ART, SCIENCE, & OPTIMISM
The vision for Longleaf Tea Co. has always been to both grow our own leaf and process our own tea. We have learned that being the farmer and the maker requires a strange yet beautiful combination of hard work, science, artistic expression…and optimism.
We have become accustomed to using the smell, feel, and appearance of the leaf, both in the field and in the processing facility, to ultimately tell us a story of how the tea will taste. Each harvest is unique, and our goal is to help unlock the individual beauty in the cup that we share with you.
In 1907, Kakuzo Okakuro, author of The Book of Tea, wrote the following words while in Boston (of all places). This is our standard.
“Tea is a work of art… Each preparation of leaves has its individuality, its special affinity with water and heat, its hereditary memories to recall, its own method of telling a story: The truly beautiful must be always in it.”
We have also become used to sore backs, dirty fingernails, and a new sense of optimism. In 2018, after our first planting, every cold snap, heat wave, or downpour resulted in consternation and concern. Over time, the tea plants have proven to be much more resilient than we thought. We have learned to relax and let the weather come and then let it pass. Whether it be green shoots in spring, seeds in summer, or flowers in fall, the tea has taught us to always look forward to something - to farm with optimism.
In the September 15, 1883 issue of Home and Farm, a Mississippi farmer referring to himself as “Plow Boy” wrote a letter to the editor. Plow Boy’s words resonate 139 years later, expressing an optimism in a region still reeling from the aftermath of war.
“It appears the desire of all to make a living at home. Most persons think that our country is approaching a period of prosperity, and are growing hopeful. All are satisfied now that if it comes it will come through their own efforts.”
We now understand that our vision for Longleaf Tea Co. is to unlock the story in every cup, and as much as possible, farm with a hopeful optimism.
As we look over the fields today, the tea plants are exploding with new, bright green growth. The early spring wildflowers add a colorful texture around the geometric green of the tea fields. The tulip poplar shade trees are starting to leaf. First flush harvest is just weeks away. It is a work of art.
With gratitude and optimism,
Thomas and Hillary