July 11, 2014

A Back-To-School Tradition

Kindercone Long ago, German parents told their children they would know it was time to go to school when the fruit was ripe on the Schultütenbaum (school cone tree). The “fruit” was actually  bright paper cones called schultüte (“shool-too-teh”) that parents filled with sweet treats and hung on a metal tree at their child’s school.

More than 200 years later, this fun back-to-school tradition is still going strong. Today’s schultüte (or KinderCone) can be as big as 35 inches tall and contain practical school supplies as well as treats. In honor of this long-standing back-to-school tradition, local Tea retailers are hosting a KinderCone event you won’t want to miss.

For four days beginning Friday, August 8th, we’re asking you to give back to your local community. Donate unused school supplies to participating retailers (think of it as filling up a giant schultüte for someone’s school) and you’ll receive an exclusive Tea offer.

Check back soon for a list of participating stores near you!

June 30, 2014

A Beautiful Game for So Many Reasons

We’ve had many conversations surrounding other cultures these last few weeks.  We are pulling out maps, talking about language, sharing history and stories. The World Cup is making the world super real for my boys.

We are lucky to live in the Bay Area, where children are sporting jerseys from many corners of the world.  We’re presented with the opportunity to discuss why Sean is rooting for Manchester United and why Marc loves Mexico.  We see connections between our neighbors to the world at large.

My kids have picked Argentina as their favorite team. No personal connection.  Just my eight year old’s love for Lionel Messi and my five year old’s love for his older brother.

I think this might be just the excuse I needed to start planning a trip to Argentina…

Leigh Rawdon is Tea’s CEO and co-founder.

June 26, 2014

Moroccan Gallery Wall

When we moved into our house 4 years ago, there was a cozy, sun-filled room adjacent to the kitchen that I felt would be a great mini-play space. I envisioned the kids creating artwork in this space and proudly displaying their creations on a large wall inside the room – it would be their very own art gallery! We covered the wall with magnetic paint and then added a few layers of chalkboard paint. (The kids still don’t know that the wall is actually one large chalkboard… too messy and dusty near the kitchen!) At first, we tried to mount the kids’ paintings with magnets, but they didn’t stick well (most likely because we have chalkboard paint over it), so the artwork is now mounted with colorful tape.

This past year, my son’s teacher encouraged all of the parents to make a large portfolio of each child’s work. The idea of Clement having all of his school mementos in one place seemed perfect. This portfolio or “scrapbook” idea will become a tradition; I’m inspired to create one each year. While original pieces do adorn our refrigerator, most are quickly mounted in the year’s scrapbook, leaving our gallery wall pretty blank these days. With our recent Art.com partnership, I thought this wall could be the perfect spot to feature photos from our trip to Morocco and the prints we created for the Spring 2014 Collection.

The Morocco trip was a fantastic one for me. I had traveled there once before for the wedding of dear friends almost 10 years ago. This inspiration trip was a particularly special one because I got to see, visit and connect with these same dear friends and discover parts of Morocco I had never seen before. We were shown unexpected modern art in Marrakech, which completely informed our collection. Everything seemed so fresh compared to the country I had experienced almost a decade earlier.

These are a couple photos from our visit to Chefchaouen. We were captivated by “the Blue City of Morocco” and the pigment vendors sold off the alleyways. Chefchaouen These prints and graphics are from some of my favorite pieces in the Morocco Collection. The color palette really plays off the printed Kantha quilt pillows that lay on the daybed in the playroom. Mosaic Tile Graphic The Riad Mira Pink graphic was inspired by the traditional Moroccan star, lined up in a dynamic way for a dynamic mosaic tile graphic dress. Confetti Print The Confetti Tile print was inspired by the most modern tile work we saw at Dar el Sadaka, home of French artist Jean-Francois Fourtou. Casablanca Desert Rose The Casablanca Graphic and Desert Garden print are original paintings by our in-house design team – evoking the night sky and magnificent garden we saw at the Majorelle Garden Estate. Butterflies The Butterfly Collage was inspired by the pop art of Hassan Hajjaj, the Andy Warhol of Morocco.

