By Joey Roth

sorapotAs a designer, tea has always fascinated me. Its simplicity belies the universe of experience it contains. I designed the Sorapot to articulate the beauty of leaves unfurling as they steep. There are other parts of the tea making process that can be just as rich with the right designs. That was my motivation for creating a collection of tea tools to complement the Sorapot.

Jana, my wife and creative partner, was the driving force behind the collection. I can focus in on a single object and lose myself in its details, which is handy for industrial design. Jana, meanwhile, has the ability to see the relationships between objects. She understands how collections create new meanings beyond the scope of any single object. With this in mind, she contacted design companies and craftspeople whose work we admire. We worked with them to create a focused set of tea tools. The final collection includes just what one would need to make tea with the Sorapot and nothing more.

We worked with ceramicist Ben Fiess to create a set of three tea bowls. We sized the bowls to be a third of the Sorapot’s volume, and shaped their walls to work with its unique pour. The glazes we developed reference the Sorapot’s stainless steel finish without matching it. Ben makes these bowls by hand in Minnesota.

The raw silk tea towel came about in a similar way. We worked with Brooklyn based textile artist Shabd Simon-Alexander to design a custom dye pattern. The gray and indigo texture references the Sorapot’s finish and allows spots of tea to blend in.

The Karmi Tea Canisters by Syosen are not our design, simply because we could see no way to improve them. The all cherry birch canisters are air tight because the lid-to-body fit is so precise. The lathed ribbing pattern accentuates the grain while subtely improving ergonomics. Along with the tea tray the canisters provide a warm balance to the Sorapot.

Finally, we collaborated with Portland tea company T Project to make a blend just for the Sorapot. It combines medium fermented green tea with local ingredients native to the Pacific Northwest. The ingredients are cedar tips, oat tops, chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, cornflower and rose petals. We developed the blend to have a grassy, fresh flavor profile and to be visually interesting as well.

This was a guest-contributed post. If you would like to submit your own article for posting on T Ching, send an email with your article to [email protected]