While the origin of controlled micro‑environments for cigars is open to some debate, there will never be any question as to who invented the tea humidor: that would be the Swedish native Åsa Eriksson‑Ahuja and her London‑based interiors company Lotusier, which began handcrafting exquisite cases that protect the delicate cured leaves contained within from light, odour, heat, air and moisture (tea’s five major nemeses) from sycamore wood early last year (most cigar humidors are made from Spanish cedar, but that would be too robust for tea).
Eriksson‑Ahuja conceived the idea of a tea humidor in 2011, having noticed her husband’s frustrations when his collectable teas from around the world deteriorated in flavour. Enlisting the help of world‑renowned jewellery box and crystal artisans from France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, she undertook years of R&D, culminating in what you see before you: an example of the Saicho Collection, which is dedicated to early Japanese travellers to China. Available on The Rake, the Night Kyoto is made from sycamore (only timber obtained from forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council: Eriksson‑Ahuja is hot on sustainability), measures 30cm x 25cm x 14.5cm, and comes in black with a grey marquetry design that evokes the ritual of a Far‑East tea ceremony.
Holding six containers honed from the finest hand‑blown crystal, it has a special polished stainless steel base, where a two‑way humidification system resides (most tea varieties are optimally preserved within a 55 to 70 per cent relative humidity range). Crucially, the design prevents different types of tea contained within from cross‑pollinating their flavours.
Global consumption of tea is now second only to water, and its status as a luxury product is rocketing, making Lotusier’s invention as timely as it is ingenious. Indeed, a product like this offers reassurance in the very nature of contemporary luxury: it asserts that there are always fresh ways to innovate when it comes to enjoying life’s finest offerings (in this case taking things beyond thoughtfully sourced leaves and the best crockery money can buy). It promises to shift how the owner perceives tea as much as how they taste it, and perhaps, consequentially, will encourage them to consign their sports team mugs to the bin.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once said, “Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea”, would approve. Madame Yu Hui Tseng, a master of the Chinese Gongfu tea ceremony, has given her approval, and for us that’s as valid a nod of recognition as an endorsement of a cigar humidor from Zino Davidoff.