Before advocating the health benefits of tea, Lipsius was the vice president of her family’s business, Orange Glo International, for five years until it was sold in 2006. What spurred the transition from cleaning products to Camellia sinensis was a chance meeting between Lipsius’ film-director husband, Adam, and Teatulia co-founder Anis Ahmed at a New York City coffeeshop. After learning about Ahmed’s mission to bring environmental sustainability and economic security to the Tetulia district in Bangladesh where the tea is grown, Lipsius joined the cause. Little did she know that as the company grew, so would her knowledge and appreciation for the aromatic leaves.
Bangladesh Beauty Lipsius and her husband bought this painting during their first trip to Bangladesh in 2002. “We were struck by the fact that Bangladesh is filled with color everywhere,” she says. “This painting is representative of the country’s overall aesthetic.”
Quick Tip Green and white teas are more delicate than black. A good rule of thumb is “the darker the tea, the hotter the water,” Lipsius says. Tea should be steeped between two and four minutes—any longer than that and the tea will become bitter.
The Collector Lipsius’ downtown loft is dotted with keepsakes from her and Adam’s numerous travels. “He’s a hoarder,” she says with a smile. One cherished—and unusual—memento is an antique radio.
Toast to Health Tea consumption in the United States is low compared to Europe, Africa, and Asia. That’s a shame, says Lipsius, because unlike coffee, tea is thirst-quenching and has restorative properties.
Pretty Packaging Lipsius loves the packaging of tea almost as much as she loves the beverage itself. A quick peek in her kitchen cabinets reveals stacks of several brightly colored tins, canisters, and boxes.
New York Minute Lipsius personalizes her spacious, industrial kitchen with family photos of her husband and two small children. A favorite is a series of black-and-white shots of her and her husband, Adam, in the New York subway where they first met. That was in 1998 during Rosh Hashanah, and Adam’s first words to her were “Aunt’s or uncle’s?” in reference to whose house she was going to for the Jewish holiday.
You Go, Girl In exchange for maintaining the organic tea garden in Bangladesh, members of the Teatulia Cooperative receive cows that are used instead of microfinance loans. The mostly female beneficiaries then sell the cows’ milk and dung to make ends meet.
Ceremony Instead of fine china, Lipsius prefers to savor her tea in a Bodum glass cup so she can watch it steep. “It’s a beautiful thing,” she says. Teatulia teas, in particular, are remarkable to watch because the corn-silk pyramid tea bags allow space for the leaves to expand.
- Earl Grey Cookies (Makes 40 cookies)
- 6 bags Teatulia Earl of Bengal Tea
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
- Pulse together all dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized, and then add the vanilla, water, and butter. Pulse together until the dough is formed. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Chill both wrapped logs for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap dough (one at a time to keep cold and hard) and slice into disks about 1/3-inch thick. Place cookies on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake until edges are brown (10–12 minutes). Allow to cool for a moment and then transfer to wire racks.