The world’s most popular drink has new champions in the U.S.
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Bloom Glass Teapot
Credit: Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Growing up in a Turkish household, having a cup of tea was a natural punctuation to my day, whether concluding a hastily enjoyed breakfast before school or a never-ending family dinner. As first-generation Americans whose families hail from the tea-loving countries of India, Japan, China, Vietnam, and beyond turn their most treasured cultural rituals into full-fledged businesses, I can hardly contain my excitement each night when I go to brew a pot. Here are a few of my favorite brands that are breathing new life into one of the world's oldest drinks. 

Alaya Tea

Alaya Tea
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Esha Chhabra and Smita Satiani started their company, Alaya, in September 2019. "Back in 2016, I had the opportunity to visit tea estates in Darjeeling," says Chhabra, whose family is originally from Kolkata. "These growers are going through a lot with the shifting monsoon and changing rain patterns." The cofounders source Alaya's offerings from women in Darjeeling, who hand pluck and roll the leaves. alayatea.co

Us Two Tea

Us Two Tea
Credit: Courtesy of Us Two Tea

From stress-relieving jasmine to a beautifully woodsy yet creamy baozhong (Taiwan's most popular tea varietal), Us Two Tea founder Maggie Xue sources each of her offerings directly from farms across Taiwan. The biodegradable corn fiber sachets are full of immune system- and mood-boosting leaves. Steep the black tea and watch the breathtaking ruby-red hue erupt seemingly out of nowhere—you'll thank me later. ustwotea.com

Tekuno

Tekuno Tea
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Catherine Jue is the proprietor of the San Francisco tea shop Tekuno, which specializes in high-end Japanese teas and "doesn't treat customers like babies," but instead trusts their palates will welcome a delicate sencha with notes of roasted tomato, warm milk, and pea shoots. In a new showroom near Golden Gate Park, Jue offers monthly tastings and also carries ceramics from both local and Japanese artists. teawithtekuno.com

The Qi

The Qi Tea
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

With The Qi, Lisa Li, who emigrated from Beijing at age 14, shares restorative teas made using edible flowers like blue lotus, chrysanthemum, and sakura blossoms, all of which are directly sourced from sustainable farmers in China. "We're the counterpoint to coffee culture, with its hustle and convenience," she says. "This is very much about taking a few minutes in your day to enjoy something beautiful and joyful." the-qi.com

The Tea Lover's Tool Kit

Bloom Glass Teapot

Bloom Glass Teapot
Credit: Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Lisa Li collaborated with homeware designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen to create this handmade teapot with delicate ball feet and a funky squiggle handle. Drop in a flower and watch it brew and bloom. $75 at the-qi.com

Small Glass Cups

Small glass cups
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

With hand-painted gold rims, these miniature heat-resistant tasting cups are equal parts luxurious and practical. $30 for 2 at the-qi.com

Kotodo Hand-Laquered Tea Canister

Kotodo Hand-Laquered Tea Cannister
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Delicate tea leaves need shielding from light, humidity, and moisture. These canisters look sleek while preserving precious cargo and can also be used for coffee beans or spices. $22 at teawithtekuno.com

Asahiyaki Hourglass Timer

Asahiyaki Hourglass
Credit: Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Time is of the essence when brewing a proper pot. This hourglass timer elapses 90 seconds, perfect for sencha, or you can turn it over to make a pot gyokuro. $48 at teawithtekuno.com