Water may quench a thirst, but it is tea that assuages the soul. The ancient leaf is a source of warmth and calm, of comfort and tradition. But it is much more than a favourite daytime sip. Its earthy stain brings new possibilities as it breathes life into a collection of organic and recycled fashion by dosa, transforming each piece into a unique example of vintage chic, steeped in natural beauty.
Each day, during our first waking hours, we engage in the morning ritual, easing ourselves into the tasks and challenges ahead. Perhaps we will linger in bed, sipping a steaming brew from fine porcelain as we slowly regain consciousness.
The Victorians frequently soaked linens and costumes in the brew as the aged effect of the stain suggested an antique heirloom quality. However, for modern day followers of the ancient craft, it is not the material aspect of antiquity that we attempt to capture. Instead we seek to evoke feelings of nostalgia, perhaps to rediscover the familiarity of an old worn t-shirt once possessed by a lover or a souvenir from our youth. But the outcome is as ephemeral as the moments we try to revisit. Unlike its botanical counterparts, tea leaves do not impart a dye, but rather a stain that cannot be fixed by mordants, resulting in colours that fade over time – like the image on an old sepia photograph – further adding to the romantic allure.
Each blend of leaves possesses its own tint, from the grey dull hue of gunpowder and the cold green tinge of matcha green tea to the creamy shade of chamomile or the warm tangerine tint of orange pekoe. Fruit infusions and herbal tisanes impart livelier tones of pale gold yellows and subtle pinks. Then, as each length of fibre steeps in its brew, the transformation begins. Organic, natural fibres offer the best results, as the wholesome oatmeal-coloured base of untreated cotton provides a creamy, neutral canvas for such an earthy palette. By staining over existing tones with overdyeing techniques, we can create shades as unique as the way we take our tea. A strong formula transforms cool, dark indigo into rich chocolate, while dainty, delicate prints, carved from traditional wood blocks, dazzle against their muted base. The possibilities are endless and, like a good cup of tea, it is all a question of personal taste.
‘tea! thou soft, thou sober, sage and venerable liquid,
…thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening, wind-tippling cordial,
to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moment of my life,
let me fall prostrate’
18th century playwright
text: Ashlee Beard
creative director: Nelson Sepulveda
photo: Sacha Van Dorssen