy, preferring either a big earthen mug for dark teas or a boring white mug for greens. The finish matters on the crockery; some glazes can mess up the flavors. We're in the market for some ceremonial tea horns."
You have lot of cheeky references and pop-culture imagery on your tea tins. Can you give us a hint as to what we’ll see next?
"We like to surprise our customers. I can say that our next offering tea will launch on Monday, December 12. It is the perfect balm for many of the troubles we encounter during the holiday season."