For our playroom wall, I really wanted to create a mix of print, pattern and texture – just like my design philosophy for Tea. For artwork, this translates to a composition of graphics and photos, as well as adding dimension to the presentation – incorporating different framing options: wrapped canvas, printed glossy photos and a 3D element to add more interest. Emily Meyer I did some research on gallery wall design and collected inspiration on Pinterest, as well as the old-fashioned way with magazine tearsheets and design books. I saw the gaffer’s tape idea in the most recently book by Remodelista (one of my favorite sources for interior design inspiration!) Finally, for the 3D element, I found these beautiful paper pinwheels made from colorful maps on Etsy. I love perusing Etsy for DIY decor ideas and these were the perfect complement to the gallery wall. They are printed with maps on only one side and when I first hung them, they naturally began to spin. So, I had the idea to tape 2 pinwheels together with non-map sides facing in. Now they are free to spin! Map Fans Clement & Georgia love the new wall! We have looked up Morocco on the map and know some of the graphics from the clothing items in their closet and drawers. One of Clement’s favorite t-shirts this summer is the “fish tee” aka Tranquil Pond graphic – now that favorite graphic is hanging over his bed! Some of the images on the new gallery wall are not Tea images, but images I found on Art.com that reminded me of our trip! The image of the Beach Boats reminded me of Essaouira. And, we visited the mosque of Casablanca where the Tile Detail photo was taken, the colors of those tiles are unforgettable. As we’re saying goodbye to the Morocco Collection, I’d love to hear if you have any favorite prints or graphics from Morocco? And, please check out our Tea Art Gallery for exclusive Tea prints and graphics to adorn your home with.

June 25, 2014

Cat Club


Tiger Mask Tee

Tiger Mask

Destination: Japan
Fall/Winter 2009

Tiger Mask is a Japanese manga (comic) series written by Ikki Kajiwara and illustrated by Naoki Tsuji. First released in print in 1968, Tiger Mask was later adapted into an anime series in 1969. After 105 episodes, the series ended in 1971. In both the manga and anime, Tiger Mask was a feared wrestler in America who was ruthless in the ring. However, he became a face (“good guy”) after returning to Japan when a young boy told him he wanted to be a villain like Tiger Mask when he grew up. The little boy lived in an orphanage… the same one that Tiger Mask grew up in during his childhood. Frightened that the boy would idolize a villain, Tiger was inspired to be a heroic wrestler.

Korean Tiger

Siberian Tigers

Destination: Korea
Spring/Summer 2010

In Korean culture, the tiger is considered to be a guardian that drives away evil spirit and brings good luck. The tiger is the symbol of courage and power. Korea’s national creation myth tells of a tiger and a bear who asked the son of the ruler of Heaven if he would make them human. He agreed, but only if they could endure 100 days in a cave eating nothing but garlic and mugwort. Determined, the bear made it through the hundred days and became a beautiful woman, who gave birth to Tangun, the legendary father of Korea in 2333 BCE. The tiger, however, grew very hungry and impatient. He left the cave unable to cope with the hunger and has been slinking through the Korean mountains ever since.

Sadly, hunting and habitat loss pushed the Korean tiger over the brink of extinction in the wild in South Korea and with it, went an important symbol of Korea’s identity. Today, the Korean tiger is known as the Siberian or Amur tiger and current estimates place the wild population at up to only 529 individuals, virtually all living between the far eastern Russian regions of Khabarovsk and Primorsky, which border China and North Korea. Did you know these tigers can weigh up to 675 pounds?


Destination: Catalonia
Spring/Summer 2011

For decades, Barcelona has been a canvas for street artists. Showing up in all forms (graffiti, stickers, stencil, etc.) the street art in Barcelona is alive and thriving. We came across this tiger stenciled art during our trip and thought an abstract mosaic version would be perfect for a graphic tee. Want to see more of Barcelona’s street art? Check out this Pinterest page. During your next trip to Barcelona, be sure to book a street art tour – not only will you see hidden art in unexpected places, it’s almost guaranteed you’re guide will share local dining tips along the way!


South African Cheetah

Destination: South Africa
Spring/Summer 2013

Did you know that cheetah’s can run as fast as 75 mph in short bursts? That’s faster than any other land animal! Although cheetahs do not roar, they rank among the most vocal felids. They’re known to chirp when looking for their cubs, churr or stutter during social meetings, growl when annoyed or faced with danger and purr when content. Listen to a chirping cheetah here!

