Steve Schwartz is CEO and Founder of Art of Tea. Steve didn’t start AOT 10 years ago, but was inadvertently creating the foundation for it. In New Mexico, he studied Ayurveda, the science of life and art of healing, and fell in love working with teas and botanicals. In his travels overseas he would come back bringing tea for friends and family, and word quickly got out that he was sourcing rare and unique teas and botanicals such as Silver Needle, Ancient Forest and Blooming Bliss. With his background in preventative medicine he soon realized the value that tea could have in teaching health over time, as well as a great means for daily enjoyment. This quickly spawned into the field of hospitality, with boutique restaurants, cafes and spas seeking fine teas. Steve works with dozens of tea growers around the world, working with them to create special blends, find the perfect teas, and bring fair-trade and organic teas to the U.S.
Q: As a kid, you spent time creating food dishes. Tell me about a dish you remember making, and tell me a little about how has that shaped your career as a tea purveyor and tea craftsman?
A: Stuffing – I remember getting my hands in the stuffing and loving mixing everything together in one big bowl. To this day I still love mixing and blending everything by hand.
Q: As a kid, you were into soccer, and later on hiking, biking and yoga. At what point did you gravitate towards the outdoors and holistic exercise? And why?
A: About 12 years ago, while taking care of my Mom while she was struggling with cancer I found Yoga as my salvation. We are constantly defining gravity and in yoga it is not like you are moving or climbing or racing against something. There are no goals, like tea, it is a constant process of focus and agility that brings you in the moment with each breath you take.
Q: Traveling always has a big impact on kids, and adults, and their view of the world. How have your travels impacted your world of tea.
A: Tea being the second most consumable beverage right behind water is used as a binder within a family gathering or community. It is enjoyed at the end of a meal or as an afternoon refresher and each culture has their own signature tea and each family has their own way of brewing. Through my travels I have been inspired to share these cultures and unique concoctions in their simplicity to others.
Q: You’ve spent a lot of time at different events talking to people about your business, your passion, and inspiring them about the world of tea. Tell me about an experience you’ve had, or been part of, that you were a big part of, that wasn’t about you or tea.
A: I volunteered for one year in a peace corp type program in the Middle East. Without knowing the language I taught horticulture and yoga to high school and middle school children. It is amazing how much I learned from their willingness to learn.
Q: Why do you drink tea in 10 words or less?
A: It’s a new experience within every cup.
Q: List one thing that you do everyday to speaks of who you are?
A: Everyday I look up at the sky to gain perspective and appreciate life. It is easy to lose that sense of nature in our society but the sky is a precious gift that can remind us of the vastness of our universe and our tiny but significant role in it.