For Tea & Absinthe co-owner Pacita Prasarn, a warm cup of tea and a geeky activity are an undeniably perfect match.
“I always feel like nerds and tea go together—for reading books, watching TV, I’ve always loved to do it with a good cup of tea,” Prasarn told Food & Wine. “Plus, I’m a Doctor Who fan so I think I have that anglophile thing going on.”
The rather overwhelming stream of customers that filed in, around and out of Tea & Absinthe’s exhibitor booth on the Jacob K. Javits Center show floor confirmed that Prasarn is onto something. At least for attendees of New York Comic Con, “geeky” tea seemed to be a natural fit for the pop-culturally ravenous weekend.
Originally started in January 2010 by Prasarn and Daniel Meyers, the online tea store spends more time on the road and at cons than anywhere else. Traveling to events like Atlanta’s DragonCon and Baltimore’s PotterVerse, they have drummed up business over eight years of operation, going from offering a handful of teas to incorporating everything from absinthe tastings and flasks to special kitchenware and their fluctuating selection of pop culture teas.
They first began their tea operation with Doctor Who-inspired blends, as “that was their fandom,” according to Prasarn. To this day personal interest remains the inspiration for creating their line of geeky teas. “I don’t know much about Overwatchor certain horror movies, so I’m not going to a tea for that,” Prasarn said. “But I love Gravity Falls and I’m a big Harry Potter fan.”
Tea & Absinthe currently offers 31 flavors (all of which are loose-leaf and only some of which are fandom-inspired), including teas based on Harry Potter, Mario Kart, Dr. Who, Alice in Wonderland, Lilo & Stitch, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The duo, whose inventory is so large they store it in a rented facility, are constantly swapping out available flavors. This past weekend, that meant the addition of four Harry Potter teas—each based on one of the four Hogwarts houses—and the discontinuation of one Buffy The Vampire Slayer blend.
While the titles may just seem like a fun hook, Tea & Absinthe’s blends do actually remind you of the properties they intend to embody. Prasarn revealed that they pull from the narrative and characters to conceive each tea’s taste, and it’s a process that can take some time. Paying close attention to the things characters say or otherwise show that they like helps Prasarn and Meyers whip up the ideal representative tea.
“When you smell the Ravenclaw tea, it just smells smart,” Prasarn said. “When you smell Hufflepuff—because their house was near the kitchens—it’s like cookies, gingerbread, and warm happiness.”
“I really want to capture the feelings of the characters, the film or the episodes,” Prasarn continued. “With our Doctor Who teas, for the Eleventh Doctor, he has a scene where he combines vanilla custard and fish sticks. So we thought we should have a vanilla custard tea. We say fish fingers are not included and that you can add those if you like.”
The teamaer has found that while the fandom blends are hot items, their most popular tea isn’t actually pop-culturally inspired. The most purchased is Starry Night, an almond coconut black tea that smells and tastes like almond joy. Their second most popular tea Ohana, however, is a black tea blend based on Lilo & Stitch that has a sweet tropical smell to it and features ingredients like mallow, rose and sunflower petals. There is also a limited-edition Steven Universe tea called The Crystal Gems, which features pieces of crystallized petals matching the colors of gems from the popular animated series.
The full article first appeared at Food & Wine on October 12, 2017.