Chinese Tiger

China Tiger

Destination: China
Fall/Winter: 2013

The South China Tiger is native to Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan and Jiangxi in southern China and has been classified as critically endangered since 1996 and possibly extinct in the wild. No records of wild South China tigers have been made since the early 1970s. Throughout Chinese history, the tiger has sparked awe and admiration. The tiger is full of life an embodies the spirit and drive to achieve and make progress.


photo credits: tiger mask left, tiger mask right, siberian tigers, cheetahs, south china tiger

June 24, 2014

Made In Morocco


Moroccan style. It’s warm and welcoming. It’s often hand made and always timeless. With the increased popularity of Moroccan style here in the United States, it’s important to remember that while the modernized versions are beautiful, it’s the hand loomed blankets and intricate embroidery that started it all. The fusion of Arab, Spanish, French art deco and Berber style sets Moroccan style apart from the rest.

Moroccan Tiles

The time these artisans take to chip each tile, paint a piece of pottery and hand stitch woven totes makes the authentic pieces so wonderfully unique and original.

Art Naji

Did you know boucherouite rugs are woven in asymmetrical patterns? They’re incredibly beautiful and lush in design. Made with rags or pieces of clothing, no two rugs are ever the same. Again, this hand woven process is what makes these items so special.

Moroccan Rug

We’ve rounded up ten products that are made in Morocco and available for purchase from the comfort of your home… of course, if you’re able to make the trip… there’s no better way to experience true authentic Moroccan style!


(from left to right, starting at the top) Pom Pom Blanket // Stuffed Elephant // Book // Shoes
Boucherouite Rug // Leather Pouf // Tiles // Tunic // Handbag // Baby Moccasins

June 23, 2014

Travel Tips + Win Clean Laundry For A Year!

Leigh in Asia I fell in love with my husband in Australia. Since then, we have traveled together through Bali, Thailand, New Zealand, Peru, Italy, England, Germany, Mexico and Costa Rica… And we’re just getting started! As soon as our boys turned 5 and 7, we knew it was time to hit the road again, this time with the boys in tow. We packed our bags and traveled (as a family of 4!) to China and Thailand for an incredible journey. Traveling internationally with children for the first time comes with a bit of anxiety. How will they handle the 13 hour flight? The jet lag? The food? Rest assured, it will all work out one way or another! Here are a few things I learned after 15 days abroad with my family of four.

Booking Flights: Tactical Advice Request kids meals if you think your kids will (like mine) just eat the rolls and ice cream from the regular airline meals. Use seatguru.com to figure out the best seats for your family. Legroom and easy access to the bathroom matter with kids. We also enjoyed flights when we had a row to ourselves. This really helps the kids giving them room to drape their bodies over our legs and lean on shoulders – allowing a little more room for sleeping. Think hard about the time you want to arrive. I had heard advice suggesting to land in the day time so the sunlight helps adjust your circadian rhythms, but I am a big believer in landing late at night. I believe in pushing through with movies and iPads so that by the time you arrive, you will be tired enough to sleep through the night. Be sure to sleep with the hotel curtains open – having the sun shine in bright and early will help everyone wake up.

Pick Your Pockets When you’re one of two responsible adults traveling with your family of four, you end up with a lot of stuff. Hand sanitizer, passports, customs forms, Tic Tacs, loveys, cameras, snacks… the list goes on. Save yourself the time (and stress!) by designating each item to a particular pocket. Then, adhere to this plan religiously! I speak from the experience of searching pocket after pocket for passports. That can really get your heart rate up!

Pack Strategically + Clean Socks Depending on your itinerary, you could end up with a lot of packing and unpacking. Sometimes it was easier to keep the clothing in the suitcase, especially if we had just one night in a hotel. Decide in advance where each person will keep their clean clothes, their toiletries, and their shoes. This will save a lot of time looping in pockets and ruffling through nice stacks of packed clothes looking for the “good” sunscreen or their favorite pair of sneakers. I never knew how much I would appreciate clean socks until we went on this trip! It is unreasonable to pack 20 pairs of socks per child and it is too expensive to pay the hotel to wash socks every few days. Vaska detergents saved us. I washed a lot of socks (and other clothing) in the bathtub and hung them up to dry. The key to success isn’t just good detergent though, it is planning enough time for items to dry – especially in humid climates!

