Taylor Cowan • May 19, 2023
'Lilacs: Memory and Desire', the Early Spring 2023 collection.
On the Theme
“[…] breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.” - T.S. Eliot
Our first ever seasonal theme centralizes our core brand color, lilac, and its namesake: the early blooming, flowering shrub. Have you ever noticed how much more a flower shines in the diffused and cloudy light of a rainy day? In Chicago, we’ve had an absolutely brutally cold, wet, and ceaselessly gloomy spring. This is partially due to climate change, and it begins to show you how the fate of nature and the fate of our emotions are intertwined. What does spring’s rebirth mean in a world that promises less and less of it?
Lilac has become the banner color of our brand.
The real life lilac accession that is most our color symbolizes “spirituality,” fittingly enough. The color was a deliberate choice undertaken by our branding agency, Citron, who may or may not have known just how fitting it would be. In the words of founder JJ Wright,
“We found most tea brands in the US rely on a fairly minimalist design aesthetic. While often beautiful, this visual language can feel a bit serious and inaccessible. We saw it as an opportunity to break from the norm “One way to do so was by embracing an unexpected hue. A vibrant lilac proved to be playful and welcoming, a perfect lead color to help spread tea to the masses.”
It can be astounding to come out of a particularly harsh winter (or never-ending March in our case) to find flowers, to shift your perspective and let in the desire spring carries. There is an awakening felt that can be overwhelming and full of the feeling of year’s past, both sweet and melancholic. It calls to mind a great haiku (of a different flower) by the Japanese master Basho, “Cherry blossoms / Lights / Of years past.” We are confronted with the hopes, loves and fears of a new year of life on earth.
In the Chinese diaspora, The Tomb Sweeping Festival Qingming is a sort of symbolic spring indicator. In tea culture, it acts as a traditional quality marker: teas harvested before the date (Qingmian) are said to be of superior quality and command higher price than those harvested after. Since the Tang Dynasty, the period around Qingming is renowned as one of the fairest for travel—perfect day for a picnic and honoring the memory of one’s fore-bearers.
An ancient Greek legend tells of Pan, a satyr and the forest demigod of Arcadia. He fell in love with an indescribably beautiful nymph named Syringa, but she rebuked his affections and fled—pleading with Artemis to help, the Goddess turned Syringa into a lilac bush. In his grief, Pan crafted an instrument from the hollow reeds of the bush and the song these pipes were imbued permanently in the memory of the one who heard them. To this day, the scientific name for a Lilac bush references the plight of Syringa.
On a last botanical note, Lilac bushes, because of their heartiness, often outlive the people who plant them. They share this quality with tea trees. Like trees, planting a lilac bush contains not only the thought of your own, present happiness—but the early spring blossomings of years to come. ❃