About In Pursuit of Tea
Sebastian Beckwith and friends started In Pursuit of Tea in 1999 to explore small farms in Asia and find the finest teas available, some of which seldom leave their country of origin. Each year, we spend time in historic tea-growing regions to taste the season's harvest and select the best. Introducing the West to these traditional teas—and elevating the level of service in the fine dining and hospitality industry for nearly two decades—remains our mission.
The looseleaf teas we source are crafted with great care, most of them still picked and processed by hand, and draw on centuries of tradition. We do not blend lots or add any flavorings, preferring to savor tea's intrinsic qualities. Within its leaves, each tea contains the promise of a new journey, full of wonder and peace.
In the late 1980s, when Sebastian Beckwith was a trekking guide in Bhutan and northern India, he first fell in love with tea. Since founding In Pursuit of Tea, he has returned to remote farms throughout Asia several times a year, tasting and selecting leaves that are served at some of the finest restaurants in the country, including New York City's Eleven Madison Park, Daniel and Gramercy Tavern. He has lectured at Columbia University with integrative health expert Dr. Andrew Weil, and has led educational seminars on tea at The French Culinary Institute, the Institute of Culinary Education, and The American Museum of Natural History.
Tea was always around the home where Ana Dane was raised; a gift of sencha in the late 1990s led her to start exploring the intricacies of looseleaf teas, cup by cup. She has traveled to traditional regions of production in India, China and Taiwan, and believes the most intoxicating scent in the world is of freshly picked Camellia sinensis leaves, slowly oxidizing in the air.
Ryan Major joined In Pursuit of Tea in 2012. A lifetime tea drinker, he enjoys being surrounded by tea leaves of all sorts as he directs operations from our warehouse.
Why Drink Tea?
- Tea is intriguing. It is a simple beverage—just water and leaves—but it contains worlds. Like all things of beauty, it is both plain and complex; even the detailed practice of the Japanese chanoyu tea ceremony is meant simply to lead one fully into the present moment. The deeper into tea we delve, the more interesting it becomes. For us, a cup of tea is at heart a daily ritual, and an elemental pleasure.
- Tea is flexible. When preparing looseleaf tea, you are in control. It doesn't come premixed in a can or bottle; brew it to suit your taste and mood. Enjoy it plain, or add milk, honey, sugar, lemon, herbs, spices or ice. When sipped alone, tea slows one's day and invites contemplation. Sipping with friends, a pot of tea encourages camaraderie and the comforts of shared experience. There is a tea appropriate for every time, every situation and every circumstance.
- Tea is accessible. Even rare teas that cost $300 a pound are only pennies per serving. For less than the price of a can of soda, tea offers all the complexities of a fine wine. Each of our teas is the product of a singular culture, rich in tradition, and each cup offers an affordable adventure.
- Tea is good for you. Throughout its history, tea has been associated with significant health benefits. Now, numerous studies point to evidence that these healing properties may have a scientific basis. Besides antioxidants, tea contains vitamins, minerals, and two notable chemicals: caffeine and theanine. These give tea its unique combination of both stimulating and calming effects.
Why Drink In Pursuit of Tea?
- Our focus is on looseleaf teas with exceptional natural flavors and aromas. We seek out these true teas and secure them before they can be blended with inferior quality lots or other flavorings and ingredients. The tea farmers who supply us draw from generations of tradition to produce teas with integrity.
- The alternative to traditional looseleaf tea is a product that is pesticide sprayed, mechanically harvested and processed, and blended for consistency: commercial teas of low quality. They hold little interest for the palate. Tea's rich cultural history and unique geography are lost; all mystery evaporates with them.
- We do not rest in our pursuit of great tea. Looseleaf teas, by nature, are inconsistent—they are an agricultural product. This is something we celebrate. Weather and other variations in picking and processing create new, unique teas each season. Each pot, each steeping of our tea is then its own experience, full of life.
- An ancient beverage, tea has been drunk for pleasure and health for thousands of years. Even before it is brewed, a tea leaf is steeped in legend, history, geography and politics. Because our teas are not blended, they maintain their inherent diversity and complexity. Savor them, and the moment of enjoyment they provide.