Weather Isn’t Predictable Figure out how to pack as little as possible without compromising style or functionality. To me, this was an advanced puzzle. I had a great pair of chambray pants that worked well in both warm and cold climates. I had lightweight cardigans for layering and easy  jewelry to dress up my everyday tees. I learned quickly that an umbrella was just as helpful in Bangkok’s hot sun as it was in a Hong Kong rain shower. And while packing 4 umbrella’s might sound like overkill; having an umbrella for each family member is much easier than trying to shuffle around with children under one.

Go With The Flow There is something beautiful that happens when we travel. We are almost [un]necessarily present at every step along the way. Figuring out the plan for the day, which train to take, what this museum is about. We didn’t have data plans on our phones, so no urgent emails to manage. There is no DVR full of Mad Men waiting to be watched. As a result, the whole family can be together. Connected and completely present. We followed the same (uncalculated) schedule each day. We would tuck our kids into bed when they were tired, without a rigid bedtime. My husband and I would read a book, enjoy a beer from the mini-bar, reflect on the day – and then crawl into bed ourselves just an hour or two later. Perhaps the most important souvenir of all was the bond we experienced as we explored a foreign place with our family. What Leigh Rawdon Packs 1 Chambray Pants // 2 Cleansing Wipes // 3 Night Cream // 4 Necklaces // 5 Tunics 6 Colorful Sneakers // 7 Vaska Detergent // 8 Purse with Pockets a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 lucky winners will be chosen!

June 19, 2014

Passport to Nest Children’s Boutique

Nest Boutique Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Caroline, owner of Nest Children’s Boutique. In the Denver area? Stop by and say hello at one of her locations near Cherry Creek North or Larimer Square!

Have you always lived in Denver?  I have lived all over the place (I am the Tea poster child!) I grew up in Evanston, IL, studied abroad in Germany and Vietnam and have lived in Philadelphia, New York, Boston and London.  I left New York and moved to Denver with my family after I had my first to child and this is where we have been ever since.

How was your business born? When I had my first child and was living in New York working on Wall Street, I literally spent hours searching for a very specific Liberty of London print shirt for my daughter, Agnes. I realized that I had a latent passion. When our family moved to Denver, it became very clear how important it was for me to do something each and every day that I loved. I love this industry and the people I have met as a result of my involvement in it. I love the relationships I have developed with customers and other small business owners in the community.

Tell us a little about your family. My parents both worked when I was young and when they had time off, they used those beloved frequent flier miles to show us the whole wide world. Every year, we took a trip to a foreign country.  I love to travel and I love a new adventure. I even took my daughter to Laos and Thailand when she was 9 months old! I went to China when I was 7 which was very formative for me. I think that’s why I love Tea Collection so much – my personal values are very much in line with theirs as a company. Like me, they “go there”!

Where is the last place you traveled? My last vacation was a trip to the Holiday Inn on Colorado Blvd for one night. I slept for 14 hours straight – no kids in my bed. Best ever. No, I kid. Our family went to Punta Mita in Mexico for Spring Break this year. It was fabulous. Not only did we sun, swim and eat large amounts of guacamole, but we got to experience a different culture as well.

Your best friend is visiting your city for the first time and only has 24 hours to explore—what would you tell them to do?  First, you will head to Snooze for a delicious breakfast (breakfast tacos and gourmet pancakes the kids will adore). Then, stop at Aviano’s Coffee in Cherry Creek for a morning-cap (Mom must have lots of coffee). Then, spend the morning at the Denver Botanic Gardens (bring some breakfast leftovers to feed the goldfish). Then head down to the historic Larimer Square in downtown Denver for a little shopping and a late lunch at Tom’s Urban 24. After that, head up to Red Rocks for a look at the fabulous amphitheater and a hike on its wonderful trails. You might see a deer! Then head down for dinner. I love Steuben’s, Ace, ChoLon and the Kitchen Next Door. Each one has a great menu for kids that goes beyond the usual suspects. And, drink lots of water. We are a mile high!

