Category: Discovery and Exploration

Tea Travels: Visting Colorful Oaxaca

Oaxaca

Jordan, our Assistant Textile Designer, in Oaxaca

Travel has always been at the heart of Tea. It’s what drives the inspiration behind each and every design we create. As such, it’s only appropriate that we give our hardworking employees time off to go on their own worldly adventures. We offer them an annual international travel stipend to help offset costs. Upon their return, they write a blog post to share their trip with all of us (and all of you). Today, we’re highlighting our Assistant Textile Designer, Jordan, who recently went to Oaxaca, Mexico. She’s been to Mexico many times, but only recently went to the very colorful state of Oaxaca. Read on to learn more about her trip.

As you may have seen in our Instagram stories, I recently went to Oaxaca, Mexico. Although I have been to Mexico many times, this was my first time traveling to the southern state of Oaxaca. My husband and I chose to go there because of its colorful and vibrant art scene, as well as its world-famous cuisine (both of which did not disappoint).

 

Oaxacan art

A relic of an ancient pyramid now integrated into the side of a church

 

In Oaxaca, art is everywhere. Just by walking down a quiet street, you can run into an artist’s workshop or gallery. I would recommend not only visiting the city’s countless museums, but also going to artist collectives. They allow you to see, firsthand, the artist’s process and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. One of the best parts of my trip was visiting an artisan in their space.

During our trip, we went to the small village of Teotitlán de Valle. Only recently has this town been opened to tourists (previously, you could only get to the village via a mountainous path). Once we arrived, I met an artist named Josefina and her family at their home. There, they showed me their craft of organic dyeing and weaving.

Oaxaca artisans

The process of organic dyeing and weaving

 

Josefina demonstrated how to create dyes from the natural materials found in the family’s backyard, including roots, seeds, and the cochineal insect that grows on cactus paddles. When squished, the bug releases a bright magenta hue and shows up vibrantly in wool designs. Everyone in the family helps out, including Josefina’s children. They clean, comb, and spin the wool. Josefina’s husband then uses the dyed wool at the loom to weave rugs. He creates traditional patterns that date back hundreds of years and reflect the natural elements that surround him (seeds, water, land, etc.).

Oaxacan art

Left: Oaxacan Painted Pottery. Right: Oaxacan Embroidery at the Textile Museum

 

Finding and meeting a family-owned handicraft business like Josefina’s made visiting Teotitlán de Valle even more special. Weaving is only one example of a handicraft Oaxaca is known for. Traveling to different parts will lead you to villages specializing in pottery, embroidery, and many other crafts. With the help of a guide, getting around the surrounding parts of Oaxaca is easy and accessible.

Oaxacan tortillas

Freshly made blue corn tortillas

In addition to handicraft, Oaxaca is known for its unique dishes that wonderfully fuse its indigenous roots with a modern, elevated restaurant scene. From the Oaxacan string cheese to the more interesting chapulines (fried crickets), Oaxacans love to blend flavors and textures. Surprisingly, one of the best food experiences we had in Oaxaca was eating a quesadilla. It sounds simple, but the Oaxacans have really nailed the art of making the perfect quesadilla. We ate at a restaurant called Intanoni, which is known for its corn. All of it is organic and stone ground on the premises. From there, the chefs make delicious tortillas by hand, stuff them with strands of Oaxacan cheese, then cook the quesadillas on top of a comal (Mexican stove) until the tortilla edges are crispy and the cheese inside is perfectly melted. Wash it all down with an ice cold limónañada and you have, in my opinion, the perfect lunch.

I would go back to Oaxaca in a heartbeat. The only thing I would do differently is stay longer than five days. I would love to visit all of the handicraft villages surrounding Oaxaca to discover even more of the colorful art that makes visiting Mexico so special.

Feel inspired? Check out more stories like this on our Instagram @teacollection.

