I have painted on many surfaces over the years: clay, canvas, wood, buildings, streets, sidewalks, fabric, faces. None of this prepared me for painting on elephants. This is definitely something I never even dreamed of doing. I had mixed feelings going into it. I always awed at the beauty of the photographs of painted elephants in magazines and online, but was worried about what all that meant for the elephants. Weren’t they meant to be in the wild? Would these elephants be treated well?
I read all about Elefun before we went. It had good reviews and people had good things to say about how they treated the elephants. Our amazing trip planner, Gouthami, checked in with some of her local connections who also had good things to say about Elefun. Elefun is an elephant village dedicated to creating a safe and natural environment in order to conserve elephants. In Indian culture, elephants are revered, loved, respected and protected.
My first impression was that the elephants were MASSIVE. Being an animal nerd I knew that Indian elephants are one of the smaller varieties, these were anything but small. They introduced us to the elephants, had us pet their trunks. Showed us how to feed them bananas. They ate entire bunches of bananas at once, in what seemed like one giant bite.
Ginger (or adrak in Hindi) is grown on farms throughout India. On our trip, we came upon a ginger farm and stopped to take a look. The landscape was very vibrant and green – the leafy green stalks of the ginger are reed-like and can reach up to three feet tall. We saw the farmers harvesting ginger rhizomes (the underground root part of the plant) and piling them up. It was amazing how much was harvested!
As we end one year and make our way into another, we’re taking this chance to look back and explore the places our collections have taken us. Tea has made it to over many different countries, met hundreds of caring people, learned how to sing and dance and say hello in countless languages. Most importantly, we’ve gathered all the inspiration along our way to share with you. Here’s a look at some places we’ve gone over the past few years.
My love of collecting teapots started long before I founded Tea Collection. I believe it was China or Hong Kong where I first picked up my first international teapot. I also remember buying beautiful bowls in Japan that actually turned out to be teacups! My love for collecting these items started then. I have always loved the drink and cherished the moment and feeling of the warming experience. Teapots evoke just the right sense of elegance and wisdom that I admire about the whole pastime. And I love the exotic memories each one gives me when I look at it or use it.
“Indigo, or indigotin, is a dyestuff originally extracted from the varieties of the indigo and woad plants. Indigo was known throughout the ancient world for its ability to color fabrics a deep blue. Egyptian artifacts suggest that indigo was employed as early as 1600 b.c.”
To celebrate the launch of our Citizen Blue collection which is rooted in rich indigo hues, we’ve partnered with Tatcha, a skincare company that happens to have their very own Indigo collection, to bring you (three of you!) the chance to win a prize package worth $200! Learn more about Tatcha’s founder and CEO, Victoria Tsai, below…
“I created Tatcha as a way to share the treasures I discovered on my journeys, a philosophy shared by the Tea Collection founders. My daughter, Alea, recently embarked on her first travels and is on her way to becoming a little citizen of the world. Wherever she roams, she loves wearing her kimono-inspired Tea Collection outfits. I’m honored to share our story – and the story of Tatcha – with you today.”
We understand you created Tatcha as “a way to share the treasures and knowledge discovered on [your] journeys East.” What was one of the earliest lessons learned that pushed you to start this business in 2009?
To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world)!
And we’re off to the races! We have been planning our backpacking trip to Europe ever since our bosses gave us the go-ahead. No one would ever believe that we would lug all our possessions in backpacks, but we sure did!
First stop… Chicago for a 9 hour layover. We took the L into the city and explored Millennium Park in our matching uniforms (totally unplanned by the way). After making our way through 100% humidity, we got back to O’hare with plenty of time to spare before our flight to Madrid. We arrived in Madrid at 6AM local time, but our room wasn’t ready until 1PM. We grabbed a map (and free wifi) and proceeded down Madrid’s most famous thoroughfare, El Gran Via. We stumbled upon a deliciously classic Spanish breakfast (torta, toast, and of course jamón). Our first taste of jamón was salty and delicious and we couldn’t get enough of it.
When out and about in Madrid, we always ended up at Puerta del Sol. Some way, somehow we always ended up in this massive Spanish square that’s hustling and bustling with people at all hours of the day and night. After getting lost trying to look for the world famous San Gines churros, we finally found them down a deserted alley. It was definitely worth the puddle splashing! This churro isn’t like the typical American amusement park churro with cinnamon sugar coating, but plain fried dough that’s begging for the thick melted chocolate lava.
At Tea, we believe in a healthy sense of adventure – the kind that gets you up and out and exploring. So when we visited Germany, of course we had to hit the slopes! We strapped on skis in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a Bavarian town just north of Zugapitze, Germany’s highest mountain.
We discovered so much that inspired our winter collection: the sporty style of German skiers and snowboarders, vintage ski posters and the towering snow-covered Alps themselves! Here are a few of our favorite photos from our day on the slopes. Have you ever skied the German Alps?