What advice do you have for local mothers? Denver and Boulder have so much to offer for families and for mothers in particular.  One of the best things about these cities is that they have much of what large metropolitan cities have to offer along with incredible access to some of the most beautiful natural settings in the world!  Denver is growing so quickly and is full of people from all over the place who are looking to meet new people – it is such a friendly city. Mom’s groups like Stapleton Moms and Mod Moms are great resources for all kinds of “mom” things. Check out our blog: Nest Moms know for other great tips for kid friendly restaurants, pediatricians etc.

What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique? We are doing different events and fun promotions in our store all the time. Every Tuesday, we do a Facebook Giveaway of Tea Collection products. Just “like” our question or, preferably, answer it and you become eligible to win a free piece of Tea! We also do surprise giveaways on Instagram. We are so excited about a contest we will be running this August where an entire kindergarten class can win a free Tea Collection item.

What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you?  I was born in the backseat of a Volkswagen and have been on the go ever since!

June 5, 2014

May’s Activity Book Winner

Activity Book Winner

Take a picture of your child’s completed Tea Collection activity book picture and send it to us at blog@teacollection.com with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line.  We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate.

Download a few of our activity book pages by visiting our Inspiration page.

May 28, 2014

mypootle’s Best Boutique Family Hotels

“mypootle helps travelers discover destinations with soul” and because of this, we thought they would be the perfect partner for our Let’s Go To Morocco Sweepstakes! You read right… we’re giving away a Moroccan adventure to one lucky family. We went there. Now you can, too! This sweepstakes will kick off on Monday June, 2nd and we can’t wait to share all of the details, but until then, mypootle is sharing their top hotel picks for family travel. From African safari’s to Normandy Chateau’s, mypootle has you covered!


Toddlers, tweens or teens, travelling as a family poses some quite interesting challenges. Ever since the mypootle HQ increased its headcount with a pint-sized pootler, trips away have become really rather complicated; once dreamed of havens of stylish tranquility we realize are actually adult only retreats with their doors and swimming pools firmly shut to anyone under the age of 14, although the suite may be roomy with a claw-foot bath, we now seek inter-connecting rooms so that we don’t tiptoe around our slumbering mini-explorer in the dark. Whilst the restaurant may come with all sorts of stars, it’s important that we have a kiddy meal available at 6pm. From baby-sitting to self-catering apartments, playrooms to early dinners, here are our pick of the best places for families; places that will ensure that you’ll all have an enjoyable holiday.

Long haul flights can look a little daunting if you have an active, energetic toddler in tow, but if you are coming from England’s winter then we suggest South Africa. With its sunny climate, dramatic scenery and unbeatable wildlife is top of our list. More Quarters, Cape Town is the perfect city-escape for families with kids of all ages. Super stylish and spacious apartments, the 1-bedroom spaces can sleep 3, the 2-bedrooms sleep 4-5 and there’s even a house for 8! Apartments come with a fully fitted kitchenette, so head to Neighbourhoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill to stock up on artisanal goodies including organic veggies, cheese, wine, olive oil, pesto and chocolate. Kid plus: See penguins at Boulder’s Beach.

No trip to South Africa would be complete without a safari and Madikwe Safari Lodge is a fantastically kid friendly lodge in the malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve. There are two family suites and a mind-boggling number of activities to keep the little ones busy, from family safari drives and Bug CSI to making molds of tracks, painting and drawing.  If your little one wants to squelch around, then they can help the ranger wash the safari vehicle whilst there are also chances to try out their culinary prowess with pizza making in the boma.  Kid plus: The Ecohouse will keep them out of mischief in case of bad weather.