Tea Travels: Exploring the Coasts of Italy

Travel is always at the heart of Tea — it’s the true inspiration behind all of our clothing collections. We believe that by introducing ourselves to new people, places, and cultures, we become better, more open individuals. To encourage our employees to truly live these values and take time off to see the world, we offer them an annual international travel stipend to help offset costs. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write a post to share their adventures with all of us, and all of you. Today, we’re highlighting a trip to Italy taken by Letty, our Quality Control & Compliance Manager. This was her second time visiting the country, and she set off to explore the smaller towns of the Amalfi Coast. Read on to learn more about her trip.

Fiordo Di Furore, Italy

Cove in Fiordo Di Furore

I fell in love with Italy a couple of years ago when I visited Rome, Florence, and Sicily. Since then, I’ve been dying to revisit. Italy is so varied from region to region, so we were excited to explore some new places this time around. We first visited the Amalfi Coast, opting for the smaller towns of Praiano, Maiori, and Minori. We loved all the little coves, full of secret beaches. My favorite was Fiordo Di Furore, reminiscent of the secluded beach from the Studio Ghibli film “Porco Rosso.”

Amalfi Dolls in Italy

Amalfi Dolls

 

 

When we weren’t lounging on the sand, we took hikes between towns. Maiori and Minori were connected by a winding lemon tree hike. Along the walk, we found funny decorations, statues, and even dolls. From Amalfi, we took a very winding and dizzying bus ride to a train to take us to Naples.

I’ve always been skeptical about the hype surrounding Naples pizza. How good could it really be? Once we got off the train, we bee-lined to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. I was worried when I saw a line out the door and a sidewalk littered with tourists. In the end, the pizza was well worth the wait. Once we took a bite and tasted the perfectly sweet and acidic sauce, lightly charred crust, and creamy cheese, we committed to ONLY eating pizza. The hype was real.

Museo Madre, Naples, Italy

Museo Madre, Naples

Naples is a lively city, having all the history of Rome without any of the pretension. It mixed high art with street and political art. Each subway station boasted its own art installation, full of colors and movement. The Museo Madre, a cool contemporary art museum, was just dizzying. Once we entered, we were engulfed by a fun house full of graphic shapes and mirrors.

Once 4pm hit, everyone was off work. The winding streets filled with conversation, laughter, and aperol spritz. I love a good commotion, and Naples immediately sang to me. Everyone was friendly and super talkative. A young shopkeeper we spoke with insisted we eat at his best friend’s restaurant, promptly making us reservations. From Naples, we travelled to Procida, a small island off the coast. There, we met with the Naples chef again, who also directed us to the best food on the island.

Galleria Nazionale, Rome, Italy

Galleria Nazionale, Rome

We ended our trip in Rome meeting up with friends. The last time we visited Rome, we diligently hit up all the historical sites. This time, we decided to take our time with leisurely strolls, picnicking in parks, and chatting for hours. I can’t wait to return and see more of Italy.

Feel inspired? Check out our limited Italy collection available at teacollection.com.

Native Artists x Tea Collection: Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Textile Designs

While in Santa Fe, we had the opportunity to visit The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, home to an extensive collection of Native art and material artifacts. The Museum opened in 1931, with a mission to collect and preserve Southwest Native American material culture. In partnership with the museum, our latest winter styles feature products inspired by textiles in the collection.

What significance do textiles have as an art form among the Southwestern natives?

Weaving is integral component of life, identity and creative expression amongst the Southwestern Indian peoples — and has been so for thousands of years.

The Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi peoples of the Southwest are all known for and regarded for their weaving traditions. Though their weaving styles and designs differ, they all share in the belief that weaving was a gift given to them by Spider Woman. Through her communication these Southwestern Indian people learned how to spin and weave and, in so doing, gained the ability to create beauty and share both a personal and cultural expression.

To learn more about the Myth of Spider Woman visit:  https://youtu.be/c_Tj4lr8i_k

The first weavers were the Pueblo people of the Southwest and cotton and yucca were the initial fibers they used to make clothing, ceremonial dress and blankets. When the Spanish arrived in the early 1500’s they introduced the churro sheep and their long staple wool became the main weaving fiber.

