Go to the archives

Tea Forté

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Mar 01, 2017
Category: Food and Wine

There are people living in tents in refugee camps and sick people crowding town halls to tell their representatives they will die if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, and here I come, concerned as I am about refugees and the ailing, to tell you about seriously expensive tea.

What can I say? “It’s complicated.” And that although I often need to buy fancy gifts for fancy friends I never heard of Tea Forté until about five minutes ago. And that I’ve learned this is precisely the kind of gift that mothers like to send to their daughters, and daughters to their mothers, and friends to their bridge club besties. And — not a small point — it’s superior tea.

Peter Hewitt, an American product designer with a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, knew exactly what he was doing when he conceived of beautifully packaged products that “elevate a cup of tea into an extraordinary experience for all of your senses.” He came up with a “sculptured pyramid infuser” — in English: tea bag — that’s derived from a Japanese tetrahedral design. But beyond chic packaging that becomes a branding tool, this shape gives loose tea more room to swell in hot water. That extra room allows the company to use whole leaf teas that steep better in larger packages than they do in conventional tea bags. And then there’s that adorable leaf on top of the infuser that hangs over the rim of the tea cup, making removal easier. And, for the hard core, there’s even a tea cup, with a cover that has a hole in the center for the leaf.

So you’re paying for packaging. So Tea Forté makes great gifts. But how does the tea taste?

Mostly: special. Oprah endorsed the tea. The brewing system was one of her Favorite Things. And Tea Forté’s Blueberry Merlot won the 2011 award for best “Flavored Herbal Blends” from the North American Tea Championship.

Choices: Each assortment comes in three sizes. Thus…

To buy the Presentation Box Sampler with 20 infusers from Amazon for $30, click here. To buy the Petite Presentation Box Sampler with 10 infusers for $17, click here. To buy the Tea Chest Tasting Assortment with 40 infusers for $55, click here.

To buy the Herbal Tea Tasting Assortment with 40 infusers for $55, click here. To buy the Herbal Petite Presentation Box with 10 Handcrafted infusers for $17, click here.

To buy the Presentation Box Sampler of Indulgent Dessert Teas with 20 infusers for $30, click here.

To buy the Porcelain Tea Cup with Custom Cover for Steeping — which, inexplicably, comes without a saucer — for $20, click here.

Before you click to buy the Herbal Assortment, you might consider the reader reviews of Blueberry Merlot. They’re mixed. Many find it too tart, requiring honey. Others simply wonder how it won a competition.

At these prices, it’s reasonable to hope that you can get two or three steeps from each bag. (With Pu-erh tea, you get as many as eight.) And that does seem to be the case with black teas: English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Black Currant. Other favorites: White Ginger Pear, Winter Chai, Ginger Lemongrass, Raspberry Ganache, Belgian Mint, “estate” Darjeeling, and China Gunpowder. For those who like “dessert” teas, Hazelnut Truffle has fans.

Come for the presentation, stay for the pleasure.

[A large cup of thanks to KMM]