Another day, another I’ll-have-what-she’s-having elixir. And yet, in the midst of activated-charcoal tonics, slow-simmered bone broths, and nut milks spiked with turmeric, the most compelling health brew of the moment isn’t exactly new. Tea, naturally rich in antioxidants and low in sugar, is experiencing a major fashion and wellness renaissance—and if a quick look around is any indication, it may be poised to become the next green juice.
In recent seasons, models have declared allegiance to energy-boosting herbal blends backstage, with Kendall Jenner professing her love for Kusmi Tea’s BB Detox, a mix of green tea, maté, and guarana, among other ingredients. Meanwhile, matcha—the powdered bright-green tea that appeals to purists and the whole of Instagram—has given rise to cafés like Chalait, a jewel box in Manhattan’s West Village; you can also find it on the menu at the nearby Equinox (virtuous) and in a new custard pie at Brooklyn’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds (deliciously less so). And among those shaping how we think about beauty today—from Reiki-practicing facialists to herb-focused shopkeepers committed to impeccable sourcing—it’s increasingly top of mind.
“Beauty tea is the next wave,” says Jessica Richards, owner of Brooklyn boutique Shen, known for its curated mix of natural-focused skin care and in-house facials. For a glowing complexion, she says, “It goes back to what you eat”—and drink. Richards regularly brews Egyptian licorice tea, citing its anti-inflammatory properties, and starting this week, she’s stocking the new Sleepy Cow tea from the U.K. brand (and Soho House favorite) Cowshed. The elegantly packaged lemon-chamomile blend, developed with the London-based Joe’s Tea Co., will be on offer post-treatment at Shen this fall for an extra dose of calm.
In the meantime, why not try facialist Negin Niknejad’s Love Potion? Inspired by her cosmically connected client, jewelry designer Pamela Love, the tea—made with heirloom roses, violet, nettle, cardamom, and other poetically charged ingredients—is one of four variations available as part of her JustBe skin-care line. Niknejad, in the midst of a three-year apprenticeship with an herbalist, also creates custom blends to support immune health and aid sleep. According to Niknejad, technique is everything: “I always recommend to steep your teas overnight,” she says of combining boiling water and herbs in a large Mason jar before refrigerating it the next morning. “Once you make an infusion”—as opposed to a quick-brewed cup—“that’s when it’s actually medicinal.”
Ritual is essential to this new wave of tea-drinkers, from Niknejad, who recently hosted a full-moon tea gathering at her New York City studio, to Baelyn Elspeth, a Los Angeles native who leads Taoist-inspired tea ceremonies in dreamy locales (Venice Beach, cedar forests), where flower crowns and drums occasionally make an appearance. At New York’s CAP Beauty, a wellness boutique in the West Village, the sensorial aspects of tea extend to its facials, which often incorporate chamomile and green tea infusions. Later this fall, the company will launch a private-label organic matcha, which entails its own meditative ritual. Expect in-store tastings, along with handsome teacups by local ceramist Romy Northover.
It follows that cleanse diehards have moved on to “teatoxing,” which makes some occasionally questionable weight-loss claims. “I don’t know about teatoxes,” says Frank Lipman, M.D., the New York integrative medicine expert who is no stranger to cleanses (his two-week version is a recurring topic of conversation in the Vogue offices), but he stands behind tea’s numerous benefits. “You get slightly different antioxidants and catechins and polyphenols” in different types, says Lipman, who drinks his way through the spectrum: black and green tea by day; rooibos by night. “In South Africa, we all grew up with rooibos tea,” says the Johannesburg-born doctor. “[It] was, in a way, like a catch-all remedy.” And it’s once again having a major moment, popping up in Aloha’s new Beauty Tea (along with sea buckthorn berry and hibiscus flower), in Sakara’s Detox Tea (with rose petals and stomach-soothing linden flowers), and in the free-radical fighting Cocoa Rooibos blend from L.A. boutique Chay, developed with the medicinal tea atelier Wilwand.
Of course, there may be some logic to tea’s moderating effects on mood and late-afternoon cravings. “You start drinking a tea a day, and maybe you don’t need that second cup of coffee,” says CAP Beauty co-founder Cindy DiPrima. It’s certainly well worth clearing some space on your desk for The Office Blend, from the artisanal herb company Daphnis and Chloe, featuring irresistibly chic packaging by Nathalie Du Pasquier, the Milan-based artist and Memphis Group cofounder. Made with rosehip, Greek mountain tea, thyme flowers, and peppermint, it’s designed to enhance alertness—and weaning off cold brew has never tasted (or looked) so good.
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