In the late 1880’s trading posts opened up throughout the Southwest; and shortly thereafter the railroad arrived, delivering to the region new materials, new styles and new, and more frequent visitors. With so much fresh information and increase in demand, the focus and style of weaving changed. There was less need for woven basics and more demand from collectors and tourists for weavings to buy. Responding to the changing tastes and trends of the time, Southwest Native weavers produced more rugs than the traditional wearing blankets. A full 130 years later, the weaving tradition continues, with the native peoples of the Southwest making ceremonial dress, belts, and rugs both for personal use and for sale to collectors.

Stylistically, what are Southwestern native weavers known for?

There is no one style of weaving or pattern for which the Southwest is known, as every weaver approaches their craft differently. The one concept that does unify all weavings is the sense of balance, beauty and harmony with which all weavers approach their creative process. From gathering wool, to spinning, dying and weaving, gratitude and honor is accorded to the animals that provide the wool, the natural elements that nourish both the animals and the plants from which dyes are made.

What is life like within Southwestern Native communities today?

In New Mexico there are 19 Pueblos – or villages, located along or near the route of the Rio Grande River. The Pueblo people have lived in these towns or ones close by for over 1000 years. The ancient traditions of pottery, weaving, basketry, and jewelry making – are very much alive today and still practiced by the current generations.

The Navajo were originally a nomadic people who tended sheep. They moved as needed based on the season and the availability of good feed and water for the animals. That sheep were so integral to the Navajo way of life, it is understandable that they would become great weavers. While the Navajo are no longer nomadic and live in towns scattered across their 27,000 square mile reservation in New Mexico and Arizona, herding, wool processing and weaving is still practiced.

The Hopi people live in northeastern Arizona in small villages or settlements that have been there since time immemorial. Like the Pueblo people and the Navajo, the Hopi weaving traditions continue to thrive.

What types of tools and techniques do these artisans use when crafting their pieces?

Weavers the world round use the same tools – shears for harvesting wool from the sheep, carding combs to clean and separate the fibers, spindles to make the fiber into yarn, and looms for weaving the fibers. To learn more about the weaving process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vyw93hJt__g

Shop Museum of Indian Arts & Culture x Tea Collection here.

 

 

Share Your City: Chasing Joy in DUMBO

This summer, Tea families across the US are showing us around their cities and sharing the incredible places that make them special. 

Next up in our Share Your City series, we head to DUMBO, Brooklyn where Naima Petz and her three adorable daughters take us on a joyful jaunt through the urban playground outside their door.Naima Petz DUMBO Brooklyn

Share Your City: Strolling the Streets of Boston with Tatiana Ivanova

This summer, Tea families across the US are showing us around their cities and sharing the incredible places that make them special. 

Next up in our Share Your City series, we head to Boston where Tatiana Ivanova and her girls take us on a stroll through the cobblestone streets outside their door.

Tatiana Ivanova Boston Tour

Share Your City: Touring Around Tampa with the Joneses

This summer, Tea families across the US are showing us around their cities and sharing the incredible places that make them special. 

Next up in our Share Your City series, we say hello to sunny, sandy beaches and endless kid-friendly attractions. Come along as we go touring around Tampa with momtographer, Christina Jones, and her little crew.Touring Around Tampa Christina Jones

Share Your City: A Day in Canton, OH with Elizabeth Jacob

At Tea, we believe in the transformative power of travel and connection. Every time we experience a new place, we gain new perspective about the world, and ourselves. But cultural discoveries don’t just happen abroad… you can find them just down the road. We’ve asked Tea families across the US to show us around their hometowns and share some of the incredible places that set them apart.

Next on our Share Your City tour, we spend a day in Canton, Ohio with Elizabeth Jacob and her daughter Jessica. Follow along they give us the inside scoop on the best things to see and do in their charming city. 

Elizabeth Jacob Canton Ohio