Pack the bags and family and retreat to Monte da Vilarinha in Portugal, a hilltop refuge in the southwestern corner of the Algarve, just a stone’s throw from the unforgettable beaches of Costa Vincentia. With a mix of apartments and studios, most with their own kitchen (a few share kitchens) or kitchenette, there is a family friendly spirit at Vilarinha and children (from babes to teens) are welcome. There is no shortage of things to do! Little adventurers can swing, slide and climb in the adventure playground, there are mountain bikes to ride, a lovely pool, over 30 hectares of valley to explore and beautiful beaches close by. Kid plus: For toddlers, there is a playroom with many toys! Casa Howard If you fancy European city hopping, then let us suggest a few seriously stylish children friendly boltholes. In Florence, stay at Casa Howard, an eclectic B&B just moments from the city’s beating Renaissance heart and book the Play Room with its connected sitting room and free-climbing wall. Kid plus: There is a Walt Disney library to pick and choose from, perfect for tired little pootlers at the end of the day. Ackselhaus In hip Berlin, Ackselhaus & Blue Room offers a great way to experience the city as a family. Some rooms and apartments sleep 4 and many come with their own kitchenette. It’s leafy and secluded, located close to cafes, parks and sights and breakfast is served until midday, so no need to rush in the morning. Kid plus: iPads to rent – pre-loaded with films, music and books!

Safari in Kenya’s Northern Frontier at Sabuk Lodge. Set slightly apart from the main lodge, the Eagle Cottages come with 2 en-suite bungalows (one king and one triple), a sitting room, plunge pool and a dedicated team to look after you. The lodge itself is still a family home and inside is comfortably, elegant and rustically stylish, there are sofas with colourful cushions to throw yourself onto, woven rugs and through it all runs gnarled wood, stone boulders and makuti thatch. There is no minimum age, a baby listening service and early meals for those with early bed times are available. Kid plus: Camel trekking! Chateau de Saint Paterne Live like an aristocrat and take the family to a French chateau in green gastronomic Normandy. Chateau de Saint Paterne is brilliantly child friendly; some rooms come with a little side room with both single and bunk beds while baby monitors can be provided. The gardens are home to a gorgeous pool, trampoline, badminton, croquet, Ping-Pong and plenty of run-around let-off-steam space. With the delights of Normandy to explore, its idyllic villages, beaches and rolling hills, a short stay here may not be long enough… Parent plus: A little port decanter sits in the bedroom. Dar Les CigognesDar Les Cigognes is a supremely stylish boutique hotel in Marrakech. The riad, which takes its name (“house of storks”) from the long legged birds that circle their nests on the palace ramparts just across the street, is a former wealthy spice merchant’s house which has been extensively redesigned by the architect Charles Boccara transforming it into a luxurious and stylish Moorish retreat. This hotel has large central courtyards complete with fountains, citrus and palm trees, numerous little salons and staircases and is one of the few riads to offer inter-connecting rooms. Irresistibly calming, Dar Les Cigognes is the perfect place to retreat to after a day spent haggling in the souks or sipping mint tea and taking breakfast on the terrace is breathtakingly lovely. Kid plus: Helping to make the yummy pastries… or maybe the best bit is actually eating them!

May 27, 2014

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccan Mint Tea

Have you ever wondered how Tea Collection became Tea Collection? The name Tea Collection originated from the idea that tea is shared in nearly every culture around the world. Tea (our company) is about sharing our discoveries and encouraging adventure. We thought this was a pretty great fit. In Morocco, mint tea is one of the most popular drinks and is served at least once a day. When guests visit a Moroccan home, it is considered good etiquette to offer them mint tea. At one time, the tradition was to ceremoniously prepare the tea in front of the guests. This tradition still takes place as a custom in certain regions and at some formal occasions, however, today it is more common to prepare the tea in the kitchen, then presenting it to the guests. We enjoyed our fair share of mint tea during our travels and we’ve tried many times to recreate the sweet drink for our friends here in San Francisco.

Below is a recipe that tasted very similar to tea we had abroad and we’d like to share it with you!


1 tablespoon loose-leaf green tea leaves
1 handful fresh spearmint leaves, washed
½ liter of boiling water (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar


1. Boil a little more than a liter of water.
2. Rinse a small tea pot with a ¼ cup of water.
3. Add the loose-leaf green tea leaves and another ¼ cup of boiling water to the pot.
4. Swirl the water and leaves in the pot to rinse the leaves, then pour out the water.
5. Add the mint leaves, sugar, and ½ liter of boiling water to the pot and leave to steep for at least 5 minutes.
6. Stir the tea and pour into small tea cups to serve.

This recipe can also be chilled and served over ice as a cool refreshment. We think an iced Moroccan mint tea stand would be a fun alternative to a lemonade stand this summer!


Guest post by Emma Randall; current student at Santa Clara University studying Finance and Retail Studies.